On a day when the Mountain Weather Information Service was forecasting severe gales from the southwest on the highest mountains, I felt that something a bit lower would still give a good day on the hill. Better still if I could put the wind at my back. The Hills of Cromdale on the Glenlivet Estate seemed to fit the bill nicely, plus it's just a short drive from home.
The walk starts pleasantly alongside the River Avon, just along from the Tomintoul Distillery, where a minor road leads to a hill track striking straight up the hill.
The hills are a wonderful, rich brown colour at the moment as the deer grass and heather start to colour up. This is grouse shooting country, with shooting butts like this old example dotting the hillside. On grouse moors, the heather is burned in strips and patches in rotation to give variety in the age of the heather which these hardy birds depend on. The hills get a characteristic striped look which is particularly noticeable at this time of year.
One advantage of having the southwest wind at my back is that I also got the low autumn sun at my back too. Looking southwest into the sun, the line of ridges over toward Abernethy looked like a Japanese painting.