15-Jul-2007 -- I was back visiting Scotland for my Mothers 70th birthday. We had rented a house in Ballater for the weekend and the front door of the house was only 6.4km from 3W 57N so it was very tempting to try and visit my first point in Scotland, and the closest to what I call home. We drove up on the Saturday afternoon in steady rain but it cleared up for the evening. We bought an OS map and decided the closest kick off was just south of Ballater on the B976 near Bridgend and then hike up a marked track to within about 1.5km of the point and then across the heather.
However it would only be worthwhile if the weather was good. Next morning, being slightly jet lagged I was up at 5:30 and it was a brilliant clear morning. I had breakfast and waited to see if anyone would join me. My twin John is usually more than game for a bit of exercise and my younger brother Raymond had recently completed the 53 mile Caledonian challenge and more than ready for this stroll. John was first up and after a light breakfast he was raring to go, Raymond was still asleep. We figured get out, good hike and back before everyone else had finished breakfast.
We drove round to Bridgend and found a little recess just by the monument to Queen Victoria meeting with the Gordon Highlanders just prior to their departure and death for many in the Boer war. The track to mount Keen we had identified was clear and we followed it up past a house and onto the hills. It was a steep climb for me, but I could tell John would have rather run it and soon we were at the top at cairn Leuchan, only 1.5km from the point. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies and breathtaking views.
Raymond called to find out where we were, obviously a bit peeved we had left without waiting for him. It was then off across the heather and some peat bogs to the point. Inevitably we managed to get our feet wet but made good progress, setting a few grouse to flight as we went. We passed a line of Grouse shooting stations on the way, crossed the fence between the Glenmuick and Glen Tanar estates and were soon on the point.
Afterwards we cut eastwards to the single line track to Mount Keen. John wanted to see if it was a suitable track for mountain biking. We hit the track and turned northwards over the saddle and back towards Ballater. When we got to the top of the saddle I relented and agreed we could jog the 3.5km down the hill. So we trotted off, picked up the car and was back just in time to finish off the cooked (fried of course) family breakfast. All in all a great start to the day.