Friday 15th April
This particular walk was actually a second choice this week. After the success of last week at Pressendye we were keen to walk high again and during the week we had decided on Hunt Hill in Glen Esk. However as the week went on I became a wee bit concerned that maybe we were running before we could walk so decided on something a bit lower. In the end today turned out to be the longest we'd been out this year and whether it was any easier than Hunt Hill would have been is debatable.
We set off from the Glen Tanner carpark at around nine forty five. It was a mild but cloudy morning but promised to get brighter as the day went on.
We crossed over the hump-backed bridge from the carpark and headed out to St Lesmo Chapel. As I think I've said before on previous blogs I've photographed this building on many occasions but always feel that I don't do it justice. However I tried again, just because I could!
From the chapel it's a gentle walk along the riverside for half an hour or so until we crossed the Water of Tanner at the second bridge then a sharp left after a hundred yards or so started us on our first uphill pull of the day. The path here is up through a forest of Scots Pine and is quite pleasant in its own way. After about forty minutes or so we cleared the tree line and the path levelled out and we got our first view of our goal for today. It was time for a coffee and some chocolate!
Felling refreshed from our sugar hit we set off along the track that skirts along the flanks of Clachan Yell before circling around the back and up towards its sister hill Black Craig. The easiest, and longest, route to the summit of Clachan Yell is to stay on the track until it climbs to the highest point before doubling back and following the ridge back for a while with a final pull to the summit. However there does come a time when the ridge looks close enough that, with a bit of effort, we decided that we shorten the overall distance. As it turned out it was probably the right thing to do but if we'd known how difficult the heather would be we may have decided otherwise.
After some difficult walking we reached the ridge line and were rewarded with some great views of the distant Cairngorms, Lochnagar and the closer Mount Keen. From here it was a straightforward pull up the last climb to the summit boulders, (626m), and more great views, this time down the length of Glen Tanner.
From the summit we made our way back down the full length of the ridge line until we met up with the original track then turned right and headed up the last little climb of the day around the flank of Black Craig. Fortunately it's a short pull and we were soon heading down towards the river with some great views of the mighty Mount Keen and the almost as mighty Gathering Cairn.
The next problem now was how we were going to get across the river. The O&S map shows a path that cuts diagonally across the hill at one point to reach a bridge on the main track. I knew from doing this walk some years ago that the start of path wasn't obvious and, as it happens, we missed it this time round. This left us with a decision to make; should we try and ford the river or retrace our steps back up the hill a bit and see if we could find the start of the path. In the end we decided that we'd try for a hop skip and jump across the stepping stones. Well that might be a wee bit of poetic licence but let's just say that two fifty something's shouldn't have had as much fun crossing a river!
From this point we joined up with the main Mt Keen path and made our way back down the length of Glen Tanner. It was a a fairly uneventful walk out. The weather by now was great and the fact that we were running a bit later than we had anticipated mattered not at all. We stopped at the (in)famous Halfway Hut for the last of our food and coffee and it was here that, apart from some estate workers in 4 x 4s, we met the first people of the day.
We were now walking along tracks that we've walked on many occasions but as sometimes happens there was one surprise left for us. We were only about fifteen minutes from the car when we came across a deer, (probably a Roe hind, but I'm no expert), and she was in no hurry to leave. In fact she watched us walk all the way past and even let me change the lens on my camera!
Well that was pretty well it for the day. We had left the car at around nine forty five and finally dragged our tired bodies back at just before six. It had been a glorious day out in the hills and if this is an example of what our Fridays are going to be like then I can't wait!!