Kirriemuir comes into its own as the Gateway to the Glens next month when it is the hub for the 15th Angus Glens Walking Festival.
Nora McElhone caught up with chief countryside ranger Norman Greig to find out more about what the 2017 festival has to offer.
As a keen walker and countryside ranger with ANGUSalive’s Countryside Adventure Team, Norman has been involved in the Angus Glens Walking Festival for many years.
He feels that the festival has helped unlock the secret of the beautiful Angus Glens for walkers from near and far.
“I very much enjoy being out on the hills,” he says, “particularly to enjoy the tranquillity of the Countryside and to observe the wildlife and scenery. I am very enthusiastic about the walking festival and being a part of the team getting people out into the hills and glens of Angus.
“In my opinion the Glens and their surroundings are no longer one of Scotland’s hidden gems, on account of the hundreds of walks promoted by the festival over the years, as they are now better known and enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.”
Norman points out that Kirriemuir is the natural starting point and base camp for the walks. “The Festival provides the opportunity for locals and visitors to the town to participate in a walk that they may not have considered before or perhaps thought too difficult a challenge to take on alone!
“The walks offer participants a bespoke package which combines the navigation skills of the mountain leaders along with the local area and wildlife knowledge of the countryside adventure rangers. Folk come from all over the country and indeed the world to participate in the festival so they stay in local accommodation and enjoy the benefits of nearby restaurants, pubs and shops.”
There is a mix of old favourite walks such as the linear Jocks Road route over the iconic former Drovers road, which is made much more accessible by the provision of transport. This year, the team have also developed a walk suitable for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities, following good paths through Glen Doll forest into Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve. Unfortunately the walk isn’t suitable for wheelchair users – please contact Laura Smith prior to booking this walk on 01307 473880.
On a personal level, Norman is looking forward to the stalker outing with local walk leader Andy Malcolm.
“He will guide walkers from Tarfside to Glen Esk in a rare opportunity to join an experienced keeper who lives and works on the local estate,” he enthuses.
“If there is wildlife to be seen Andy’s eagle eye will find it. In particular, he will hope to bring you up close to red deer, spot eagles and other birds of prey and introduce you to adders frequently seen basking in the sun! There is no doubt that he will bring to life his fascinating life story based in Glen Esk.”
The Glens of Angus each have their own unique beauty but for Norman, Glen Esk is the hidden gem.
“Glen Esk is my favourite as it is more remote and I find it a very peaceful place to walk and take in the scenery,” he says.
“Dreish, Mayer and Corrie Fee is also a favourite as this route carries you out of the Glen Doll forest onto the Kilbo Path, to a ridge which then turns off to as you start to climb to the Munro Driesh summit (as a height of 947m).
“The walk then leads you back to the Kilbo Path and continues until you reach the Munro Mayar (928m). The walk then descends through Corrie Fee Natural Nature Reserve back into the forest for the return to Glen Doll.”
The Angus Glens Walking Festival is sponsored by the Forestry Commussion Scotland in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
“In addition, the support of landowners, farmers and estates whose land we cross is gratefully acknowledged as without them the festival could not take place,” says Norman. “All of the team look forward to welcoming you to the Angus Glens Walking Festival!”
The Angus Glens Walking Festival takes place from June 1 to 4.
For more info and to book, click here.