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Three in Glen Isla

Three in Glen Isla

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:07 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Badandun Hill, Mealna Letter or Duchray Hill, Mount Blair

Date walked: 24/04/2016

Time taken: 15.5 hours

Distance: 49 km

Ascent: 2224m

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As Allison's rehabilitation continues, we reckoned she might manage some gentler eastern hills, preferably with tracks. Glen Isla seemed a suitable candidate for the weekend - three Grahams all nestled in close to one another, nothing too steep involved. Also, various permutations about how they could be climbed. I found an excellent campsite nearby - http://www.ecocampglenshee.co.uk/ which promised llamas and all sorts of luxuries for £10 pppn. Managed to take some time back from work and get away early enough on Friday to arrive by tea time. We pitched in beside the pods (no-one staying in them over the weekend) and had our meal. Spoke to Simon who runs the site, and who recommended going up Mount Blair from the south, rather than the north approach generally favoured. I reckoned we had enough time to get up and back on Friday evening, in the late sunshine. So we set off.

Mount Blair
ImageP1120897 by Al, on Flickr

blairs.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I decided to try one of my infamous "short cuts" to get started, rather than following Simon's instructions about walking along the road til coming to a small pool...this ended up in a traipse over a boggy field with electric fences and an ignominious return to the road to go along the way we'd been advised in the first place. The route turns up through some cottages/farm buildings to Boreland, passing a house with a waterwheel and some cute black lambs with white socks and noses who were intent on investigating our progress. Up a farm track past a limekiln and some bemused cows and onto the hillside. Views were good as we climbed - we could make out the Lawers range and beyond that away to Ben Mor/Stob Binnien. We skirted to the right of Coire Goibhre where the going became a little boggy, then headed up over heather to a stone wall. On the east side of the wall was a clear path which made going easier and we followed this to the well decorated summit - a trig point, prehistoric cairn, circular view indicator (recently restored) as well as the transmitter mast which permits identification of Mount Blair for miles around. We enjoyed the low sunlight striking the snow on the Glenshee hills before turning and following our path down, staying closer to the fence as we went down Over Craig to avoid the marsh. The setting sun burnished the bellies of the few clouds as it sank. A bit chillier in the afterglow we hastened back to the warmth of the tent Allison stopping to pet the lambs when we walked by. And the donkeys. And the llamas :roll:

ImageP1120900 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120901 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120902 by Al, on Flickr

View down to the Ecocamp
ImageP1120903 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120906 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120909 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120912 by Al, on Flickr

View Indicator
ImageP1120914 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120916 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120918 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120919 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120920 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120921 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120922 by Al, on Flickr

inside the bothy
ImageP1120923 by Al, on Flickr

badandun.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

After a really chilly night we woke to find the day overcast and cold. I'd decided we'd tackle Badandun Hill today, alomg with some SIMMs to the north of it. I wasn't entirely sure of the final route, having planned to come off the ridge after Craigie Thieves but noting the way might be impeded by forest plantations. Anyway, we set off and parked just where the road splits at Little Forter and walked across Bridge of Forter (which has its very own letterbox) and through a gate to the left of the bridge. This was wrong - we wanted the Cateran Trail path which meant crossing a squelchy tussocky bit of ground and joining the path somewhat higher up. I could see snow and hail coming down from the north as it did episodically throughout the entire day. We followed the track up by the Knaps and along the side of Badandun Hill, gradually rising until we were at the 740m summit. Right on cue the weather closed in and a vicious hailstorm set about us, carried on icy air from the Cairngorm Massif. We didn't hang about long up there, continuing along the track in a northernly direction, heading for Bodnasparet, what used to be known as a Graham Top, but now renamed a SIMM. We paused for lunch before tackling this beast, I was annoyed at having left my thermos in the car - a hot coffee would have been very welcome.

Saturday morning
ImageP1120925 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120926 by Al, on Flickr

Wall letterbox
ImageP1120927 by Al, on Flickr

Looking north - Badandun hill on the left
ImageP1120931 by Al, on Flickr

Good track
ImageP1120932 by Al, on Flickr

Mount Blair
ImageP1120933 by Al, on Flickr

View South
ImageP1120934 by Al, on Flickr

Summit - cue hail
ImageP1120936 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120937 by Al, on Flickr

We left the track and followed a wall line close to the top of Bodnasparet. Over to our left rose Craig Lair - a mere sub-simm so not worth the effort :lol: We rejoined the path and headed to Mid Hill which had the unusual feature of a number of paving slabs laid out. Home made helipad? Patio?? Your guess as good as mine. Up ahead loomed Mayar and Driesh - on another day I might have been tempted to pay a visit to at least Mayar....however this was rehab. We continued on the track to Bawhelps, the highest point of the day at 830m...not quite what one expects when setting out to do Grahams.

