Sunday the 12th January 2020. A break in what was a week of high winds, cancelled ferries and flooding for many parts of Scotland. The drive up to Glen Clova was dreich and rainy (as was forecasted by the MWIS) so I was not filled with confidence despite the forecast on BBC predicting clear skies.
I set off from the car park at 10AM and began the initial part of the walk up to Loch Brandy allowed for what would be the last overhead cloud to blow over, giving the hills on the other side of the Glen a light dusting of snow. Going by the MWIS forecast of temperatures feeling like -20 in the wind I layered myself up but quickly found myself taking layers off as I was cooking on the way up to the loch. I spoke to a few people on the way up, a group of guys one of whom was wearing nothing but a tracksuit and lightweight running shoes...I couldn't bear to think how uncomfortable he must have been with them on heading up the path. Also spoke to a couple of guys who were on a work outing up the hill, one of whom shared some tips on how to best predict the weather when planning a walk, something I will definitely take into account on my next walk up Driesh and Mayar with Gill. After about 45 minutes Loch Brandy was reached where I stopped for half of my sandwich (a ploughman's) and some water.
A dusting of snow across the glen
From the eye of Loch Brandy I set of up the Snub and after about 15/20 minute had reached the top where I was greeted with amazing views in every direction. Any lingering cloud had disappeared and the sky was crisp and clear giving great views of Lochnagar, Mount Keen and Glen Clova.
Some rock art hallway up the Snub
Loch Brandy from above
From the top of the snub I walked around the top of the Craigs of Loch Brandy up Green Hill which has an elevation of 870 metres where I stopped to finish my sandwich and the rest of my lunch. The walk to here from the Snub is little more than a stroll with no real gradients. A few rivers lie in the way but they were frozen solid making the fording of them much easier. It was at the top of Green Hill where the wind was at its fiercest and the wind chill made it easily -7 or -8 degrees.
From Green Hill it was onwards to Ben Tirran. About 50 metres or so south east of the summit of Green Hill a fairly new fence stands (which is not on my most recent edition OS map). The fence has points at which it can be scaled so there was no problem with it. I followed the fence to the top of Ben Tirran, diverting from its course only when the ground was too boggy or when it passed through the appropriately named Stony Loch. From Stony Loch it was a 15 minute or so walk to the summit.
Atop the summit
Montrose Basin from the summit
Having had my lunch earlier in the day I didn't stay long at the summit of Ben Tirran. As time and light was not on my side I decided to make a diagonal down to the small private bothy at Loch Wharral and from there, diagonally down to the Glen Clova hotel. I may have underestimated the steepness of the hillside so the descent, through bog and heather, was quite strenuous and used up the last energy I had left in me. Eventually the Glen Clova Hotel was in sight and 6 hours after setting off I was back at the car. A great walk from start to finish. Roll on the next one!
Bothy at Loch Wharral
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.