Since the days are super long this time of year, we decided to venture a bit farther than our usual hikes around Aberdeen. Instead, we drove about 1.5 hours south to the Angus area to explore what the Cairngorm National Park had to offer us in those parts. I’d been eyeing the walks there for a while, wanting to get my hands on some of the beautiful mountain and valley scenery dotting the area.
We were slightly wary at the directions leading us to the Invermark car park, since none of the last 4 roads we drove on had names. Instead, google maps told us vaguely: after 3.7 miles turn left, after .3 miles slight left, after 2.1 miles turn right, etc. We were mighty relieved when we made our final turn and we saw signs for parking ahead. We always kind of sigh when we finally see confirmation that we are not hopelessly turned around in the Scottish wilderness.
Once we were parked, we followed the walking directions towards our Queen’s Well Hike.
It wasn’t long before we passed through some farmland and grazing fields and had a wide open view towards Mount Keen, the most Easternly ‘Munro’ (Scottish term for ‘mountain’).
The heather was in full bloom, covering the mountains in vibrant shades of purple. The sky was magnificently blue. The grass, vividly green.
It was a truly spectacular day; quite possibly the most beautiful day in Scottish history. We were so glad that we decided to take advantage of the great weather by exploring some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen.
The hike to Queen’s Well was simple and flat, and a round trip from the car park would be about a 5 mile total walking distance. If you are more adventurous, you could continue up the path to the Mount Keen summit.
We decided to take a rest at the Queen’s Well, which was such a photogenic granite monument against the purple hills and blue sky.
Once we had some water and PB&J, I decided that while I might not have the stamina to make it to the Mt. Keen summit, I surely had enough energy to explore the riverside, where our hiking directions told us there was a cave on the other side of the river.
I didn’t want to wade the river to go spelunking, so instead, we decided to try and make it high enough up the mountain to take a few photos looking back over gorgeous Glen Esk.
After this detour, we headed back down toward the Queen’s Well and finally the car park. On our way back, we saw the most elusive of Scottish wildlife: a snake! He was sunning himself right on the trail, and we’ve become so accustomed to not looking for them, that Jonathan walked right past him without even noticing.
I spotted him, and wanted to get a picture, but I was too focused on distracting Bailey from noticing that the snake ended up scooting away before I could get a shot. He was pretty docile though, because Bailey obliviously walked right over him and he calmly slithered into the grass unnoticed by our ‘hunting’ dog.
The presence of the snake just proves how warm it’s been this summer. I’ve been hiking all over this country for the past year and I’ve never seen a single reptile. Part of what I love so much about hiking here is that I don’t have to worry about snakes, whereas in the southern US, it’s my biggest concern, especially with Bailey off lead.I’m still not too concerned, because even though there are a few snakes in Scotland, there aren’t any fatal ones to worry about. We carried on with our return trek without too much excitement.
I’m so glad we decided to explore this walk. It was possibly my most favorite hike since coming to Scotland. I’m sure the weather and the seasonal heather had something to do with the favorable experience, but I’d still recommend it to anyone wanting an easy hike in a mountainous atmosphere.
And there is always Mount Keen for those of you who want more of a challenge. And talk about picturesque!I was an Instagram junkie all afternoon. I kinda regretted not taking our fancy Nikon along for the trek, but since I’m currently carrying an extra 20 pounds or so in my middle section, I have to cut weight where I can. Jonathan’s fancy iPhone 5 did the trick well enough.
Sunday was the polar opposite of Saturday, but still perfect in it’s own way. We woke up to chilly air and stormy skies. The rain was coming down in buckets, giving us the perfect excuse to laze the morning away by reading in bed.
When that got old, Jonathan offered to make me a special breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Yum! Such a great diversion from my usual morning oatmeal and banana. He was really cute about the whole thing and commented, “If I was a blogger, I would probably blog about my husband cooking me breakfast.” So here you go, Jonathan. I’m bragging about you in the blogosphere. Too bad I forgot to snap a picture.
The rest of the day was spent lazing around, watching Big Brother, running to B&Q for painting supplies (more on my painting projects to come…), going to the gym and eating leftovers for dinner. It was the perfect lazy Sunday, which is just what this preggo lady needed after that 7 mile hike on Saturday.
I hope your weekend was just as memorable and blessed!