Our travel writer Willie Shand is back with another beautiful Scottish walk.
I stopped off for a walk in Strathardle this morning at the village of Kirkmichael. The last time I stopped here was in late August on Games Day, when the place was a bit busier than today in mid-February.
There’s been a hard overnight frost. The roads are icy and the hills are well capped with snow.
From the wee car park of Bannerfield – so called as it was here that the Earl of Mar raised the Standard during the 1715 Jacobite Rising – my walk was to start along part of the Cateran Trail.
Then, climbing through open woodland past several log cabins, it took me out into the open hills by Pitcarmick with its traces of ancient round houses. It’s strange to think these empty hillsides were once well populated.
Being a good clear day, I made a short detour up to the cairn on the summit of Creag Shoilleir to enjoy the grand all-round view before coming down to rejoin the Cateran Trail near the farm of Dalvey.
The snow was crunchy hard underfoot with amazing ice patterns formed in any puddles. West, beyond the Strath, is the prominent hill of Mount Blair, while further north rises the higher, much snowier tops of the Glenshee hills.
Temperatures may have struggled to climb much above freezing all day, but with the sun shining it was just a perfect day to be out in the hills.