2 short walks and a camp. Glen Esk April 2011.

Date: Saturday – Sunday 2nd-3rd April 2011
Distance: 12 +15km
Ascent: 650 + 750m

Weekend forecast suggested the E and SE highlands might catch some sun. Also fancied getting the tent out but high camping looked less appetising so we planned for a low camp.

Had a long lie in Edinburgh and headed for Glen Esk, arriving at 1430. Parked at the roadside at Ferneybank. There is also parking at the phonebox at Milden Lodge.

Followed the track down to the bridge at NO 534 783. Turn left here for 100m and the back-track right on the rising vehicle track running out to Keenie.

A warm sunny day in the glen, full of the sounds of Peewits, curlew, larks and pipits.

Mount Battock:

Also lots of signs of managed grouse moors – mink/rat traps and medicated grit everywhere.

A pretty simple, hands-in-pockets route – follow the track uphill between Burn of Beag and Burn of Garrat to the summit ridge and then walk to the summit.

The summit is very boggy but has excellent views. Could see south to the Pentlands across Fife. Great views of the Mearns and the coast from Montrose to Aberdeen.

Lochnagar and Ben Tirran:

Lochnagar was brooding to the NW.

Montrose Basin:

NE across Aberdeenshire:

Lochnagar over summit tarn:

Turned for home and simply reversed route. Very nippy in the wind on the summit again warmed to hot in the sheltered sunshine.

Mount Battock over Glen Esk:

Hill of Wirren from car:

Back at the car we had a think about camp pitches. We’d passed a few potential spots but we decided to head to the top of the glen and walk a wee bit from the parking.

Walked 1km from the car park up Glen Mark and found a decent pitch. Stuck up the tent and conjured up some food – the night was surprisingly mild.

Slept well – little wind and the occasional shower. Up for dawn – tops in clag but a few sunny gaps for atmosphere.

20 minutes back to the car and then drove back to Milden Lodge. Parked at the phone box.

Took the road up to Mill of Aucheen and then the track turning R in front of the cottage to follow the Burn of Turret. Once again the fields were alive with sound. Watched the Peewits dancing in the air and calling. Strange to think how quiet these places are in February!

Took the left hand track round Allrey which ascends to near the summit of Wester Cairn. Again just a simple stroll. Hill of Wirren across Glen Esk:

A few hares (but less than you’d expect). Once onto the summits the Plovers were calling.

Reached the summit in about 2hrs. Very parky in a stiff breeze. Another great viewpoint – clear views to Pressendyne and the Buck and across the plains of Aberdeenshire. These views are quite unusual with flat agricultural land stretching away into the distance. The spaciousness doesn’t come across well in photos but is well worth the visit.

Clachnaben from summit:

Brooding Lochnagar:

Aberdeenshire and Bennachie:

Ducked into a sunny sheltered spot for 30 minutes lunch.

Dropped down the fenceline to Hill of Saughs. A track runs from the summit back down to the glen.

The day was getting cloudier as we dropped and the wind increasing so we thought we timed it well.

Back to the car in 4hrs. A reasonably quick drive back to NE Fife had us in very good time for a family gathering – only 1 jug of coffee needed for resuscitation.

The estate in Glen Esk seems heavily grouse managed – was quite surprised by the lack of other wildlife on the grouse areas. We do need to get back out at the head of the glen though.

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