Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
24th October 2010
Wolf Craig bares its teeth during our first taste of winter.
Shadows cast by swift moving clouds added to the atmosphere as we snaked our way up an autumnal Glen Esk. It had been some time since I had visited this lovely Glen and it would turn out to be an enjoyable return. Glen Mark and Glen Lee emanate from the head of the Glen and would form our outward and return paths respectively. The Glens are flanked by reasonably steep hillsides, which we would need to cross over to link the Glens at roughly mid-point in our walk. Shortly after leaving the car park at Invermark we turned off the main track and headed toward the House of Mark. A branch in the track just before the house lead us into Glen Mark and easily up and beyond the queens well. Ignoring the Month road as it made its way over toward Glen Tanar we followed the water of Mark as it turned westward.
We should probably have made a crossing of the river here but continued along on the right side, this turned out to be the "wrong" side later on! The dome shaped crags of Counternach signalled the start of a section of splendid water formed rock sculptors and pools. Reddish water pushed its way through some narrow chutes and water ways with some force before dropping into dark hollows. Some care was required as we negotiated our way along this section of slippery rock before reaching a waterfall after which the going eased.
Waterfall, Glen Mark
It is around this point that Balnamoon's cave is marked on the map but despite scanning the hillside opposite there were no real clues to its position. We now started to look for a crossing point but the water of Mark was flowing at a fair rate and we soon realised it may be a problem. After searching for a while it was decided that a wee paddle was in order so after finding a good spot it was boots off. Enzo had waded across before us without any difficulty so gave a good indication that the reddish brown waters were not too strong or deep. The first two steps out into the flow didn't seem too bad but the cold soon started to bite so it was with some relief that we emerged at the other side. With socks and boots back on feet soon felt warm and so we started our ascent of the heathery slopes leading onto Wolf Craig. As we followed the path of a burn uphill we were treated to our first snow shower of the day but it soon passed on the brisk breeze. Over our shoulder the dome of mount Keen came onto view shining white as the sun broke through the clouds. There was also a reasonable covering of snow on Wolf Craig and this was added to by a passing blizzard as we neared the five or so cairns that mark the top.
Enzo and Stephan on Wolf Craig
Enzo was enjoying himself rolling round in the snow while the rest of us zipped up coats and pulled on hats.
Nathalie, Me and Enzo on Wolf Craig
The snows soon passed and the sun broke free once again but the cold wind meant that we didn't hang around too long.
Cairngorms from Wolf Craig
We headed down into Glen Lee starting toward Shanks of Lairs before heading down through a narrowing defile to the Stables of Lee. A couple of hardy horses were out in the fenced paddock and came across to say hello, Enzo thought about having a play..... but was on his best behaviour. The stable was made up of two compartments, one to house the horses while the other contained riding gear and feed amongst other things. A chair and bales of hay provided optional seating as we had our lunch during which time Stephan donated one of his apples as a treat for the horses. The Deer opposite the stables on Hunt hill were enjoying the lowering sun while accompanied by a rutting Stag making his presence felt by emitting long drawn out bellows. Land rover track lead from the stables and eased our way down the Glen following the waters of Lee to the loch of the same name. The light was starting to fade as we made our way along the loch side accompanied by the noise of more stags on the far bank. Leaving the loch behind we passed by the ramparts of Invermark Castle before finally reaching the car park and the end of the walk.
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