We were clearly not the first to have walked this way in recent days. To tell you the truth, many others had probably gone before us this very morning. The powder white snow bearing the tell tale signs of a throng of size 10s. At least we now had the luxury of a half light approach on a firm trail, still, heavy legs and a building sweat excused the occasional interuption to our brisk pace. Behind us, the rising sun brought with it a magical south Cairngorm dawn; the clear sky reflecting the colours of its emerging warmth. I'd never before been here in winter.
People, I have heard, wax lyrical of the great north east Coire of Lochnagar. I've been here just once, a summer solo of Eagle Ridge, but it's in winter that the true majesty of this royal coire is felt. Dropping down from the Meikle Pap col I make a mental picture, as my eyes track the length of the Coire picking out guidebook lines - my expression of a first impression that will last a lifetime. It has been said that if the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognise it. I'd like to think there is some truth in that.