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Longstanding Aberdeen MRT volunteer and member of the SMR Executive, Mario di Maio, shares his favourite walk.
My favourite walk is a hill called Carn Bhac which lies on the Western side of Glen Eye and about eight miles South West of Braemar on the southern edge of the Cairngorms. This is a walk I first did over fifty years ago and have revisited countless times since. Carn Bhac at 948 metres is of course a Munro and the most prominent hill in this small group of hills located between Glen Eye and Glen Dee. The approach to Carn Bhac is normally done by starting at the car park at Inverey and then following the Landrover track south along Glen Eye in the direction Altanour Lodge before striking up a long shoulder which takes you across a couple of minor tops before the final climb to the summit. This is probably the most direct route but Carn Bhac is often done as part of a circuit and as such can be tackled from a variety of approaches.
My love of this hill and the walk to its summit is almost entirely based on the views that you get during the walk in and of course from the summit. As the highest hill in this group Carn Bhac offers the most impressive panorama, and on a fine clear day the view to the North into the heart of the Cairngorms is breath-taking. I have generally done this hill while out on my own and I love the solitude and stillness because it is a bit of a hidden gem and generally I do the circuit without encountering another soul. Sitting at the summit cairn having a bite to eat is a joy with the high tops of the Cairngorms laid out before you. I always come back from this walk feeling calm, content and despite the effort required to get there – rested.
I suppose I do most of my walking in and around the Cairngorms – they are after all on my doorstep and offer an amazing variety of walks. On longer walks into the hills I always carry a flask of coffee and I am particularly partial to a cheese sandwich, and of course a slice of cake never fails to hit the spot – you have to replace the calories burned somehow!
The wildlife in this part of the Cairngorms is very varied and this walk offers the opportunity to spot mountain hares, grouse, ptarmigan in winter, red deer and perhaps best of all golden eagles. I have one very particular memory from a few years ago of sitting at the summit of Carn Bhac on a beautifully clear summer’s day watching a pair of golden eagles spiralling up on a thermal and then swooping back down and doing it all over again. I have no doubt that they were simply having fun.