As crazy as it sounds we did indeed bag our first Munro back in September without realising until we were on our way back (I know, who does that?). At first I wondered if my husband had actually known that the hill he was coaxing me up was a Munro and just feigned ignorance, but he assured me that he didn’t (hmm). If we had popped into the Glen Doll Information Centre before setting off we would have realised that ‘Cairngorm Plateau’ was in actual fact the summit of Mayar (928m). But we were keen to get going and, with all the excitement of a child-free day and our first hill walk in a few years, we set off from the car park in a hurry.
We had decided to try to plan one day each month where we would spend the day together without the littles (luckily there are grandparents who are happy to help us out, for which I am incredibly grateful). I had read about the Angus Glens, described as a hidden gem, back in the spring and said to my husband at the time that if we were ever to have a day to ourselves we should dust off our walking boots and head here. And I’m so very glad we did.
I had read that the Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve was particularly lovely and the Corrie Fee Trail up to the waterfall seemed like a good first walk for a couple who hadn’t worn walking boots in about five years (see the green route in the map above – and the extra dotted trail to the Cairngorm Plateau). Corrie Fee lies in Glen Doll, which rather confusingly itself lies at the head of Glen Clova.
The first part of the walk leads through the Glen Doll forest and I immediately felt soothed by nature (I hadn’t had a lot of sleep the night before but the fresh pine scent and the embrace of the towering trees made me feel better than the takeaway coffee I had cradled during the car journey). I am always revitalised by a day spent outdoors.
“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” ~ John Muir
There are little signs like the one above throughout this part of the forest walk which Isaac would have loved, with information about the trail, its wildlife and history.
We had read about the amazing natural amphitheatre that is Corrie Fee but I was still completely awestruck as we stepped out of the forest into this clearing. There was not another soul and it was quiet, save for the occasional bird call. As we walked into the middle of the ‘amphitheatre’ I suddenly felt exposed, tiny, insignificant. The craggy wall that surrounded us was immense, and I felt like we had stepped back in time, imagining glaciers carving their path through this landscape. Even if you don’t walk any further, the trail through the forest to here just to soak up this incredible scenery would be a lovely Sunday walk.
As we climbed higher the landscape opened up, and we sat with a flask of coffee but mainly drank in the view.
The path follows alongside the waterfall and it is a good path, at no point did I feel nervous about my footing.
And so we reached the top of the waterfall, just as the sun momentarily broke through the clouds. For me, that was enough – I had really enjoyed the walk and to be honest my legs were quite happy with what they had achieved. My husband, aka Mr Mountain Goat, was full of enthusiasm and pleaded with me to walk on ‘just a little bit’ as he’d read that there were good views from the Cairngorm Plateau. If I’d known how long it would take to reach I would have set off back down the waterfall. His boundless energy got to me and I reluctantly agreed to continue.
We met a team working on a new path and asked how long to the top. ‘Twenty minutes to half an hour’, one said. And then, looking at me: ‘At a faster pace than you’re going though’.
The wind tried its best to push us back down the path. When I said to Mr Mountain Goat that I was having to physically lift my legs one at a time as they’d stopped working properly, he realised that I was flailing. He made me sit down and drink some more coffee, and then promised we wouldn’t have to walk much further. Luckily for him he was right.
We reached the summit and it was indeed breathtaking (quite literally). We took in the views whilst being battered by the wind and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment to have reached the point Mr Mountain Goat so wanted to get to. A loch sparkled in the distance and the layers of mountains all around us was beautiful, even in its grey cloak.
Frustratingly as we started our descent the sun burst through the clouds but my husband couldn’t be persuaded to run back up with my camera. We were ready for our picnic and quickly returned to the waterfall and started the descent back to the forest. Half way down we met a lovely couple who seemed very bemused by our faces when they told us the hill we were referring to was a Munro. And we then learnt that most people who walk up Mayar continue on to bag Driesh (which was their plan). Laughingly (and rather proud that I had bagged my first Munro after 4 hours sleep the night before) we walked the rest of the path back to the middle of the basin where we had our picnic.
It was, quite simply, a stunning place to walk and even though I was incredibly sore the next day (oh, my bottom!) I was glad that we had continued on to the summit. And when spring returns I know I’ll be calling on the grandparents again so I can set off on another of the Glen Doll trails.