Time is pressing for the HT550, so I decided I needed to do a bit of cramming on the last weekend. I had Saturday morning free and figured my cycling is where it is, so thought there was more to be gained by doing a bit of running to get my legs ready for the upcoming hike a bike fest. Whilst I’m at it, might as well have a wee cycle and bivy too!

The kids were as co-operative as ever, so I headed out the door at 2230 after cleaning up vomit from a bedroom carpetĀ  and performing some hurried packing. I thought I’d take the new Ritchey Commando, to see if it could edge its way ahead as my bike of choice for next weekend. Wondering what I was thinking, I parked up by the Lochnagar distillery and started off into the Balmoral estate at midnight. I was heading for the bealach on the main track between Balmoral and Loch Muick. It’s a nice steady climb from the edge of the forest, so I was hunting round for a bit of level ground for my bivy an hour later and getting a quick brew on.

Comfier than it looks

I figured I’d wake when I woke, so didn’t bother with an alarm.

Nice view to wake up to

It was still cool on the shady side of the pass, so I made myself a cuppa and had a quick breakfast, before laying the bike down out of sight and hopping down to the track. After a short distance, I took the path for the summit plateau.


I jogged along, eventually settling into a brisk walk once it got steep and rocky. Once up on the plateau, there was plenty of room to stretch my legs.

Lochnagar plateau

It was pretty warm in the sun, despite the strong wind and was a lovely place to be this early in the morning.

Looking back towards the bike.
Cac Carn Beag ahead

The summit was reached quickly and I took a few snaps before moving on.

A sense of place
Towards the Stuic

I was originally thinking of going straight back down to the bike, but my natural phobia of out-and-backs kicked in, so I headed down the Glas Allt instead, taking a left at the bridge and contouring round the hill to the bealach again.

Monelpie Moss

The run worked out about 11k, which would have to do for my HT550 legwork preparation (I did fit in another 14k run during the week up Kilpatrick Braes on a work trip). I retrieved the bike, had a bit more food and got ready for a speedy ride back down to Balmoral.

Heading to Balmoral
Gratuitous Commando shot
Path has been resurfaced recently

On the way down, the brakes decided they were going to squeal like a banshee at any opportunity, this was something that would require looking at later, as I can take the odd bit of noise, but this was off the chart! A bit of realignment of the BB7s and copper grease on the back of the pads should help.

Downhill past Ripe Hill

I took a left near Gelder Shiel bothy to take me down around Ripe Hill rather than straight back, then cruised through Balmoral where there was some sort of orienteering championships going on. A short pull up the tarmac to the distillery and I was packed and home by lunch after an extremely enjoyable alternative Friday night.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *