Walking in the Angus Glens

Angus Glens coverThe 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.

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

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.

From waste to wildflowers

Invergowrie Bay

It is all too easy to miss great walking opportunities right on your doorstep. The other day I was dropping some rubbish off at the local civic amenity site where, by chance, I stumbled upon a relatively new path network right next door.

The Riverside Nature Park has been created on top of what was for many years Dundee’s main landfill site. Now full to the brim, the city’s waste has been covered in a generous layer of topsoil and replanted. The result is a square mile of grassy meadow and young woodland located alongside the estuary of the River Tay.

To enable exploration, paths have been created, there is a viewpoint at the top and a bird hide has been constructed overlooking the mudflats of Invergowrie Bay. A car park is located on the southern edge of the park, reached from Riverside Drive via Wright Avenue.

Riverside Nature Park

After disposing of my waste, I donned my boots and set off, spending a good hour or so exploring the area. The longest stretch of path runs from the car park up to the bird hide by the bay. Returning, I had the option of heading over the top of the mound – where the viewpoint is located – or following a path that runs between North Meadow and open fields usually occupied by Highland cows. Here there is a small pond where two swans were in residence.

Continuing east, various paths skirt round fields and patches of woodland, emerging either into the car park or on to Wright Avenue, close to its junction with Riverside Drive.

The landfill site opened in 1967 as part of ongoing efforts to reclaim ground from the Tay Estuary (nearby Dundee Airport is built on artificially created land). The site closed in 1996 and has since been the subject of extensive landscaping. The meadows have been planted with an array of wildflowers and there are various patches and strips of native woodland.

Swans on the pond

One of the highlights is the opportunity to spot wading birds on the adjacent mudflats. Geese are regular visitors while other species you may see include lapwing, shelducks, oystercatchers and curlews. The Tay Estuary is also home to white-tailed sea eagles, which were released over the water in Tentsmuir Forest as part of an ongoing reintroduction scheme. Mammals which frequent Invergowrie Bay include otters.

For more information click here to open a copy of the park information leaflet (with map) in pdf format.

 

Lochs and Reservoirs – little gems in the landscape

My latest ‘big project’ is a book of 30 loch and reservoir walks in Scotland for Sigma Press and along the way I have discovered some real gems, places I had never visited before but wish I had found much earlier. Here are some of my favourites to date with external links to sites offering more info…

Birnie & Gaddon Lochs, Collessie, Fife – It is hard to believe that Birnie & Gaddon Lochs were once part of an industrial site. For many years this was a quarry from which sand and gravel were extracted. When quarrying finished in the late 1980s, two small lochs were created and the area was replanted with native saplings. Now it is a haven for birds and wildlife. Click here for more info.

Harlaw Reservoir, near Edinburgh – One of the many reservoirs nestling in the folds of the Pentland Hills, there is a good path looping round Harlaw and a wee visitor centre at the start. Click here for more info on this easy to access spot close to the nation’s capital city.

Lochan Spling, Aberfoyle – Lochside trails abound in the Trossachs and a real gem to be found lurking amidst the trees of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park is Lochan Spling. Accessed from the popular tourist town of Aberfoyle, a track loops around the water and there is plenty of interest to see along the way, including some fascinating wildlife sculptures. Click here for more info.

Uath Lochans, Kincraig – Four small pools of tranquil water located deep in Inshriach Forest form the Uath Lochans, one of the most scenic spots in Strathspey. Carved out during the Ice Age, the captivating marshy pools lie in the shadow of Farleitter Crag, a dramatic escarpment of rough rock rising high above the canopy of ancient pine and tall fir trees. Click here for more info.

Gartmorn Dam, Alloa – Gartmorn Dam’s natural beauty belies its industrial past. The reservoir was created in 1713 as a source of power for water-driven pumps designed to combat flooding in local coalmines. At the time it was the largest artificial body of water in Scotland. Today, clues to this industrial past can be found around the reservoir. Click here for more info.

The book is due for completion by the end of the year and should hopefully hit the shops sometime in 2012. After all the walking it is now time to site down and do the write-ups. Will keep you posted!

Glorious Good Friday on Rannoch Moor

I could not resist the lure of Rannoch Moor once again and, setting off to walk the Road to the Isles from Corrour Station to Rannoch Station, I was rewarded with an excellent day, dry with hazy sunshine and a cooling breeze. After driving to Rannoch Station, I boarded the 11.08am train for the short journey north to Corrour. The carriages were packed with walkers, the majority of whom spilled out on to the platform when we arrived at Corrour. Read more…

Tentsmuir Sea Eagle Walk

The return of the sea eagle – or white-tailed eagle – to Scotland is one of the great conservation success stories. The last native bird was shot on Shetland in 1918 but in the 1970s the raptor was reintroduced and experts estimate there are now 200, most roosting in the isolated western isles. Thanks to ongoing work, Britain’s largest bird of prey is now soaring over east coast waters too. Read more…

Peat Path to Fitness

Nestling in the hills above Loch Ness, Abriachan is a scattered rural community. In 1998, villagers bought 500 hectares of land from Forest Enterprise and embarked upon an ambitious project to enhance the local environment, create new jobs and attract more visitors to the area through the creation of a path network, mountain bike routes and other facilities. One of the more unusual trails to emerge from this was the Peat Path to Fitness. Read more…

Beaten by the Moor

My bid to cross Rannoch Moor on foot did not quite go according to plan. Setting off from Bridge of Orchy, I intended to follow the West Highland Way via Inveroran to King’s House.

After a night there, I planned to take the track to Black Corries Lodge and then continue to Rannoch Station via Loch Laidon. The final leg of my journey was to follow the Road to the Isles to Corrour Station from where I would catch the train back to Bridge of Orchy.

Despite heavy rain and lashing winds, and an overwhelming urge to call the whole thing quits at Inveroran, I made it, albeit saturated, to King’s House where I spent a very pleasant night. Read more…

Re-discovering Reekie Linn

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…