Above Glen Clova – [# 118 & 119]

Mayar (928m); Driesh (947m)

  • Pronunciation:              Mayer; Dreesh
  • Translation:                   High Plain; Bramble
  • Total distance:              14.8km
  • Total time:                     4hrs 12mins
  • Total ascent:                 953m
  • Weather:                        Beautiful blue skies and sunny all day. Warm on the lower slopes, but a very cooling and strong wind was blowing over the summits.
  • Start / end location:   The Forestry Commission car-park at the head of Glen Clova. [OS Map Sheet 44 – Grid Ref: NO 284 761]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

The waterfall at the back of Coire Fee

Mayar and Driesh are two Munros located at the head of Glen Clova: a long glen only accessible by driving quite a bit to the south of our present location near the Spittal of Glenshee. The glen is many miles long starting just to the north of the small town of Kirriemuir in the district of Angus and its initial lower portion reflects the low rolling hills of the immediate surrounding area with very fertile looking arable pastures. Much further to the north the hills began to morph into mountains, which eventually funnel the glen into a narrow steep sided valley filled with lovely mature conifer woodlands.

Leaving the Glendoll Forest to enter Coire Fee

Looking WSW into Coire Fee

We parked in the Forestry Commission car-park right at the head of the glen, as far as public vehicle access would allow. (A not unreasonable £2 is charged for parking for conservation purposes). From the car-park we took the forestry road west into the start of Glen Doll, following “Jock’s Road” – an ancient drovers’ track that connects through to Braemar many miles away to the northwest. After only around 2km we left Jock’s Road and crossed the White Water (river) and then headed through the conifer plantation in a WSW direction towards Coire Fee. Soon the plantation gave way to open ground in the corrie basin: and it was absolutely magnificent. We were surrounded on three sides by high steep-sided cliffs that resulted in an amphitheatre of rock. Right in the middle of this amphitheatre was a foaming white waterfall – the Fee Burn – plunging downward in a series cascading tiers. In the bright sunshine it was all very reminiscent of our travels through the Italian Dolomites.

The path through the corrie was brilliantly constructed and the walking always straightforward, but the location gave the real sense of entering and climbing in a true mountain environment.

Looking NW into Coire Fee

Cameron at the summit cairn of Mayar

Once we climbed over the rim of Coire Fee the landscape changed dramatically back to the rolling moorland typical of many of these south eastern hills – such as those that we had recently climbed in the Atholl Estate. We turned due south and in only a kilometre had reached the summit of Mayar at 928m or 3,045ft.

To reach our next objective we headed east and dropped to a broad col before skirting round the top of a corrie with the Shank of Drumwhallo on one side and the peak of Little Driesh on the other. Once round this we climbed gently up a slope to the north of Little Driesh before reaching a col only a few tens of metres below and to the west of the summit of Driesh. A simple final 500m of easy walking took us to the summit cairn surrounding a Trig Point at 947m or 3,107ft. The wind by this stage had really picked up and was very cooling so we took shelter in the lee of the cairn and ate our lunch.

Elaine on the Trig Point at the summit of Driesh

Our route of descent retraced our steps to the previous col before we turned NNE and followed the Kilbo Path downward, which took a course just below the crest-line of the Shank of Drumfollow ridge. Soon we entered the Glendoll Forest and a further series of paths took us to a bridge over the White Water. A short stroll east then took us back to the car-park.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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