Munro Two Hundred and Nineteen

Route: Mount Keen by Glen Tanar

Munros: Mount Keen

Date walked: 17/11/2021

Wednesday, 17th. November
My third consecutive day out on the hills brought a cold wind and I could see a thin covering of snow on the upper slopes of Lochnagar as I packed my rucksack in the Glen Muick car park just before 8.00.am. – but, crucially, the skies to the east and the south were clear. Pausing only to put an unnecessary £10 in the non-functioning pay and display machine (surely Brenda and Brian aren’t so short of cash that they can’t provide free parking for their subjects visiting the Balmoral Estate?) I headed off down the track and hung a left up the steep-sided valley of the Allt Darrarie. Half an hour or so took me to the eccentrically named Burn of Mohamed (probably another peculiar and now forgotten legacy of Empire?) and another half hour brought me to the Water of Mark less than 100 metres upstream of the Shielin of Mark, a tight and well-maintained bothy.
Day 3a - Bothy.jpg
The Sheilin of Mark bothy (17.11.2021.)
Day 3b - Bothy and Mt. Keen.jpg
The view to Mt. Keen, more than five miles away to the north east (17.11.2021.)
I left my cooking and sleeping gear in the bothy together with about 12 kilograms of coke (the fuel, obviously) and, soon after 9.00.am., headed off for the day’s main objective – Mount Keen. For what were pretty erroneous reasons, I’d decided to approach this isolated hill from the west over the groughs and hags of the high ground of Fasheilach (721m) and the Head of Black Burn (746m) and, unsurprisingly, it was hard work. There were occasional highlights – lines of shooting butts, innumerable grouse, large numbers of deer and a couple of standing stones, including a very lonely memorial to a former head gamekeeper of the Invermark Estate – but, for the most part, the walk was a desolate and strenuous affair. Fortunately, though, a combination of bare, burnt stretches of heather and the cold overnight temperatures which had frozen the saturated peat made the going less arduous than it might have been – so two and a half hours of relentless plodding saw me climbing the steeper, rocky slopes of the final pyramid to the summit cairn by midday.
Day 3c - Summit of Mt. Keen.jpg
The summit rocks of Mt. Keen (17.11.2021.)
A few thin snow patches and a bitter wind meant that it wasn’t a place in which anyone would have wanted to hang around so I headed off pretty quickly. Not anxious to repeat the bog-trotting of the ascent, I dropped south-west off “Little Hill” to the Water of Mark after a couple of kilometres (which included almost stepping on a white-coated hare) and followed the river system steadily upstream back to the bothy. This provided quicker going than the outward journey and I was back under its eaves for a second lunch early in the afternoon.

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The bothy is looked after very well – clean, swept, provided with card games, etc., etc. – and, in addition to my coke and firelighters, there was already some kindling and some coal by the little fireplace. A fire was, therefore, already burning by the time Colin turned up from Aberdeen (with his neighbour’s dog) just after dusk and we were able to spend a convivial evening swapping yarns around the hearth, not least as he was able to add a number of instant firelogs to the coals which gave off an impressive amount of heat.
Day 3d - Bothy Fireplace.jpg
Bothy fireplace (17.11.2021.)
The long hours of darkness made for some sustained sleeping and, refreshed, Colin was off reasonably early while I hung around for another hour or two, eating some porridge and savouring the quiet before I had to head home. The walk out, though, was easy and a solid cooked breakfast with several mugs of tea in Blairgowrie’s magnificent Dome Restaurant set me up for the ten hour drive south…

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Comments: 1

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Chris Henshall

User avatar
Activity: Stravaiging
Pub: The Clachaig
Mountain: Glaramara
Place: Shenavall
Gear: My Tent
Member: None
Ideal day out: Multi-pitch rock climb at about HVS followed by a scramble to a rocky summit on a sunny day.

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Joined: May 30, 2014
Last visited: Jun 20, 2022
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