Getting into the hills of Aberdeenshire now is easier than you might think when you have the right guide.
A conversation with Garry Cormack from Hillgoers
Adventuring out into the hills of Scotland is much more than gaining altitude. Our landscape has a lot of stories to tell and by exploring and taking up hillwalking you can experience the wonder that is Scotland.
We are heading into the hills with mountain guide Garry Cormack from Hillgoers. Garry shares tales of his adventures on the hills, and why he loves going out and into nature. Hillgoers, offer guided walking adventures throughout Scotland. Their team of qualified mountain guides will show you the best of the hills. Hillgoers also work with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, helping young people develop skills and knowledge to become outdoor adventurers.
As a business owner and outdoor enthusiast, Garry has a profound respect for nature and our environment. Guests will not only learn new skills but develop a deeper appreciation of our history and landscape along the way. To hear Garry’s story and his experiences, use the podcast player below.
Books on Mountain Experiences
Garry shared some of his “top picks” when it comes to reading more about the landscape, history and culture of Scotland and Aberdeenshire. Few are better than those by Dr Adam Watson.
Dr Watson (1930 – 2019) was a Scottish biologist, ecologist and mountaineer. He was one of the most recognisable scientific figures in Scotland. His contributions to the understanding of the flora and fauna in Scotland are internationally recognised. Dr Watson was known as Scotland’s pre-eminent authority on the Cairngorms mountain range. Hillgoers offers a selection of books on their website , profits from the sale of the books are donated to North East Mountain Trust. The Mountain Trust is a charity whose aim is to conserve the environment of the hills of north east Scotland for the benefit of the public, both now and in the future.
For stories of life in the Cairngorms, particularly as a Cairngorm Mountain Rescue leader, look no further than “Cairngorm John; A life in in Mountain Rescue” – by John Allen. The recent re-release of the book, due to its popularity, meant John Allen could share why he wrote the book. He said it was to:
Seton Gordon (1886 – 1977) was a Scottish naturalist, photographer and folklorist. Gordon began exploring the Highlands of Scotland as a boy, and he was passionate about the Cairngorms. He became world-famous writing and describing the wildlife and scenery of Scotland. A book called “Seton Gordon’s Cairngorms” by Hamish Brown, is a combination of writings by Gordon about the Cairngorms throughout the seasons and descriptions of the wildlife.
There is a lot of sensible information available online, with tips and hint on how to get “hill fit” as well as planning and packing for your hill adventures. Most offer the same key points:
- Bring & wear the right gear. Make sure you have sturdy footwear that will keep your feet supported and comfortable for your journey. Wear layers to help control your body temperature avoiding cotton based clothes if possible. Have waterproof jacket and trousers to hand at all times.
- Stay fuelled and hydrated on your walk. Have plenty of energy rich foods with you and water or water filters so you can top up. It is wise to have some extras just in case things go wrong, you are out longer than planned or you may be able to help someone else.
- Become familiar with reading and interpreting OS maps, navigation tools and emergency procedures before you head out. Trying to learn on the job is not recommended.
- Take care. Don’t go alone unless you are experienced, tell some your plans and when you expect to be back. Check the weather forecast and conditions and finally, take it one step at time. Don’t venture onto hills or mountains if you haven’t built up the fitness or experience. Start slowly and work your way up. (if you’ll excuse the pun!)
Hillwalking in Scotland is not a new things, people have been exploring the hills and mountains of Scotland for generations! For some getting into the hills is an opportunity to spend time on your own or with close group of friends, but for others it is a chance to get outside doing something you love, and meet new people. One of the oldest established clubs is Aberdeen Hillwalking, who formed their group in the 1940’s. The club organises regular walks both in summer and winter of around 12-20 miles in length and welcomes new members from all walks of life. The outings start from Aberdeen and transport is provided to the walk destination. Non member are also welcome to sign up for a walk and are charged £17.00 but registration is required to manage numbers.
A useful website to visit if you are planning walks or looking for inspiration is Walk Highlands, the interactive website gives information on walking routes in particular areas. Website contributors can add their own reviews, photos and descriptions for walks which help beginning walkers identify possible hills and routes to try. They also have written a number of articles which offer inspiration and guidance such as Scotland’s best wee hills. There is also a special section on their site dedicated to Munro bagging!
Walking up Clachnaben
The video below shows a walk which is found in Deeside/Aberdeenshire, up the iconic Clachnaben hill. It is recognisable because of a large granite Tor which can be seen for miles around.