Somewhere up here was what the book called an “amazing panorama of mountains and glens”. Too bad all we could see was a few yards of rocky plateau disappearing into dense mist. Somewhere up here too was the chance of losing our bearings, and sheer drops if we did. My companion was my youngest daughter, 11 years old then. I wanted her to reach 12, so turning back was the wise choice.
We were on a mountain in Scotland called Lochnagar. It’s an odd name for a mountain, as if Mt Washington were called Lakes of the Clouds instead. Lochnagar (pronounced Loch-na-GAR) comes from Gaelic, and means something like “noisy lake”. It’s a small loch in a cirque of the mountain, but has come to mean the mountain itself.
I posted last year about a hike in the Orkney Islands in July 2011. Lochnagar was on the same trip. We stopped in the Cairngorm Mountains – of which Lochnagar is loosely one – on our journey north. We set out from Spittal of Glenmuick (nothing to do with spittle or muck), and followed the shore of Loch Muick. (“Muick” comes from the Gaelic for pig, so I guess I lied about the muck.) There were foxgloves in the fresh bracken as we climbed above the loch to the Falls of Glasallt (pictured above).
From there it was a steady climb across bare uplands. There was a good track. But the mountains ahead were smothered in thick gray cloud. We weren’t optimistic about that amazing panorama, but pushed on until we too were smothered. Somewhere ahead was the edge of the bowl that holds the noisy lake. There was always a chance the mist would dissolve to reveal everything. But it looked determined to stay put, so it was us who disappeared off the mountain.