Sometimes we love to treat ourselves to a beautiful hotel, as a reward for a hike into the wilds. Dalmunzie Castle Hotel looked so lovely with its mountain backdrop as we drove into the car park, all turrets and picture windows against a craggy mountain backdrop.We arrived early one Friday afternoon and the idea was to get checked in, drop off our small overnight case then set off on one of the easiest Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) imaginable – Glas Tulaichean, which translates from the Gaelic as The Grey-Green Hillocks.

Dalmunzie Castle Hotel

The forecast was not bad so we were hopeful of getting some decent views, though as ever, the MWIS had got it wrong, the clods.But  – it was still worth it.

There is a large track all the way up to the summit of this benign, rounded hill, surrounded by grouse moorland and deep corries. It’s the haunt of Ptarmigan and the Golden Eagle, Hares and Golden Plover. Beautiful country and quite empty.

It’s only just over 4 miles and 658m metres of ascent to gain the summit, with the option to continue onwards to bag another Munro – Carn an Righ, very remote.This would make the hike twice the distance, nearly 17 miles and a climb of 3,500 feet – a tougher prospect for a couple of older codgers like ourselves. But we decided to see what the weather would bring and also how we felt, given we’d had a long drive to get here and it was already 1.45pm. Early May meant no worries about daylight, not getting dark till well after 10pm;  it was more to do with how tired the old pins felt!

Very easy walking along Glen Lochsie, with tiny new lambs bleating and jumping about , some playing king of the castle, very cute.

Hi, you….(or ewe)

Then our track branched off across a small river, easily forded and began to head more steeply uphill onto the high moorland.

I loved that walk – the main ascent was over in no time and we were up on the high ground though a bitingly cold wind greeted us and snow flurries were already beginning. The weather was taking a turn for the worse! On we headed with another final, gradual climb (but always tough into a Baltic wind) and the distant Cairngorms emerged, cloaked in ominous looking cloud.

The final section

But the good thing about a wind is, it tends to blow cloud over, allowing clearer views at times and it was all certainly atmospheric.

Looking west

I managed some shots of the Cairngorms, loving how menacing and Arctic it all looked over there, then I joined Chris in hunkering down behind the cairn to get some shelter. It was teeth-chatteringly cold.Good old Scotland in early summer:)

The Cairngorms beyond Braemar

Looking across to Carn an Righ, with snow showers occasionally hiding the view, I was tempted to carry on but it was a fair old hike away.

‘It’s not going anywhere, it’ll be here a long time, ‘ Chris observed, munching into a cheese sandwich. Very true, but I’m now wont to say  – ‘yes, but we don’t have a long time ahead of us these days!’ (both being in our early 60s now.) I get very impatient sometimes about the need to do more distance, tick off another hill but Chris is very relaxed about these things (and yes, we did do that lovely mountain, the Rocky Hill of the King, a few weeks later, in great weather and part of a fantastic wild camping trip into remote country.) The lochan we camped beside is just visible in the photo below.

The remote lochan we camped beside a few weeks later
The Glenshee hills at the ski centre

Such a joy to have made a summit, I’m always surprised at how good it feels.That and being surrounded by wonderfully wild country, not a soul in sight.There really is something so special about the mountains, they draw me back always.Even battling the elements has a certain pleasure about it, as long as you’re well dressed up for it.

Certainly, our faces were glowing from the battering at 3,500 feet (1051m) but by the time we reached the 600 m (2,000 feet contour) it was like a different, softer world.The sun was lighting up Glen Lochsie too and as we neared the hotel, larks were trilling their hearts out high above us and blue tits and thrushes were singing melodiously in the trees.Bliss.The warm gear got peeled off fast as we once more, felt the sun’s warmth.

On the descent, Carn a Gheoidh visible

Nothing for it now but to pop open a bottle of champers from Lidl (and very good it is too at £10 a bottle) sit in the lovely lounge with its big picture windows and drink to still having it in us to clamber up Munros. Only another 150 or so to plan now, if I’m ever to reach Munro Compleatist status 🙂 Which of course, given I avoid all the dodgy edgy, ledgy ones, will not be happening!

On route, a view up neighbouring Glen Taitneach






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