During the first part of September the UK was under a northerly airstream for several days resulting in superbly clear air and pin-sharp views. On a walk up Craig Vallich, a small hill overlooking Ballater on Deeside, a cool morning turned pleasantly sunny and the views gave ample excuse to just sit for a while and enjoy the last of the summer colours.
Early cloud was lifting away from the high ground across lower Glen Muick, the colours of the hill ground contrasting nicely with the varied greens of the glen.
From higher up the stand-out view was across to Lochnagar, particularly given that the morning sun was throwing the features of the mountain's north face into sharp relief. Through binoculars several of the ridges and gully lines were clearly visible. Lochnagar lies on Balmoral estate and is occasionally referred to as the "royal mountain". I've climbed it many times using different routes; it seems always to give me a great day.
To the west the view from this small hill extends for mile after mile, over the fertile Dee valley to the high ground of the Cairngorms. Another scan with binoculars found some hills which are old friends.
Well satisfied with my "daytime viewing", I turned to descend Craig Vallich towards Ballater, with the town's other hill, the rocky little peak of Craigendarroch prominent beyond the town.
Already the colours of early September are on the turn as autumn approaches - a new season's pallete beginning to develop.