Hill of the Herdsman
By James Carron
Meall a'Bhuachaille rises up above Loch Morlich offering excellent views
over the forests of Rothiemurchus and the majestic Cairngorm mountains beyond.
After a hearty climb the walk descends over the eastern slope of Meall a'Bhuachaille (translating from Gaelic as 'hill of the herdsman') to a tiny bothy at Ryvoan. Then the return leg cuts through a steep sided glen dotted with twisted Scots Pine trees and passes by An Lochan Uaine where the pure water glistens green on a sunny day and the sandy shores provide a fine point to pause.
Pink heather graces the hillside as it dons its colourful coat of summer while
blaeberry bushes growing by the path provide a refreshing snack towards the end
of August. In winter a crunchy covering of snow transforms the whole area and a
crisp clear day may see mountain hare or ptarmigan out in their winter whites.
A kilometre from the start the way swings left to cross the burn on a substantial wooden bridge. It runs level for a few yards before turning right to climb again, the verges lined with heather, grass and blaeberry bushes.
After a strenuous climb, the path emerges on to open moorland at the top of the
trees. The summit of Meall a'Bhuachaille, glimpsed briefly through gaps on the
way up through the forest, can now be seen clearly, standing proud ahead.
Continue to climb, a wide path cutting a route through the heather over peaty
Descend east over an obvious path which loses height gradually initially. Several hundred yards beyond the summit, a path branches off to the right. Take either route as they join up again before the path drops more steeply behind Ryvoan bothy. Take care as the path can be muddy on the steep section and there are loose stones underfoot.
At Ryvoan bothy, the path meets up with a track. Turn right at the small stone bothy and follow this south west. Half a kilometre on it reaches a junction of rights of way with green signs pointing back towards Nethy Bridge and Braemar. Carry straight on here, the track passing down through a narrow steep sided glen, the slopes dotted with Scots Pine trees and rock falls.
At An Lochan Uaine, a small stretch of water surrounded by trees and, on one
side, a scree slope, the track runs round above the west shore and a path
branches off to the right. Don't take this but stay with the track, following it
down towards Glenmore Lodge.