June 2, 2017 - 3 comments

Off the Grid

Escaping civilization in a hike across three remote lochs in the Cairngorms.

The initial plan was to use the Loch Muick as a starting point to reaching the high plateau and enjoy some views, but after the dawn, it was clear that anywhere above ~600m of elevation, the visibility will be non-existent. This in mind, I considered the map and came up with an idea of staying below the clouds and exploring the lochs nearby instead. As nobody else was keen to join me, I set off on my own.

Calm and peaceful.

The Loch Muick is a good sized loch in the south east of the Cairngorms National Park, just behind Glen Cova. It is some 10 miles from the closest town, and the last few miles are by a restricted road. That said, it is not a very crowded place to start with. Mainly during mornings, there is hardly any traffic at all. By 9:30, I passed a pretty pine forest...

..and then I was the only human as far as one could see for the rest of the day. However, there were some other users of the trail...

The trail gradually started going uphill, the air was fresh, and it felt good.

every now and then, solitude is good.

The path leads toward a neat waterfall...

every now and then, a selfie is not a sin

..and then continues to the Allt an Dubh Loch.  But I opted for a diversion and just as the trail crosses the river I went straight to the falls and started climbing along them.

I was in no rush, taking up a terrain that suited my comfort zone and had a lot of fun.

Standing on the top of the waterfall.

When I reached the top, it started raining. But instead of being upset, I was grateful that the rain didn't start a half way up, as that would make the climb harder. "Good timing," I thought and went to check out the second loch of my trip, named Buidhe, which lays just behind the falls. Nevermind the rain, it was a great area to enjoy.


Later on, I followed the ridge leading to the last loch of the hike, Allt an Dubh. Before it came in sight, the rain quit and there was something different that caught my attention. While there was no sign of any humans anywhere, deer footprints were all over the place.

Deer footprints.

The massive number of them made me think whether I could spot some deer or two. Well, and this question got an answer in no time. Looking across the hills, I noticed some motion in between rocks and heather. I focused and recognized a few outlines of those majestic animals. Their fur blends with the surrounding environment like a high-tech camouflage.
Suddenly, the herd started moving, and finally I realized what I had in front of me. There were dozens of them! It was like the earth would undergo a landslide.


I tried to count but I lost tracking around 45. When they noticed me, they stopped and for a few moments we played a staring contest.

What an incredible experience, I was thinking, when a view on the Allt an Dubh Loch opened in front of me.

The clouds were stagnating not too far above the water level, creating an impressive atmosphere.

There is something special about Scotland obscured in a fog, something very appealing to me. It is something similar like when a person can be more attractive with a wisely chosen dress than fully naked. The unknown triggers imagination, sense of adventure and the will to explore.
It is soaked in everything here: think about the Nessie cult, for example. You can follow the science, leaving the place ordinary. Or you can leave it up to your colorful fantasy. Here, I could only speculate how far those cliffs soar. Brilliant.

At the end of the loch is a sandy beach. If I would be to build a custom-made place for my lunch, I couldn't do it any better; it was perfect. However, the best spot was separated from me by a river. No bother, I thought, leaving my shoes and trousers behind. The water was cold, but it was a fun thing to do and when I got out on the other side, the fresh air felt suddenly warm.

Picnic time.

After the lunch, I couldn't resist and jumped to the loch. It was properly freezing, so it didn't take long until I layered up, and started walking back where I started, to the loch Muick. Another rain came in shortly; good timing, again.

Thanks for reading.


See my previous articles about Scotland for more similar stories.

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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories

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