Sunday was another late start so I thought I’d walk a local Marilyn hill that has eluded me so far – Kerloch, which is south of Banchory. I had tried to walk up this before in January. It took forever due to the track being covered in ice, forcing me to walk on the snowy heathery banks. Once the track went through the trees I had nowhere to walk because the trees took over the banks either side and the ice was too slippery to walk on. I hadn’t taken crampons, not thinking I would need them for a wee bump in Deeside! I tentatively tried to walk on it but landed on my backside skidding down the hill so I had to just give up and return. I’d also started walking it one previous summer’s evening but it was further than I realised and I wanted home for my tea!
I had planned to walk the Corbett, Carn na Drochaide, along with the Graham, Creag Bhalg, both near Braemar on Saturday. The forecast was a bit iffy though and I was woken in the early hours by rain lashing against my window pane. I fumbled for my phone (I got a new phone, yay – see last weekend’s entries) and checked the forecast for Braemar, which was snow all day. Ugh – I snuggled back under the duvet for another few hours…
When I woke it was quite late and probably not enough time to go to Braemar and walk these hills. So I settled for the Coyles of Muick – a Marilyn near Ballater I’d had my sights on for a while. In fact, I’d planned to do this walk last Friday but the day was so dreich I ended up leaving it and doing a very mucky run round Hill of Fare instead.
Earlier this year in the summit shelter cairn of Pressendye, near Tarland, I met a woman who told me about the hill at the back, towards The Buck, with a larch wood at the top. ‘I swear to God fairies live in that wood’ she said. This pressed a button – my favourite book when I was growing up was ‘The Magical Faraway Tree’ and ever since I heard this woman say those words I have been weirdly excited about going up this otherwise indistinct heathery dome – Coiliochbhar Hill. A fairy wood? It’s the stuff of girlhood dreams.
The run up to Christmas has as usual been busy, so with no rain forecast on the Winter Solstice, it was time to get out and feed my hill obsession, albeit with some short hills for the shortest day. Craiglich (476m) and Coiliochbhar Hill (533m) are two Marilyns close each other and close to where I live, so Ally and I set off in the Bongo for a wee leg stretcher to walk them both.
My birthday has rolled round once again. Ally asked what I’d like to do so I suggested a weekend involving backpacking, bothies and hills – a few of my favourite things. He planned it all and it was going to remain a surprise as to what / where exactly, but my inner planner got the better of me and I asked him to tell me a few days beforehand. It was in Highland Perthshire, north of Dunkeld – a two day backpack and an overnight stay in a bothy with hill options on the way. Not knowing what the weather would be like, Ally had erred on the side of caution and stuck to relatively lower ground. Looking up the planned route on the map I noticed that although we weren’t in the high hills, there were two Marilyns (Deuchary Hill and Creag nam Mial) en route for each day. Always a sucker for hills on a list, I suggested we included these as well.