Essential Information If in doubt about anything, email firstname.lastname@example.org Walks Grading Each day, there are three or four categories of walk; Strenuous, Medium, Easy and Special Interest. A professional guide will lead the high-level Strenuous ones. Other walks will be led by experienced walkers with knowledge of Royal Deeside or rangers from Muir of Dinnet NNR, Aberdeenshire Council and Balmoral with expertise in flora, fauna and local history. Before making a choice, please read each walk description and the walk gradings listed below. • Strenuous These may include some of the following; significant ascent and descent of a Munro or two, considerable length in a remote area, crossing burns, easy scrambling, exposure to drops and perhaps at a brisk pace . These walks are for experienced hillwalkers with an above average level of fitness and stamina. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential. Walkers unsure of their ability should contact the organisers in advance. • Medium Normally around nine to twelve miles, these walks are for participants who have a good level of fitness and experience of walking longer distances. There may be significant overall ascent, including a hill and other demanding aspects such as bog, thick heather, and varied surfaces including open hillside in a remote area. • Easy Taken at a fairly relaxed pace and usually under seven miles, there will be minimum gradients. For anyone who does not have a mobility difficulty, a specific health problem or is seriously unfit. An easy walk will be mainly on good paths and tracks with no sustained, very steep slopes or significant stretches of slippery or uneven surfaces. There may be a stile to cross . • Special Interest Led by a ranger or someone with a specific interest, these walks of about five to six miles will be at an easy pace to allow plenty of time to look and learn about many things including wildlife, conservation, flowers, history, geology and archaeology. Equipment In Upper Deeside and the Eastern Cairngorms, the weather and ground conditions can be challenging, particularly on high-level walks. An ill-equipped walker can pose a threat to their own safety and to the group as a whole. Being suitably equipped is essential. Looking back over the years of the Ballater Walking Festival, we have had snow on high level walks and also some very hot weather; both extremes pose a different set of potential problems. Everyone should be aware of the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. On a hill or a remote area, conditions can be significantly cooler, wetter and windier than in Ballater and can change very quickly. Always carry plenty of water. If a sunny day is forecast, include a sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and extra water. • For Easy walks we recommend sturdy, ankle-supporting footwear, warm clothing, warm hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and over trousers, a rucksack to carry adequate food and drink for the length of the walk, a spare layer of clothing, and any personal medication that might be needed. • For Medium and Strenuous walks, we ask walkers to ensure they have all of the things needed for an Easy walk plus full hillwalking gear: Boots, warm clothing, quick drying trousers (not denim jeans), waterproof jacket and over trousers, rucksack, warm hat, gloves, spare fleece, packed lunch, spare food and drink, small personal first aid kit including any medications and perhaps a mobile phone, walking poles, gaiters and a sun hat.