Up until 65-years-ago, anyone venturing out of Dundee to breath in the fresh Angus air and enjoy a pleasant wander around Dronley Wood, in the shadow of the Sidlaw Hills, could have done so by train. The hamlet of Dronley, a stone’s throw from the plantation, was a stop on the Dundee to Newtyle Railway. After almost a century of service, the station closed in 1955 but visitors can still call here, the former goods yard now a car park and my starting point for a short loop around the forest. Read more…
After devoting the summer of 2012 to the Angus Glens, I spent much of this year exploring the county’s shoreline, hiking the coastal path between Broughty Ferry and Montrose and discovering some real gems along the way. The fruits of these labours have now come to fruition in the publication of Angus Coastal Trail.
The linear route is 68km in length, although there are plenty of detours and distractions as the trail progresses north.
From the Firth of Tay, the mouth of Scotland’s longest river, sandy beaches, backed by a gently rolling grassy hinterland, give way to more rugged and dramatic scenery.
Beyond Arbroath, spectacular cliffs, interspersed with craggy coves, secret caves and unique geological features, rise from the insistent ebb and flow of the tide. Beyond the cliff top village of Auchmithie, the coastline reaches its highest point at Red Head, a towering sandstone promontory.
The terrain softens again, the forgotten hamlets of Ethie Haven and Corbie Knowe lying at the southern end of Lunan Bay, a sweep of golden sand. However, a more exposed and inhospitable stretch of shoreline leads round the coast to Scurdie Ness lighthouse, standing guard over the entrance to the county’s busiest port, Montrose.
The trail can either be walked in its entirety or the various sections can be undertaken as day walks.
Fully illustrated, Angus Coastal Trail includes clear mapping and a wealth of background history, geography and wildlife information, plus practical advice on accommodation, public transport and places to eat.
The book is currently available from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle apps. Click here. However a paperback is on its way soon…
After years of sterling service my trusty Phoenix Phlighter backpacking tent has finally given up the ghost. Patched and re-patched (there are patches over the patches!), the time had come to accept that retiral was long overdue. So, with the Phoenix put out to pasture and unlikely to rise from its ashes, I scouted about for a replacement. I wanted something inexpensive to tide me over the summer and opted to give the Hi Gear Soloista a go. At just £19.99 from Go Outdoors it made but a small dent in my gear budget. Read more…
The summer of 2012 dispensed some of the most unpredictable – and wettest – weather I have encountered for a long time in Scotland. Despite this I managed to achieve a long term personal goal – to produce a book of walks covering the Angus Glens, my favourite part of the country.
Living in Dundee, the glens are on my doorsteps. I began walking there as a child, both with family and through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and have an enduring passion for the area. Over the years I have explored the hills and glens in all seasons and never fail to be inspired by the varied scenery and rich heritage of the landscape.
Hill and valley walks abound and a clutch of mountains, including several Munros, provide more challenging excursions for those seeking high ground and some of the best views in eastern Scotland. While the Munros are well known, I hope this book will introduce walkers to many lesser but equally satisfying peaks.
After many days wandering the mountains and valleys with notepad and camera in hand and countless hours tapping away at the computer keyboard with a ready supply of coffee close by, the end result is now at hand – Walking in the Angus Glens was published by Cicerone in June. The book covers the five main glens – Isla, Prosen, Clova, Lethnot and Esk – and contains 30 routes ranging from mountain ascents to linear hikes following the ancient Mounth highways linking Angus and Aberdeenshire. Lots of info on the book, including a sample route, can be found here.
Glen Doll has long been bereft of a campsite. There used to be one adjacent to the car park but, thanks to some rather rowdy campers and a few too many boozy parties, it closed down (quite a number of years ago now). However, in a bid to fill the void left by its departure, the local ranger service has designated three short stay wild camping sites. They are located in Glendoll Forest adjacent to Jock’s Road (NO 252766), in a former quarry above Acharn (NO 280764) and by the River South Esk south of Moulzie (NO 285768). With no road access, all require a walk in.
What a difference a decade makes. Today, I hiked up the Firmounth Road from Tarfside in Glen Esk en route to the summit of Hill of Cat. I did a similar walk in 2002 and, as I set out from the car park, I had happy memories of walking the old road all those years ago.
However, above the renovated lodge at Shinfur, I quickly discovered that over recent years the original hill track – a long established right of way linking Tarfside in Angus with Dinnet in Deeside – has been replaced by a much more robust estate road, one of many on the Millden Estate constructed to service numerous lines of grouse butts.
It wasn’t particularly pleasant underfoot, but did make short work of the ascent to the top of Tampie where, as part of the estate’s ongoing drive to upgrade its grouse moors, a line of butts was in the process of being rebuilt.
The ‘upgraded’ Firmounth Road lifted me up and over Tampie and as I progressed towards the next peak, Gannoch, it became apparent that the redevelopment was not yet complete. Ahead of me, at the end of the newest section of track, sat a mechanical excavator – poised to carve up even more of the original route.
It is a great pity that the old Firmounth has been bulldozed out in such a fashion. Gone is a wonderful old hill track. In its original state, it was an integral part of the landscape. Weathered and overgrown, the heathery highway lay hidden amongst the hills. Now, sadly, it is an all too obvious scar of grit and gravel.
For more on the Firmounth Road, visit Heritage Paths.
As a follow up to an earlier post (scroll down to find it!) about animal traps in the Scottish countryside, I came across three traps containing dead animals on my wanderings in the Angus hills today.
The first contained a freshly snared stoat, killed as it scampered through a fen trap slung over a stream close to the Firmounth/Fungle Road in Glen Esk, on the Millden Estate. It is one of the few occasions I have spotted a stoat in the great outdoors – just a pity it was in such circumstances.
The second was a rat, again captured in a fen trap, this one positioned over the Burn of Cat, across the valley.
The use of these fen traps is legal as a means of controlling vermin, including both rats and stoats.
The third trapped creature was a very dead (skeletal in fact) bird lying in the base of what appeared to be a disused Larsen trap, again located close to the Burn of Cat.
For more on animal and bird traps used in the countryside, visit Onekind’s excellent walkers’ guide.
Update Another day on the hills and another grim find in a fen trap, this time a stoat caught in a stream gully between Dog Hillock and Hill of Glansie.
Enjoyed a snowy March day on Corwharn, a small hill accessible from the Backwater Reservoir (pictured, right) in Angus. A full report on the day out will follow soon, but in the meantime here are a few photos. View the photos…
The Victorians first put Reekie Linn on the tourist map and it has remained a firm favourite with visitors to Angus ever since. One of Scotland’s most spectacular waterfalls, it cascades through a deep tree-lined canyon, throwing up a smoky mist of spray. A well-walked path follows the north bank of the River Isla to an exposed cliff-top viewpoint. However, for those with a sense of adventure and a head for heights, there is another, virtually unknown trail on the south side of the water. Read more…
Of the Angus Glens, it is fair to say that Glen Lethnot is the least frequented. The single-track road in does not actively encourage visitors. As it winds deeper into the valley it becomes narrower, more potted and increasingly less inviting. But despite the potholes and clunky cattle grids that jolt suspension springs into life, the journey is worth making for it reveals an isolated, some may say desolate, landscape of rolling hills, grassy slopes and heather moor. Apart from the occasional cottage and a grand pink hunting lodge, signs of life are few and far between and herein lies its charms. Read more…