Date: 3rd May 2009
Distance: 9.3 miles
Time: 3hrs 10mins
Munros: Mayar, Dreish
Route: View on OS Maps
After a Cairngorm's epic on Saturday I wanted something more civilised on Sunday. After a lazy morning, a trip into town to buy a pair of sunglasses (replacing a set left in Venice last August â€“ Scotland isn't overly sunny!) and refuelling the car I left Aberdeen at around 1pm to arrive at the car park in Glen Doll at 2:30pm. The drive had been good until the narrow road through Glen Clova where I trundled along behind a Sunday driver who also headed all the way to the car park. Be warned there are some serious potholes just after coming through Braedownie - take it very slowly!
The car park was bustling, people clearly enjoying the sunshine in this wonderfully scenic part of the world. I paid my £1.50, booted up (lightweight cross-trail today given the promised quality of paths) and was soon on the track to Corrie Fee (in the classic anti-SMC approach). For a low level walk in stunning scenery this route is highly recommended.
The burn tumbles and falls beside you, the birds flit from branch to branch and there were plenty of people out, families and groups of walkers. However, as I passed the deer fence into Corrie Fee the people disappeared and I was left gazing into this monumental piece of natural architecture all on my own. The path heads down to the Corrie floor but I sat in the sunshine gazing all around at the view - surely one of the grandest on this side of the country and getting towards Glencoe like proportions.
There is an excellent path across the Corrie floor which then rapidly climbs up past numerous waterfalls and views onto the crags. Out of the wind it was warm but twenty minutes or so got me to the lip of the Corrie where a ramping, boggy track leads up to the summit of Mayar.
Out of the protection of the Corrie I was plunged straight into a bitterly cold snow shower which thankfully passed through as I reached the cairn.
From the summit there were magnificent views all around, from the rounded southern side of Lochnagar, the Glenshee Hills, Beinn a' Ghlo, and south across the Backwater Reservoir to a distant, towering Ben Lawers. Out east the coastal strip was green and lush and beyond it the blue strip of the North Sea was bathed in sunshine. For a hill that doesn't take much effort to climb, it has a rewarding view.
As squally snow showers passed all around I descended from Mayar, following the clear track along the plateau towards Dreish. The track follows the course of a fence and offers views across Glendoll with magnificent panoramas east where the sunshine was lingering over Angus.
Behind me Mayar was briefly engulfed in a shower but gradually became clear. As I crossed the headwall of Glendoll I spotted a Ptarmigan on the rocks. From here there a couple of choices. The broader track keeps to the flat crest of the ridge up towards Dreish, whilst a narrower track traverses the coire headwall and is a bit more sporting. I chose the latter.
From here there is a gentle drop and then a final easy climb up to the summit of Dreish, passing a couple of cairns on the way. There was now fantastic moody light back to the west.
The summit of Dreish is a wider, flatter area than that of Mayar and offers less spectacular views, but there were still hills and mountains stretching off in all directions.
In the distance there were still showers rolling over Lochnagar.
A vague plan had been to descend by the Scorrie of Dreish but in the end I decided the take the tourist path and returned by way of the bealach and the fabulously named Shanks of Drumfallow Path.
This path which eventually turns into the Kilbo Path is fantastically engineered and runs down the length of the coire, gradually dropping to the tree line. The views back onto Little Dreish and the head of the coire were great in the early evening sunshine.
The path through the forest was a delight, crossing numerous small burns and eventually returning to the well trodden route back to the car park, reaching it just before 6pm. Here I once again ran into people. It had been quite amazing that on two such popular hills in decent weather I hadn't seen a single person. Clearly starting a Munro at 3pm is not the done thing!
The drive back in the evening sunshine was quite splendid and I was back in Aberdeen in time for a late supper.