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Issue 51 - 10 Best Summer Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 51
June 2010

 

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10 Best Summer Walks

Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail Arran’s mountains are among my favourites and to ascend Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail from Glen Rosa is almost as good as it gets where hill-walking is concerned. From the small camp site at Glen Rosa an excellent track leads north-west deep into the glen where a gradual ascent through this magnificent natural amphitheatre climbs towards the base of Cir Mhor. A steep path then zigzags to the col inbetween A-Chir and Cir Mhor and then onto Cir Mhor’s compact summit. The views here are astonishing, particularly of Arran’s other fine mountains but on a clear day they can extend to Ireland and north to Ben Nevis. An excellent path then descends north and hugs the ridge as it climbs to Caisteal Abhail. Again the views are superb especially that of Cir Mhor. To descend, retrace your steps back to the col, follow the steep path back into Glen Rosa and enjoy the walk back to the campsite.

OS Landranger Map 69 Start/Finish GR NS001376 Culter Fell With the long days of summer upon us (and hopefully some warm sunshine), it is an ideal time to spend walking, particularly Scotland’s hills. Some of South Lanarkshire’s best hillwalking is in and around Culter Fell which rises to almost 2500 feet above the small village of Coulter. Starting near to Culter Allers Farm walk along the private road south beside the Culter Water and on reaching a path at Kings Beck leave the road and climb a path south-east up the steep flanks of Fell Shin all the way to the summit of Culter Fell which provides a magnificent viewpoint across to Tinto Hill and the Clyde Valley as well as the fine hills and mountains of Galloway and the Borders. A good descent south takes you over Moss Law to pick up a track above Culter Reservoir. Follow the path around the reservoir to Culter Waterhead and follow the minor road north through some lovely scenery back to Culter Allers Farm.

OS Landranger Map 72 Start/Finish Grid Reference NT032313 Greenock Cut The Greenock Cut is a magnificent walk of around seven miles above Greenock, utilising the 19th century paths and tracks near to Loch Thom.

Starting at Overton , a track travels west passing some of the historic workers cottages used when this great feat of engineering was built and continues to reach Shielhill Farm with a variety of astonishing views along the way including the sprawl of Greenock towards the Cowal Peninsula and the glorious jagged outline of Arran. The track then concludes at Cornalees Visitor Centre and from here follow a path northeast across open moorland back to Overton enjoying marvellous views across the Firth of Clyde towards Ben Lomond.

OS Landranger Map 63 Start/Finish GR NS266749 Cairnbaan to Crinan There can’t be many better ways to spend a few hours on a summer’s day strolling along the towpath of the Crinan Canal, watching the boats negotiate the locks and enjoying the rich variety of wildlife and lovely views. Cairnbaan lies only a few miles from Lochgilphead and, with the excellent Cairnbaan Hotel, is really the focal point of the route.

The locks here are still manually operated and it is great to help out when opening and closing them. A towpath follows the line of the canal the five miles to Crinan where there is another excellent hotel and a coffee shop and as little or as much time can be taken to walk along this wonderful section of Argyll. A bus runs from Crinan back to Cairnbaan.

Otherwise it is a simple matter of retracing steps back along the towpath and enjoying the scenery, wildlife, and peace and quiet.

OS Landranger Map 55 Start/Finish GR NR908840 Beinn a Chrulaiste The mountains of Glencoe are on many walkers radar when it comes to summer walking but some can have preconceived ideas as to what this amazing part of Scotland has to offer and are wary of climbing to the summits. A good introduction to Glencoe is Beinn a Chrulaiste whose summit provides the finest vantage point in Glencoe.

Beginning at the Kingshouse Hotel, walk by the hotel to reach the West Highland Way but instead of turning left here cross a stile and climb gradually alongside the Allt a Bhalaich into Coire Bhalach. Once here, it is a straightforward climb up steep, grassy slopes onto a ridge. Then climb west then and south onto the flat summit of Beinn a Chrulaiste, and enjoy the incredible panorama. Carefully descend east through some craggy outcrops to regain the Allt a Bhalaich and then retrace your steps back to the Kingshouse Hotel.

