Saturday 27 February 2016

Mount Keen

It was a bit of a drive down to Glen Esk and along to Invermark and the start of our walk - but the views were great, the eastern Cairngorms, the tops in snow, in glorious February sunshine. 

We were raring to go - especially Rafe, who had been stuck in the car for two and a half hours! Our objective, Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro.

Burn of Branny in Invermark

We parked up in the good sized car park in the little village of Invermark, donned boots and jackets - despite the sunshine, it was still early, and it was chilly.

Invermark Church

The route out of the village was well signposted, over the bridge, past the church and onto an excellent track beside the Water of Mark.

Rafe and Jim - Glen Mark near Invermark

The sky was, oh so, blue and the walking was easy - a gentle leg stretch.

Rafe and Jim - looking north west along Glen Mark

As we continued along the Glen, the hills rose up around us, speckled with snow. The river reflected the sky and the birches were purple against the gold and green...

Rafe beside the Water of Mark

It wasn't long before we got our first view of Queen's Well, about 3km into the walk. Queen Victoria (not my favourite historical figure) apparently watered her horses at the well in 1861. The local laird, Lord Dalhousie, erected the monument to commemorate the event,

Queens Well, Glen Mark

We took the short detour off the main track to the Well - quite a few photographs were taken. We had a swig of juice and a biscuit whilst Rafie had a drink at the Royal well.

Rafe and Jim approaching Glenmark Cottage - views to Couternach and Pandewen

The main track swings away from the Water of Mark just beyond the Well, north past Glenmark Cottage. Its a lovely old shooting lodge, currently a remote holiday cottage - looks a marvellous and romantic place to live - on a sunny morning!

Rafe by Glenmark Cottage

We crossed the Easter Burn (ford) and the Ladder Burn (interesting "bridge") easily - before starting a gentle ascent up the Ladder Glen.

Over the Ladder Burn to Upper Glen Mark

Jim and Rafe starting the ascent of the track beside the Ladder Burn

We started to pass through patches of snow, softening fast in the sun, but hard and icy in the shade. It was pretty easy to avoid, and we made good time.

Looking back - south east - into Glen Mark from Ladder Glen

Rafe and Jim in the Ladder Glen

The Ladder Glen

The path was good, the route clear, we did a zig and a zag before coming out on the open hillside above the Ladder Glen with Mount Keen, clear and bright ahead.

Looking back - south east - down Ladder Glen

The Ladder Glen with views north west to Mount Keen

We continued on the track, north across the snowy hillside, the snow increasing as we ascended,

Rafe - that's not the summit! - views to Mount Keen

Jim - Ascent of The Mounth road

After about a kilometre, we left the Mounth road which carries on into Glen Tanar, and headed off towards Mount Keen. Although the path was now snow covered, the route was obvious - up.

Looking back - south east - towards Glen Mark

It wasn't particularly steep - and the widening views kept our attention away from the climb...

Looking back along our ascent route to Mount Keen

Jim and Rafe - Nearning Mount Keen summit

Lochnagar and friends appeared in the north, perfect in the blue.

Views west from the ascent of Mount Keen - Lochnagar and the Cairngorms

Looking back - south east - over Angus Glens

There was a nasty little, unexpected, false top - but we were soon approaching the summit - frozen and rocky.

For the first time, a chilly wind got up...

Rafe and Jim near Mount Keen summit

East towards Fife from ascent of Mount Keen

Mount Keen Summit - views north

We made our way to the trig point - Mount Keen (Munro 235, 939m) - the views were stupendous - clear, crisp and far reaching - in every direction.

Mount Keen summit (Munro 235, 939m)

Lochnagar from Mount Keen

West from Mount Keen summit

West to The Cairngorms from Mount Keen

After a bit of an explore around the summit, we tucked in behind some rocks out of the wind, for a spot of lunch and a cuppa.


South east over Mount Keen summit

We chatted with a group of climbers who had ascended from Glen Tanar - Londoners who had picked the right week to visit Scotland for a week of hillwalking!

Pretty good view - lunch on Mount Keen

Before heading off the way we had come, back across the shining mountain towards the Ladder Glen.

Ptarmigan - near Mount Keen summit

A couple of ptarmigan, well camouflaged, in full winter garb, popped up from behind a rock to check our Rafie's intentions. Rafe knew he wasn't allowed to take one step in their direction!

Rafe and Jim - descent from Mount Keen - views south east

In the sun and out of the wind it was Hot!

Lochnagar and the Cairngorms from Mount Keen

Jacket off!

Rafe and Jim - descent from Mount Keen

Views over Glen Mark from descent from Mount Keen

Down hill - we were fast. It wasn't long before we were into the Ladder Glen - the snow had softened and was melting fast. No icy patches now!

Jim and Rafe - looking down Ladder Glen from descent from Mount Keen

Ladder Burn - views to Glen Mark

Back beside the Water of Mark - we were ready for a bite. We found a likely spot beside the water and had a second lunch. The sun was dropping behind the hills and it was chilly in the shade. We didn't linger.

Water of Mark - good place for a second lunch. Views north west

A gentle stroll back along Glen Esk - different light, different views - and we were soon at Invermark.

Another cracking day!

Jim and Rafe - nearing the end of the walk - in Glen Mark

Route:  Car park at Invermark at the W end of Glen Esk (NO446803), W along road for 250m, past church, N on track (sp Queens Well and Mount Keen) past House of Mark and NW along track beside Water of Mark to Queens Well and Glenmark Cottage, cross Easter Burn and Ladder Burn, track NW above Ladder Burn and onto open moor, continue on track to NO405856, N to Mount Keen summit (NO409869) (Munro 235, 939m), Return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 17.5km  Ascent: 810m  Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer OL54 Glen Esk and Glen Tanar

Mount Keen

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