Footprints Across Scotland

Why not make a few of your own!

29th May 2010

Mount Keen under grey skies.

Shortly after turning off the south Deeside road near Aboyne I crossed the river Dee and headed up toward Glen Tanar. Leaving the van at the first parking space I cycled up past the riding centre and onto the forest track. The river Tanar kept me company on the long but very gradual climb through the trees.

Water of Tanar

A brief spot of sunshine over the Water of Tanar

As I rounded a bend a small group of deer were startled by my sudden appearance before heading off up hill through the trees. Out of the forest the coconut aroma of gorse bushes filled the air and bright yellow flowers illuminated what had been so far a pretty dull day.

Mount Keen

Gathering Cairn & Mount Keen

After passing over the bridge near Etnach I left my bike in the heather by a second bridge a little further up river. I then followed an old fence line uphill to pick up a track running under the west ridge of Red Craig. The path all but disappeared as I rounded the hillside but this was only a short distance from a land rover track running along the south side of Black Craig. Shortly after passing an old hut near a dip in the road I found a deer track cutting a narrow line uphill along the broad north ridge Gathering Cairn. The path slipped west off the crest but I continued uphill to reach a tall well constructed boxed cairn. There were plenty of moss's in evidence as I worked my way further south up onto Braid Cairn. The upper reaches of Mount Keen could be seen peaking above the western edge of this rounded granite boulder strewn top .

Mount Keen from Braid Cairn

Mount Keen from Braid Cairn

I headed across heathery slopes to pick up a path that leads down and across a bealach before climbing the steep upper slopes of Mount Keen. Leaving the path for a while I tried to capture some of the yet unseen wildlife. Soon enough a mountain hare broke cover before pausing a little uphill.

Mountain Hare

Mountain Hare

Shortly after a Ptarmigan's strategy was to remain still and rely on its camouflage, however as I started to move forward again it took a short walk before breaking into flight.



A few walkers came and went as I enjoyed lunch with the threat of a rain never to far away. Showers passed by on nearby hills but apart from a few drops my route had stayed pretty well dry. The Month road provided my route down the northern shoulder of the mountain to a new footbridge. It was a little over a km back along the river to pick up my bike. Oyster catcher and curlew broke the quietness with shrill calls as they emerged from the river bank. Looking back Mount Keen still remained under gloomy skies, although things were starting to brighten further north.

Mount Keen and Water of Tanar

Mount Keen and the Water of Tanar

The cycle back was fairly swift following a mainly downhill gradient. By the time I had reached the van there was plenty sunshine and things looked set for a pleasant evening, the earlier grey giving way to blue.

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