OS Landranger Map 41 Start/Finish GR NN259546 Beinn nan Aighenan Beinn nan Aighenan is a remote mountain lying deep within Glen Kinglass some miles away from any road. However, an excellent path makes its way from Victoria Bridge near to Bridge of Orchy to Beinn nan Aighenan’s base and is ideal for a mountain bike saving a long walk in. Leaving the car park at Victoria Bridge, follow the track west alongside the banks of the Abhainn Shira with great views towards the muscular flanks of Stob Ghabhar and once past Loch Dochard the track descends to the River Kinglass. A new bridge crosses the river and so leave the bike here and climb the steep slopes onto granite slabs above Coire a Bhinnien. It is then a steepish climb to reach the summit of Beinn nan Aighenan which is a superb vantage point to view the great mountains of Glencoe and the Central Highlands. To return descend back to the River Kinglass to pick up the bike and enjoy the cycle back to Victoria Bridge.

OS Landranger Map 50 Start/Finish GR NN272421 Ben Vrackie Ben Vrackie’s conspicuous outline rises above Pitlochry. The path climbs north from a small car park through mixed woodland and then onto Ben Vrackie’s open slopes. Height is gained quickly with great views across Perthshire and a gradual climb leads to lovely Loch a Choire. From here it is a simple, yet steep, ascent to the summit where Schiehallion’s distinctive cone rises above Loch Tummel and stunning views north towards Beinn a Ghlo. A more interesting means of descent (requires good navigational skills) is to carefully descend north-east avoiding a craggy ridge and then south-east to Carn Geal. From here carefully descend south to reach obvious crags at the 650m contour line where below a farm track crosses heathery slopes south-west towards Creag Bhreac to rejoin the tourist track leading back to car park.

OS Landranger Map 43 & 52 Start/Finish GR NN945598 Laggan Locks and the Caledonian Canal This easy, low level walk follows part of the Caledonian Canal beside Loch Lochy and also a track along the route of an old railway line. It is an extremely peaceful walk with lovely views and lots of wildlife at this time of the year.

Leaving Laggan Locks walk north-east along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal and then onto a path above the canal. Follow this track (and Great Glen way markers) which has good views along the canal to reach the A82 and carefully cross this and walk down a narrow road for the Great Glen Water Park. Bear right here onto a path and walk along to meet another path leading up to the railway line. The walk continues south-west through beautiful mixed woodland with lots of flora and fauna. Continue along the main track until a narrow path bears right which leads back down to the A82 and to Laggan Locks OS Landranger Map 34 Start/Finish GR NN287963 Cairn Gorm and Ben MacDui This walk climbs high onto the Cairngorm plateau, the scale of which should never be underestimated. Beginning at the Coire Cas car park a path climbs steeply onto Sron an Aonaich and continues past the Ptarmigan restaurant to the 1245 metre summit of Cairn Gorm. Ben MacDui seems only a short distance away but such is the undulating nature of the terrain that first impressions are deceiving. A path leads away south from Cairn Gorm and hugs the corries edge as it makes its way towards Cairn Lochan, the views exceptional.

Just before Cairn Lochan a path strikes south and begins its gradual ascent to Scotland’s second highest mountain of Ben MacDui. To descend, retrace your steps from Ben MacDui north following a path above the Lairig Ghru before descending beneath Coire an Sneachda and back to Coire Cas car park OS Landranger Map 36 Start/Finish GR NH990060 Findhorn Findhorn, sitting on Scotland’s north-east coast near to Nairn, is a beautiful, unspoilt village with beautiful sandy beaches, lovely dunes and some fantastic views towards the mountains of Caithness. This walk is really a stroll around the village and onto the beach which is guaranteed to relieve any stress levels and brighten any mood. The walk can be extended if you wish as you can walk along the beach all the way to Burghead. At the entrance to the village a road runs north-west along Findhorn Bay passing the Royal Findhorn Yacht Club. At a boatyard turn left down onto the beach and walk along the lovely sand to reach the dunes. Walk over the dunes which in turn lead onto the beautiful beach looking over Burghead Bay. Turn right and enjoy this unblemished corner of Scotland.

About a mile along the beach turn right off the beach into a car park and here quiet roads will take you back into the village.

OS Landranger Map 27 Start/Finish GR NJ039643