Boxing Day dawned cold and frosty, I stepped out from the house for a walk on the Correen Hills into a bracing -6 degrees Celsius, ideal conditions for walking off festive food!
The frost had been deep and penetrating and wouldn't lift all day. Thin winter sunlight lent some brightness but not much warmth through a haze of frosty cloud. The world seemed somehow stilled and there was barely a sound to be heard on the walk up a the valley on a farm track.
The only running water was in a small burn coming from the slopes of Manabattock Hill which had created miniature chandeliers of ice, improbably suspended from just one reed.
Climbing out of the valley via the Fouchie Shank got me into the sunlight which felt a degree or two warmer than the blue shade in the valley. Ahead the slopes of the day's objective of Lord Arthur's Hill with the line of shooting butts visible on the skyline. The climb isn't steep but I was at least able to walk some warmth into cold muscles. The ground was bone hard, every drop of moisture locked into ice.
A mix of snow and frost formed a light coating on the ground and the frost had lent the heather shoots temporary white flowers of exquisite delicacy. The constrast between these miniature wonders and the wider view was startling.....
...to look up from the ground was to have the eye drawn miles through the frosty air. To the north west lie The Buck o' the Cabrach and far Ben Rinnes.
To the south the view is dominated by Lochnagar, the elegant ridgelines of the mountain could be clearly picked out through binoculars, the air was gin-clear in this direction.
After a brief stay at the summit of Lord Arthur's Hill I turned to the southeast and headed back down towards the warmth of home and family. My walk had been barely three hours, but what a Christmas cracker......