The Glas Maol Munros Circuit 9th October 2016

The October club outing was billed as a day walk in Glenshee. Prior to the event it was suggested that there could be 2 possible routes, The Glas Maol Munros Circuit and the The Cairnwell Munros and that was how it turned out, two groups of four.

This report briefly describes the Glas Maol Munros Circuit route.

The objective for us was to bag 4 munros, Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol and Creag Leacach which we would be tackling in that order. Our driver was willing to drive in the dark, so, to make best use of daylight on the hills 3 of us set off at 6am for the 2 hour drive to Glenshee with the fourth member of our group making his own way to Glenshee which he reached just as the first 3 were leaving the car park for the hills as we had been invited to do by No.4 who said he would catch us up. We waited for No. 4 to get ready and we all set off together at about 08:15.

The weather was glorious as we set off in bright sunshine and weather forecasts predicted there would be little or no wind on the hills. I was quite happy to knock off some munros in Glenshee because I knew the start points were at quite a high altitude. I believe our start point was at about 520metres.

The initial walk in to Carn an Tuirc took us across some boggy ground but the path was well trod and pretty easy to follow until we reached the shielings. The walk description on Walkhighlands stated we should cross a tributary burn beyond the second shieling - I’m still looking for the second shieling !

Carn an Tuirc on the right  with Carn Dubh on the left

Carn an Tuirc on the right  with Carn Dubh on the left

At this point the path became difficult to follow so maps and navigational devices were consulted and we set an agreed course for the summit of Carn an Tuirc.

The ascent was fairly straightforward and as expected a wee bit troublesome on the final leg over the boulders guarding the summit. Before reaching the summit we were able to take in some great views down towards the Cairnwell Pass.

The Cairnwell Pass from Carn an Tuirc

The Cairnwell Pass from Carn an Tuirc

We also had time to observe the plumage of ptarmigans blending in with those same boulders. It was during this ascent we spotted our first couple of  mountain hares still in their summer fur coats.

On the summit of Carn an Tuirc  3.jpg

As detailed in the walk description the summit cairn and small shelter sit together on a flat stony plateau with great views all around. There was not much point in hanging around so after a couple of summit photos we pressed on towards Cairn of Claise.

The route followed a grassy track across some unremarkable grassy terrain, thereafter it followed, what we found would be a common theme of the day, terrain which became stonier underfoot. Alongside the stonier ground the remains of a dry stone wall gave us a guide to the summit of Cairn an Claise. 

On the summit of Cairn of Claise

On the summit of Cairn of Claise

 

The cairn at Cairn of Claise is situated beside a break in the dry stone wall and at first look I thought it was just the rubble from the wall and not a cairn.

Two down two to go and we were making good time.

The route to the summit of Glas Maol was straightforward enough. The track we were to follow was easily seen in the sunshine and it looked as though it had been well used by a quad bike or some such vehicle. Also spotted in the sunshine was a figure walking towards us with a couple of dogs. As he came closer we discovered he was a shepherd looking for his sheep. We hadn’t seen any for the past 3 hours!

 

Back on track again and it was a short hop up from the track to the summit of Glas Maol. On the way up we spotted quite a few more mountain hares in their summer coats. Loads of them in fact, they must be breeding up there.

Glas Maol

Glas Maol

 

We had planned to stop at Glas Maol for a wee bite to eat. As it was dinner time when we got there we dined. A pleasant spot in the sunshine to stop and, as forecast, no wind,  although having said that, as a couple of clouds came over the drop in temperature was noticeable. The weather forecast predicted temperatures at the summit of 2 DegC however it was hard to reconcile that figure sitting in the sunshine at midday.

Whilst at our pit stop we heard what could be described as a series of loud groans but we couldn’t recognise the sounds nor spot the source.

Dinner time on the summit of Glas Maol

Dinner time on the summit of Glas Maol

 

Where we sat we could see the ridge leading to Creag Leacach directly in front of us and it looked likely we could follow straight across to the summit. As we moved off we met a fellow walker coming from the other direction who advised that there was a significant dip on the most direct route. His advice was to follow a line of fence posts round, which we did until we reached another dry stone wall at Bathach Beag and again it became stonier underfoot. From here we walked over the rockier slopes on the ascent to Cul Riabhach.

Looking towards Creag Leacach

Looking towards Creag Leacach

Creag Leacach

Creag Leacach

 

When we stopped to appreciate the view up the ridge to the summit of Creag Leacach we heard those same loud groans again, this time accompanied by some clunking noises.

“October to early November is the peak of the red deer rutting season and the clash of antlers will be heard for miles around as Britain’s largest land animals battle for dominance and for the female herd.”

Sure enough, miles away, down in the valley around the Glas Maol Burn ( or was it the Batheacbeg Burn ? ) we spotted quite a few deer - I’d say there were purehunnersadeer. A stag fight as well, great entertainment.

Glas Maol Burn and Batheacbeg Burn

Glas Maol Burn and Batheacbeg Burn

In the rutting season purehunnersadeer

In the rutting season purehunnersadeer

Enough of that we’ve got a circuit to finish.

We left our rucksacks beside the wall and walked up the faint scree path through the boulder field to the summit of Creag Leacach. The view from the summit was probably the best of the day.

On Creag Leacach

On Creag Leacach

On Creag Leacach  looking back towards Glas Maol

On Creag Leacach  looking back towards Glas Maol

Summit of Creag Leacach

Summit of Creag Leacach

 

Visibility all round was excellent, but there were too many tops in view to list here, even if I could identify them by name.

We retraced our steps down from the summit, picked up our rucksacks and headed for the cairn at Bathach Beag. From the cairn we circled around the western slope of Glas Maol towards the Meall Oder ridge where a path coming down from Glas Maol was met leading us to the top of the ski tow.

There is a good track leading down from the ski area to the A93 road just shy of the Glenshee Ski Centre. Coming down this track I could really feel the load on my old knees and joints. As we passed the ski centre café we were hoping that the other group were in the café to give us a lift the remaining 2.5km back to our cars.

Unfortunately the other party hadn’t reached the café yet so rather than wait for an indefinite period we decided to walk the remaining distance, after all what’s another 2.5km when you’ve just done 20 or so. The good news was that the description in Walkhighlands was accurate it was downhill all the way. As we approached the car park we could see that the shepherd had found his sheep, another happy ending.

Many thanks to the members of the group for their company and for providing some cracking photos of a grand day out.