Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
2nd July 2010
Cairn Bannoch from Glen Doll
My Previous walk up from Glen Doll to climb Cairn Bannoch also included Broad Cairn, my route this time would take me via Loch Esk instead. Starting at the Glen Doll car park at the top of Glen Clova a yellow marker post indicated the start of a small circular walk. The way crossed a small picnic area before working its way along the edge of woods following the banks of the river South Esk.
Driesh from near the Glen Doll car park
Further upstream a bridge carried the path over the river and through some pines to meet the main track up the Glen. I continued north through a gate and along the track which lead across some open moorland to the farm at Moulzie. Upon exiting the trees the steep slopes of Cairn Broadlands and the Capel Month presented themselves on either side of the Glen. Ahead the crags of Broom hill appeared to shut off the route further up but the way in fact swings left around the base of the Strone.
Passing around to the right of the farm I continued along the track in the direction of the wood below Dog Hillock. Part way across the expanse of open moor the main track actually bears west to cross the river, although the way is not well defined. I continued straight on to reach the pines before a short section of wooden boardwalk helped to negotiate an area of bog. I was soon back alongside the river near some cascades stretching down from another bridge that carried the path over to rejoin the main track. The craggy nose of the Strone pokes out near this point as opposing hillsides started to encroach on the river changing the Glens contours from 'U' shape to more of a 'V'. The route now bends to the west and starts the long easy ascent up to and into the wood at Bachnagairn.
A small wooden bridge crosses one of two main burns feeding the river and marks the entrance to this sparsely wooded area. After around 100 meters the path splits at a bridge that provides passage over a deep gorge. My last visit saw me cross over here onto a good stalkers path that eases its way up to a bealach between Sandy Hillock and Broad Cairn. I paused near the bridge for a while to try and identify the source of chattering high in the tree tops; it turned out to be a group of Crossbills, the males dressed splendidly in red. Leaving the bridge without crossing I continued uphill along a less defined and boggier path through the last of the trees and on to heathery moor above. The path improved in part as I gained height along the edge of Glittering Skellies and provided fine views back down over Bachnagairn wood to the glen below.
Bachnagairn Wood from Glittering Skellies
As I approached the Craigs of Loch Esk I got my first views down to the Loch itself. Trying to keep out of the heather as much as possible I made my way down to the Loch over the rough damp hillside. A few Teal were on the Loch and made quite a noise as I approached, seemingly more vocal than their cousins, the boisterous Mallard. A number of Sandpiper moved around the shore in a far quieter manner while a black water vole seemed to struggle a little as it swam away heading for the opposite shore. After skirting around the east side of Loch Esk I headed across some more boggy ground to ascend Craig of Gowal.
Loch Esk and Craig of Gowal
The wind that had been blowing strong all day now brought with it some rain and after scanning the horizon I decided to don my water proofs. A group of four deer suddenly appeared on the ridge before me but not hanging around they were soon receding into the distance. A Grouse ran from cover head down as it scurried through the undergrowth, the fact it hadn't took flight possibly indicating that there were young about. The rain increased and the outlook seemed a bit bleak but I continued onto Craig of Gowal and then onto Cairn of Gowal. While dropping to the col before the next top a number of Grouse and there young exploded from the grass in front of me heading, all but one, down wind. The remaining bird followed the same pattern as the previous one and ran head down for a while before deciding to follow the others in flight. From the next top it was about half a kilometre to Cairn Bannoch and fortunately clouds were separating and the rain had stopped. The strong wind ensured that my waterproofs were almost dry to the touch within a few short minutes. The granite strewn top of Cairn Bannoch provided a nice wind break and with the sun now out provided the ideal spot for lunch. Cairn Bannoch makes a pleasant rocky vantage point with views across an extensive plateau that stretches north west to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and south east to Broad Cairn.
Carn an t-Sagairt Mor & Carn an t-Sagairt Beag
To the north the waterfalls of eagles rock ran down off the surrounding mass's of Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach and the White Month.
Eagles Rock and a distant Lochnagar
It looked like the rain may return so I left my waterproofs on as I headed over to Fafernie. The Shank of Fafernie provided a broad ridge line en-route toward the Knaps of Fafernie. A Ptarmigan suddenly appeared at my side, it took a few steps from its hiding place but then stopped looking a bit undecided as what to do next; a couple of grouse took flight a short distance away; this seemed to help with the decision as it too took to the air. A feint path of granite cobbles was showing the way until nearing the Knapps of Fafernie where things turned a little boggy until I picked up Jocks road at the col below.
Loch Esk from Knaps of Fafernie
The pathway now climbed over the grassy top of Crow Craigies giving views back down to Loch Esk. From here it was down to another col and a traverse around a smaller top before descending onto much improved pathway dropping into Glen Doll.
Craig Rennet & Glen Doll forest
A number of orange and black butterflies were tasting some of the purple thistles as I neared the glen floor. Much of the way back now is under the canopy of the pines of Glen Doll forest, the floor covered with a carpet of brown pine needles. This last section as before seemed to take a while to cover but it wasn't too long before I had the kettle on preparing a cuppa back at the van. I enjoyed a little of the late afternoon sunshine while finishing my tea at the end of quite a varied and enjoyable stravaig in the hills.
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