It’s the heat that gets to me. My daughters, aided and abetted by their mother, insist on an almost tropical level of heat in the house at Christmas and, after being indoors for Christmas Day, I need to get out.
So, on the 26th, whatever the weather, I make a point of going out for a walk somewhere. Today, we are in the calm between storms and the sky was cloudless at 8am when I got out of bed. I didn’t want a long drive or a long day so headed for Clachnaben, a wee hill on the border of Aberdeenshire and Angus. Sadly, Clachnaben’s name does not really translate as ‘the hill of the lopsided nipple’ but it would be more descriptive if it did. The rocky tor on the summit makes it look rather like a botched bit of plastic surgery. Its distinctive shape is visible from all over Deeside.
I arrived at the car park about 10 to find that I had forgotten my gloves. Luckily, I always keep a pair of old Dachstein mitts in the car in case I am ever stuck in snow so these were put back into service. Older readers will remember Dachsteins as standard Scottish winter hillwear in the 1970s.
The walk in was like a late autumn day – warm, rich colours against a blue sky and, as I got closer, the tor became more obvious.
Unfortunately, the weather started to change at this point and, by the time I reached the top, it had clouded over, with a bitterly cold wind. I passed a couple of people who had come from Fettercairn but was the only one on the summit. So, the trusty Dachsteins served as a foreground. They are made of boiled wool, are incredibly warm and almost indestructable. Remarkably, they are still available and much cheaper than modern fabrics.
Getting to the top of the tor is normally a short and easy scramble but today many of the rocks were covered in hoar frost which made them a wee bit slippy. So, I gingerly made my way to the top where I took my first (and possibly last) summit selfie.
The sun was still shining on Aberdeenshire and there were sunbeam effects over Angus. But it looked pretty cold to the west, with Mount Keen invisible in the clouds.
As I headed back for leftover turkey rolls for lunch, the crowds had come out and I met lots of people coming up the hill. The blue here isn’t a clear sky but a foreboding cloud. Yes , one of the people in this picture is wearing shorts in December. He was a very affable chap but, perhaps needless to add, he (it had to be a he) wasn’t local.