Hill of Garbet, Angus glens
It’s always nice to find a place of your own on a fine day, and the lesser frequented glens just a few miles north of Forfar provide the ideal opportunity to do just that.
There’s a sweep of summits above the glens of Moy, Ogil and Cruick which can be linked in a variety of ways through a network of old drove roads and more modern estate tracks.
The rounded Hill of Garbet is not one to get the pulse racing – in fact, blink and you’ll miss it – but it serves as an important waypoint for a leisurely circuit of contrasting colour and landscape.
The weather had finally settled down from a week of wind and rain for the drive along the warren of roads around Tannadice and Noranside, the final destination being the farm at Affliochie. Parking here is in short supply: there is a grass verge possibility at the entrance, but I drove into the farm and was directed to a handy spot at the back. It seems there’s no problem, but it’s always better to ask.
The idyllic mood struck home as soon as I started walking north-east; a duck with her young ones snuggled in on the grass at the side of the rough road, rabbits running everywhere, the sound of curlew piercing the air. Even the sheep, grazing openly, seemed unworried by my presence.
The views south were never-ending and vibrant. I can’t remember a year where we have had such an abundance of lush greenery: from roadside verges to field and woodland everything seems to be thriving.
The road morphed into a track, heading through open gates and on into the trees before swinging left past the house at Trusta and down to a tranquil body of water.
A metal farm gate just beyond led on to the open hill where there were two options: either turn sharp left after a short distance and go over the top of Craig of Trusta, or follow the track below the hill and then climb steadily when it turns left.
The routes meet up on the Old Man, and this was where the nature of the walk switched dramatically. The green had been left behind, now it was the dark heathers of high moorland stretching off to a crowded horizon of rolling hills.
As if to match the mood change, the early blue sky and white cloud had been replaced by towering blacks and greys which looked as though they were pressing down on the landscape, squeezing out the remaining light, turning multi-coloured to monochrome.
I continued up past a locked-up estate hut to the flank known as Mowat’s Seat, then on to the rise of Laidwinley and along to Hill of Garbet, where the high point is just off track. With the greater heights of Hill of Glansie, Mount Sned and Hill of Mondurran ahead, the track made a sharp turn at a junction to head south.
This is part of an old hill pass leading from Affliochie to Waterhead in Glen Lethnot. A much quieter route than the main Mounth passes, it was mostly used by pedestrians, although it may have also appealed to some drovers wanting to avoid toll roads while moving their cattle.
It made for a fast descent, with the prominent peak of Pinderachy a handy landmark straight ahead. A gate on the left at a junction was the final turn to head down into the greenery along the twisting line of the Cruick Water.
Once through a metal gate, the now grassier track went into woodland, passing a small quarry and a house to emerge back at the farm where I was still the only customer.
1. From back of farm, cross cattle grid and follow surfaced track north-east. Pass through entrance gates and a little further on turn left heading towards Trusta.
2. When track starts to turn into house grounds, go left on rougher track into trees and follow downhill and round lochan to reach metal farm gate.
3. Follow track through gate and soon after take sharp left turn going uphill. After about 1km, turn right on track which goes across top of Craig of Trusta to track junction on the Old Man.
4. Turn left and stay on main track until it bends left (ignore right branch) to pass hut below shoulder known as Mowat’s Seat and turn right at next junction heading up to Laidwinley.
5. At meeting of tracks, turn left and cross Hill of Garbet (summit is off to left) until track takes a sharp turn left.
6. Drop south for just over 1km on this section before going through metal gate on left at another junction and follow down by Cruick Water to reach metal gate at treeline.
7. Go through gate and go straight ahead through trees, passing small quarry and house on right, to cross stream by stepping stones to emerge at farm.
Time: 3-5 hours
Grading: Relatively easy circuit on rough estate tracks over high moorland, some sustained ascents but suitable for those with reasonable level of fitness. Dogs under close control – the route passes through farmland and there is open grazing for sheep. Also ground nesting birds.
Start/finish: Parking at Afflochie Farm (Grid ref: NO 475645) but as a courtesy, please check for permission. It may also be possible to use grass verge on left at entrance.
Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger Map 44 (Ballater & Glen Clova); Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet OL 53.
Tourist Information: VisitScotland, Dundee iCentre, 16 City Square, Dundee, DD1 3BG (Tel 01382 527527).
Public transport: None.