Glas Maol ES-012
Someone’s having a laugh here as this is the easiest 8 points I can imagine! Well it’s due to being able to park at about 2000ft on Scotland’s highest public road.
I parked at the Glenshee Ski Centre where there’s room for several hundred cars. The Southernmost car park is best and the 1:50000 map doesn’t show that there are 2 car parks. You can’t miss the huge scar of a track the runs up from there. The whole area is not very pretty, there are ski tows everywhere in the area and most look very dilapidated. A coat of paint would improve matters no end.
Anyway, ignoring the unsightly junk follow the track. It’s a good pull and then a dip where you pass a load of ski buildings and then up again tracking another ski tow to the summit of Meall Odhar. This is the end of the track with a hardcore base. There’s a good path to the summit of Glas Maol though. Another descent to a slightly boggy area and then up Glas Maol proper. The forecast was for cloudbase to be around 900m and it was. The Cairnwell at 933m (the easiest of all Munros) was in and out of the cloud and the so was Glas Maol. The next path is easy to follow, its quite eroded and obvious. Which is just as well as it tracks close to Coire Fionn, a huge bowl which is popular with skiers and you don’t want to end up in there by mistake.
So after the sharp pull up onto Glas Maol suddenly you come out onto nothing! The summit is a huge plateau which is almost flat. I couldn’t see anything in the mist and now the path now starts to peter out, there’s also a lot more rock and scree on the summit. I did notice 2 iron fence posts typical of county boundary fences and 3 counties do meet at the summit. I had a bearing for the summit cairn from the path on the map and I followed that for probably no more than a few minutes when the cairn appeared on the correct bearing. Anquet says 1hr 21mins for that route and it took me 1hr 5mins including faffing about at the start and going back for my phone which I left on the roof of the car!
Setup is easy with such a huge area to play on. However the first thing I did as I could still see and iron post was to make a line of stones pointing to the way off, saves time when it you’re ready to leave. 60m worked well and I spent sometime calling on 2m for only 2 contacts. I’d have expected better from there though. I had my butties and packed up ready with 8 points for very little effort.
There are a host of Munros to bag from here. Creag Leacach is easy, as unusually for this part of Scotland, there is a drystane dyke running along its ridge, hard to get lost. You can do a nice round walk from Glas Maol to Creag Leacach down to Meall Gorm and the onto a path that hooks up with the path by the ski tows. It takes you down to near some Grouse Butts which I wanted to avoid them two days into the season. Also the Hillphone service was requesting walkers to stick to the ridges. I couldn’t see the point of wandering along to Creag Leacach in the mist, there was no view. Likewise it’s no effort to pick up Cairn of Claise, Carn an Tuirc or Tolmont to make it a 5 Munro day. I can’t see the point of going up hills just to tick them off a list. Anyway, Mount Blair was calling and that was another 4 points!
On the way back, shortly after starting the steep path down, the cloud lifted enabling me to see where I’d been and Creag Leacach. Typical! I went back the way I’d come and jumped in the car ready for Mount Blair.
The A93 is a great road but a bit narrow and windy in places. Driving on it would be easier if people would remember to 1) leave a gap between them and the car in front so I can overtake and 2) leave their bloody caravans at the border in England. The road was full of tourists dawdling along or bunched up behind a tin-tent too afraid to overtake. Didn’t they know I was on a mission?
Mount Blair ES-035
Barry GM4TOE called this a boring hill. He’s right, it has few redeeming features. However, I passed by it both there and back and not activating on Monday meant I had to make up for it. I parked at NO154642 and walked along to the gate at the start of the track marked on the 1:50000 map. This seemed endless and much harder work than Glas Maol. Just trudge up and hope the mist on its top had gone. Funny, it’s 300m lower than Glas Maol but had more mist around it!
1hr 10mins later I was on the air and activity was brisk again, and no cloud. The view of Mount Blair is poor as there is a big comms tower on it. The view to the surrounding hills is fantastic. I spoke at length about this to Frank G3RMD. By the time I had finished and packed up ready to take some photos, the cloud was back with rain this time. So I made my descent back down the track.
Things were going great till I noticed the cows. On the way up the fields were full of sheep. I don’t mind sheep, they get out of the way. Cows are different and often inquisitive. Anyway they looked different to cows in some way. Yes, they only seem to have one teat and no real udder… “Bullocks”, I said out loud. Well I was hoping they were bullocks. I went a long way round over rough grass to avoid them. This meant going through the swampy bit as well. I just got back to the car when the spots of rain that had been falling since the cloud rolled in got heavy. Then whilst I was changing boots and stuff, a red squirrel walked past about 10ft away. It was gone before I could get the camera. That’s the first one I ever seen. Much prettier than those grey tree-rats.
Barry’s right, this is a boring hill and I only did it as I was passing. Certainly not worth driving out to unless you are going somewhere else. Even knowing you might see a red squirrel doesn’t increase its merrit!
Distance walked 6.2 miles, ascent 813m/2667ft, distance driven 198.5miles
Pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf