The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Brandy, Neat and on the Rocks

Distance: 16.22km
Ascent: 949m
Time: 3hrs 53mins
Hills: The Snub, Green Hill (870m), The Goet (896m, Corbett)
Weather: Bright sunshine, very strong, chilling wind
Route: View on OS Maps

Glen Clova seems to be the perfect destination for an afternoon walk. I climbed Mayar and Dreish late one May evening and on Sunday chose to use a free and unexpectedly sunny afternoon to visit the summit of The Goet/Ben Tirran, a 798m high Corbett on the north side of the glen.

After leaving Aberdeen in glorious sunshine at 1pm, I drove down through increasing cloud and then heavy rain. Luckily there weren’t too many Sunday drivers around so I was at the public car park across the bridge from the Glen Clova hotel at a little after 2:15pm and away up the hill just a few minutes later. At first it looked as I though I was going to get a swift drenching but luckily I only caught the very edge of a heavy storm that moved down the glen and out towards the sea.

The Laird's Chamber

An excellent path leads away from the hotel car park and up through the lodges to the open hillside. Height is gained rapidly and soon the views were opening out around me with broad Glen Clova running away behind me to the south-east, and in front the first signs of the hills that surround Loch Brandy. Over to the west were the line of hills that march up towards Dreish.

Hills above Glen Clova

Looking east down Glen Clova

Approaching Loch Brandy

After I passed a couple sat by the path soaking up the views the gradient levelled off and I enjoyed the final stretch up to the lip of Loch Brandy. Here I was immediately struck by the very strong wind which was being funnelled by the slopes of the hills. From here my chosen route took me into the face of the wind and an ascent of the steep nose of The Snub which rises up to the west of the loch.

The Corrie of Clova

Loch Brandy

The Snub

Again, the steep gradient gained me height quickly and I soon overtook a couple who were toiling their way to the top. The ground is fairly eroded and the buffetting wind nearly knocked me over a couple of times so it was a relief to get towards the summit where bizarrely the wind dropped off and I was able to comfortably walk across to the fairly substantial summit cairn.

Cornice and lingering snow

Loch Brandy

From here the views were fantastic, looking west towards a still snowy Lochnagar, Mount Keen in front, and to the east the long line of hills marching towards Ben Tirran. Equally the view down to the shimmering surface of Loch Brandy was superb, the afternoon sunshine lighting up wonderful textures, colours and patterns. I stopped to munch on a sandwich (very late lunch!) and enjoy a much needed break from the wind.

First view of Lochnagar

Summit of The Snub

Loch Brandy

From here I followed the rim of the cliffs around towards Green Hill, enjoying the amazing views down to the loch and further south to the Perthshire Hills. Once away from the Snub the wind picked up again and I had to draw my hood close around my hood to give my exposed cheeks some protection - the wind chill was incredible.

Storm clouds over Glen Clova

Loch Brandy

Glen Clova

A path came and went as I followed the line of the cliffs but at some point I found it was turning away to drop back down to Loch Brandy so I left it and made straight for the small cairn on the summit of Green Hill. As I climbed higher again the views back to Lochnagar and the Mounth Hills were brilliant below constantly shifting skies.

Loch Brandy from Green Hill

Towards Green Hill


Summit of Green Hill

Green Hill gives great panoramic views over Angus, Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, but with the wind whipping incessantly at my back I didn't hang around long. Instead I continued following the broad, undulating ridge eastward towards the now more obvious outline of The Goet. The land in between the two hills is very boggy and the only firm ground was where the snow was still lying. Eventually though I made it across the worst and picked up a track leading towards the summit of the day's highest hill. Unfortunately I missed the chance for a view down to Loch Wharral from the cliffs - something to do on a return visit.

Southeast from Green Hill

Lochnagar from Green Hill

Glen Clova from Green Hill

The Goet

The final climb up to the trig point on the summit of the Goet was soon over and I welcomed the sight of a solid wind shelter behind which I could eat another sandwich whilst gazing out across Aberdeenshire to a hazy sea. It was great to have this summit to myself, the only sound the wind, and unbroken views in all directions.

Track up The Goet

The Angus and Mounth Hills

Trig point on The Goet

Mt Keen and Braid Cairn

I was a bit unsure of the best way to head back to the Glen Clova Hotel but eventually decided to drop down and visit Loch Wharral before making my way back, either by the road or along the hillside. I dropped down to the smaller summit of Ben Tirran and then followed a faint track towards the loch. The crags above Wharral are impressive, with a couple of waterfalls tumbling down them. I left the track and heather-bashed my way to the shore, disturbing several large winter-coated hares which skipped away through the undergrowth.

Loch Wharral from Ben Tirran

Loch Wharral

Loch Wharral

At the shore of the loch I found a faint track and followed this around until I reached the outflow. This was flowing swiftly and almost dissuaded me from following the hillside back to the car, but eventually I picked out a good spot and got across without dipping my toes in the water. I then followed a track that contoured around below the Shank of Catstae, eventually meeting up with a boggy track running down towards Rough Craig.

Loch Wharral

Loch Wharral and the Crags

Glen Clova from Loch Wharral

Rather than doing 3km on the road, I instead continued contouring around the hillside, heading back towards Loch Brandy. The going was reasonable with some boggy bits and couple of burns to negotiate. Eventually I climbed up out the Corrie of Inchdowrie and crossed the final rough ground to pick up the track which drops down from Green Hill on the east side of Loch Brandy.

Blue skies over Green Hill

Burn in the Corrie of Inchdowrie

Loch Brandy

I then had a relaxed descent, pausing first to check out the much calmer Loch Brandy, and then dropping down on the path I had climbed up, until I was back at the hotel and the car.

The Snub and Loch Brandy

Loch Brandy

Look back to Loch Brandy hills

The path to Glen Clova