Walk of the week: Airlie Monument/Hill of Couternach

THE Angus Glens are a great place to immerse yourself in wonderful hill country.

Airlie Monument. Picture: Nick Drainey
Airlie Monument. Picture: Nick Drainey

As you begin to leave the rolling farmland behind, the glens rise up on either side, ending with their heads in high mountains.

At the bottom of Glen Clova stands the Airlie Monument, built to commemorate the 9th Earl of Airlie, who died in the Boer War.

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More history is recorded at a monument at the bottom of the hill to polar explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Edward Adrian Wilson, who planned their ill-fated trip to the South Pole in 1912 in the area. If that is not enough history for you, the parents of Dame Nellie Melba, the famed Australian soprano, once lived in a now derelict cottage below this memorial. It has even been claimed the opera star – yes, she did have a peach dessert named after her – was born there just before her parents emigrated.

As important as history is, once you begin the high-level moorland walk from the Airlie Monument, the sight of the Angus Glens ahead of you are enough to clear the most crowded of minds.

DISTANCE 8 miles.


TIME 3∫ to 4∫ hours.

MAP OS Landranger 44.

PARK Follow the B955 north from Kirriemuir for about five miles. Turn left at the end of Dykehead village, down the Glen Prosen road. After about a mile there is a sharp right-hand bend and just after it a car park on the right, up a rough track.

IN SUMMARY Follow a track up from the car park, which winds through pine trees. As the gradient eases, you reach a junction where you should go left and follow another track up and out of the trees to stand below the monument. The walk continues on the other side of the construction – after a few hundred yards, go over a ladder stile or through a gate next to it. Go through another gate and continue in the same direction, through a plantation. After another stile and gate the rough track drops down to a dip in the broad moorland ridge you are following.

At the bottom, go straight ahead, following a rough track next to fence posts. This leads up to what is marked on OS Landranger maps as The Goal. Once over the top of the hill, bear left, staying next to the fence posts, to reach a small cluster of rather straggly larch trees. You can go left here to cut the walk short, but the longer route goes straight on.

The track crosses to the other (right) side of the fence posts and rises up a small hill, bearing right at the top. You then descend a short way before climbing up the Sneck of Corinch, still following the fence posts. At the top you continue towards the Craigs of Lethnot (the crags are unseen to the right) before bearing left and dropping down again.

The final uphill section leads you to the top of Hill of Couternach. The featureless, heather-clad summit of 1,680 feet is worth it for the views of the top of the glens.

Retrace your steps to the small group of larch trees and go right immediately before them.

Stay on the track closest to a fence on the left as you descend. Lower down, go through a metal gate in the fence and follow a track on the other side, which leads all the way down through forestry to the Glen Prosen road. Go left and walk the last mile or so to the car park.

REFRESH Kirriemuir has a good choice, but for a setting surrounded by high mountains head up Glen Clova to the Glen Clova Hotel.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA In Kirriemuir you can visit the birthplace of author JM Barrie. Looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, there is a Peter Pan garden as well as memorabilia.