Lochnagar is my local Munro. It stands separated from the main Cairngorms, though geologically it's one of the group. I've climbed it several times, but Alan hadn't.
The weather looked good, but there was due to be a strong westerly wind during the afternoon. We decided on doing the ascent the opposite way around from the normal guidebook route; starting at Spittal of Glenmuick and going along the loch to Glas Allt Shiel. Climbing the hill this way, we'd have the wind and the sun at our backs on the summit plateau.
Lochnagar has long royal association. It lies on the Queen's estate of Balmoral and is the setting for a children's book written by Prince Charles. This grand building is Glas Allt Shiel, a shooting lodge built by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert as a quiet retreat. It's in a beautiful spot on the shore of Loch Muick, surrounded by pine wood.
Behind the house, a path climbs steeply to meet the Glas Allt (Green Stream) tumbling down from the plateau above. It was a warm Spring day, we were in T-shirts at this point, and snowmelt was trickling from the big snowbeds built up over the winter.
The Glas Allt waterfall looked superb in the bright sunshine. The water here flows over granite rather than peat, so is very clear (and cold). After filling our water bags, we continued up towards the high ground.