THERE is nothing like a sudden hard, cold spell to give warning of the first intimations of winter.
On a day when Jimbo, Lindsay and I were free to go to the hills, the weather forecast was distinctly unpromising – wind 20 to 30mph, with gusts of 40mph, periodic showers, 50 per cent chance of cloud free summits and only 4c at 3,000ft, the latter before adjusting for wind chill. A short day was called for and where better than 987m/3238ft Creag Leacach, the southernmost of the line of four Munros on the east side of the A93, close to the Glen Shee ski area? Thanks to the ski area, the road is well cared for with regard to snow clearance.
Glen Shee, in Gaelic Gleann Sith, means glen of peace or reconciliation, perhaps a reference to the former hospice, Spittal of Glenshee, so it is ironic to pass the still mapped site of the Devil’s Elbow. My sister recalls driving there on a scooter. With both driver and passenger laden with rucksacks, the scooter couldn’t cope with the roads, resulting in the passenger having to dismount and walk.
Given the weather forecast, we unashamedly opted for the easiest route, from the ski area with its starting height advantage of 665m. The six-mile walk takes only some four hours, of importance bearing in mind short daylight hours.
(Other routes start further south from the A93, at map ref 139757. A path then track climbs north over Leacann Dubh for a circuitous route; a steep approach goes direct to the top; or a southerly loop goes by Meall Gorm and a subsidiary Top, the 943m South-west Top.)
Map Ordnance Survey map 43, Braemar & Blair Atholl
Distance 6 miles
Terrain Track and worn path to stony ridge
Start point Track, map ref 142775, just north of 665m high point of A93
Time 4 hours
Nearest village Braemar
Refreshment spot Glen Shee Ski Centre café