Now having arrived back in the Eastern Highlands, the weather had changed, blue sky peeped through the clouds as we ate yet another traditional Scottish breakfast. We were staying the Darrochlee B&B in the town of Ballater. Ballater is a handsome village, the hiking looked to be excellent, the weather was supposed to be nice. So we ended up staying several days. We found a great hiking shop, where we bought a detailed trail guide of the area.
Since we had had a punishing hike the day before we decided on a walk around Loch Muick. The lake is about 8 miles south and reachable by a single lane road. The area can best be described as stark but still very beautiful. The trail follows the entire perimeter, with many trails branching off leading up into the surrounding mountains.
However, we did walk through a significant grove of beautiful old trees on the north side of the loch and within the trees found a very tidy and sturdy stone house. There was a man walking two white horses we’d seen earlier but he was no longer in sight. There was no one around so we did what we always do, which is look in the windows with the hope of seeing what’s inside. Most of the drapes were drawn but not all.
Also this entire area was part of the Red Deer Reserve. James spied several mature deer and fawns. With the help of his 400mm lens got some nice shots.
When we arrived back at the B&B we cleaned up and went for a stroll around the village. We stopped for a drink at the Auld Kirk Hotel where we had a nice chat with the proprietor. He let us know that the house we were skulking around is Queen Elizabeth’s Fishing Lodge. And the reason we saw the horse being walked, is they also belong to the Queen, and except for the Queen they are ridden only by one special trainer. The proprietor also cautioned us to stop creeping around or we might find ourselves in The Tower of London.
We ate dinner at the The Hayloft in Ballater. James and I shared Deviled Whitebait and we both had Spaghetti Bolognaise. Jim had Smoked Rainbow Trout and Venison Casserole. Our expectation on the food front weren’t high but so far we’ve had some very fine tasty meals. And the service has always been exemplary.
We were early to bed that night, we had an exciting climb planned for the following day!