View to North side of Badandun
ImageP1120939 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Bodnasparet to Bawhelps
ImageP1120940 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Mid Hill
ImageP1120941 by Al, on Flickr

Paving Slabs - Mid Hill
ImageP1120942 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120943 by Al, on Flickr

Mayar & Driesh
ImageP1120944 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Bawhelps
ImageP1120947 by Al, on Flickr

It was decision time - I'd been looking at the walk over to Craigie Thieves and the routes back from it and decided that it would be preferable for my companion to cut that particular Simm out and return to Mid Hill, which had a nice track descending to Dalhally, from whence we could walk along beside the River Isla and back to the car. This proved a good choice as the going underfoot was good. We had to skirt round to the south of the cottage at Dalhally and through an opening in the fence, avoiging the way through the grounds of the cottage, marked "private" - a wee sign would have been appreciated. Over to our right, as we joined the river, the snow-lined peaks of Creag Leathaid and Glas Maol impressed. We picked up another good track alongside the river and trotted back about 5km to the car.

Descent route
ImageP1120948 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120950 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120955 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120957 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120958 by Al, on Flickr

It was a sunny but cold evening, which we passed in the bothy with the log burner on for a while then headed for bed. One drawback of the Ecocamp is that the various animals make a hell of a racket...the hens began crowing at just after 5am - the largest cockerel making the biggest noise, but echoed a couple of octaves higher by a very small, but plucky, cockerel. Sun was up and it looked a good weather day, though still cold.

Saturday Night - Mount Blair
ImageDSC00204 by Al, on Flickr

duchray.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We packed up and drove back towards Forter, parking just after the Welcome to Angus sign to take on today's challenge - Duchray Hill (also called Mealna Letter...why it has two names is unclear to me). We walked through the gate and along the east side of the trees, over swampy ground, although this improved as we started to climb up the gentle slopes of Cairn Derig. Good views behing us of Mount Blair. We followed the wall up to the summit and stepped over the wire to the cairn, which is not at the highest point. It was icy away from the shelter of the wall, as the wind was still coming directly over the Cairngorms to hit us. Below us Loch Beanie gleamed - I thought it might be quite nice to walk past it and return by the Cateran Trail, rather than down the east of the hills as I had originally intended.

Start of walk - up Cairn Derig
ImageDSC00206 by Al, on Flickr

Mt Blair
ImageDSC00207 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Duchray Hill looking NW
ImageDSC00210 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Beanie in view
ImageDSC00212 by Al, on Flickr

We dropped down the northern side of the hill, by Ewe Crags with the intention of taking in the top of Creagan Caise Hill, another Simm. This involved an initially steep descent then some boggier terrain following the fence line. We parked our bums in a sheltered spot for lunch, then headed across the Beanie burn and up the gently sloping hillside. To our left rose Monamenach, with its southern outlier Craigenloch Hill nearer us. Views up to the southern coire of Glas Maol dominated the skyline. We made the summit then headed back down for Loch Beanie - not as boggy as it might have been, though still soggy in places.

Creagan Caise to the right, Monamenach to the left
ImageDSC00213 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Beanie
ImageDSC00214 by Al, on Flickr

Looking back on Ewe Crags
ImageDSC00216 by Al, on Flickr

Heading up Creagan Caise, Duchray behind
ImageDSC00218 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00219 by Al, on Flickr

To Glas Maol
ImageDSC00221 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00223 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Beanie
ImageDSC00226 by Al, on Flickr

We walked along the side of the loch towards the boathouse passing a cairn - maybe a burial spot? replete with funereal decorations. The path took us on, across and along the north side of the Allt Mor. We could see the Glenshee Outdoor centre ahead and somehow lost the trail, coming up against a multitude of fences. The simplest plan, to cross the river and head south to join the Cateran Trail, was impeded by several deer fences, so we stuck it out heading through Inverreddie Farm, past a large memorial cross on a hillock before joining the Cateran Trail properly. Lapwings flurried and called, chasing the crows. The path took us alongside the Shee Water eventually past the architectural whimsy of Dalnaglar Castle (available for rental for your high society wedding) and back to the B951 and our waiting car.

ImageDSC00227 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00228 by Al, on Flickr

Memorial Cross
ImageDSC00230 by Al, on Flickr

Dalnaglar Castle
ImageDSC00231 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00232 by Al, on Flickr

So not the quickest way to do these 3 hills - Malky's route manages all 3 in a mere 18km and 4.2 hours while we took 50km and 15 hours, but we did get some interesting scenery and of course, a few more Simms :lol:
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