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Glen Beanie circular walk, Glen Shee

By Becky Williamson

Our plans to do some hillwalking had been thwarted by the heavy snowfall of recent weeks, but we remained undeterred from doing some serious walking - my daughter and I that is. I simply revised my 'wish list'. Unlike when I am on Islay, constantly perusing the maps for gridsquares yet unvisited, I was looking at a totally green map and so could choose anywhere, as long as it wasn't too risky.

I chose Glen Beanie. originally my wish list had included a circular trip which took in both Loch Beanie and Mealna Letter to the south. Well that would have to be revised for a start.

So we set off, having hired child-sized snow goggles from a nice man at one of the many ski hire centres in Glen Shee. (He'd run out of adult sized pairs). We met our second friendly person of the day after carefully parking the car at Dalvanie and the start of our walk. He had just fed the cattle and was up for a long chat. "There's lots of snow at Loch Beanie," he warned. "I was after feeding the cattle there a few days ago."

Undeterred, we set off along the snow-covered path (now with tractor tyre marks too) NO1866 : The start of the Loch Beanie track at Dalvanie by Becky Williamson and followed the path which runs parallel to the woodland NO1766 : Snow-covered track through Glen Beanie by Becky Williamson and NO1767 : Glen Beanie in snow by Becky Williamson. At times the path was hard to follow, but it was to become much harder to do so as we entered Glen Beanie proper. NO1767 : Glen Beanie in snow by Becky Williamson I decided it was too risky to keep following the footprints which seemed to be leading up Creagan Caise; much safer to stay in the valley - or so I thought - to my error. We followed ski tracks along the valley and I fell waist-deep in to the Glen Beanie burn. Fortunately Lorna was there to help me out and I wasn't in for very long and fortunately I'd got enough layers on to prevent the cold seeping through. Even so it was cold enough not to want to linger. A hot cup of water later and we were back on our way. I checked my camera to make sure it was still working, taking a photo of Mealna Letter (which would have been our destination) NO1667 : Mealna Letter from the Glen Beanie path by Becky Williamson, NO1667 : Mealna Letter from the head of Glen Beanie by Becky Williamson and NO1667 : Mealna Letter from the head of Glen Beanie by Becky Williamson. My binoculars were not to function properly for the rest of the walk however and I missed them sorely, not being able to see the huge herd of Red Deer at the head of the Glen. NO1767 : Large herd of Red Deer in Glen Beanie by Lorna Williamson

We took a final look back down the Glen NO1768 : Looking back to Glen Beanie from the north end of the valley by Becky Williamson and NO1768 : Glen Beanie in snow by Becky Williamson before heading over the saddle towards Loch Beanie, still trying desperately to find and follow the footprints of those who had gone before. Expecting quite a large loch we were surprised to see a much reduced loch due to the snow which lay over much of its surface. NO1668 : Loch Beanie - or what's left of it! by Becky Williamson The views were stunning though and we truly felt in the middle of nowhere although I think this was an illusion cast largely by the snow and the sheer whiteness of it all. Had there not been any snow it would not have been as pretty, the walk would have been a lot easier and it would certainly have felt less remote.

The footprints led to the delightful footbridge over the Allt Mr where we decided to have lunch. NO1568 : Footbridge over Allt Mòr near Loch Beanie by Becky Williamson We'd debated whether to trudge gratuitously to the Boat House to see if it was open as it would have been warm and dry in there, but decided it was unnecessarily far, especially if we'd found it locked. We sat on the footbridge and I allowed us 20 minutes for lunch. A Dipper surprised us by flying overhead, calling anxiously. No doubt we were disturbing it, but we were not going to linger long. I hoped it would find refuge somewhere as there was not much of a river for it to find food and shelter. NO1568 : View from footbridge over Allt Mòr near Loch Beanie by Becky Williamson and NO1568 : View from footbridge over Allt Mòr near Loch Beanie by Becky Williamson.

The footpath became even more vague as we headed westwards towards Glen Shee Lodge where we hoped to join the Cateran Trail. A gate marked the end of our trudge and the beginning of more cultivated land at Shallavanach. NO1468 : Gate marking the beginning of Shallavanach farmland by Becky Williamson The snow became more patchy NO1468 : Snow covered fields near Glen Shee Lodge by Becky Williamson and we soon caught sight of buildings. We were relieved to see signs of civilisation after our long trek through the snow NO1468 : Looking towards Shallavanach and Glen Shee Lodge by Becky Williamson.

Approaching Shallavanach the snow became even more patchy NO1368 : Approaching Shallavanach from Loch Beanie by Becky Williamson and NO1368 : Shallavanach, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson. We paused to take a photo of a large boulder just before the farm NO1368 : Boulder near Shallavanach Farm, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson and then we were at the Glen Shee Outdoor Centre NO1368 : Glenshee Lodge (Outdoor Centre) by Becky Williamson where we asked about the Cateran Trail. Where could we join it? We'd come unnecessarily far. We should have joined the trail at Shallavanach so we retraced our steps and walked through sludgy fields to the trail.

The trail seems to consist of a lot of redundant stiles NO1367 : Redundant stile near Invereddrie on the Cateran Trail, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson. This one was just after a memorial which, quite frankly, we had no energy to detour to NO1367 : Memorial near Invereddrie by Becky Williamson. There was still a lot of snow around NO1367 : Glen Shee from the Cateran Trail by Becky Williamson and walking was still incredibly hard work. We still managed to pause to take requisite photos NO1366 : View across snowy landscape to Meall Dubh, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson and just to rest or admire the views.

We crossed the Allt Coire na Ceardaich NO1466 : Looking across the Allt Coire na Ceardaich to Finegand Farm by Becky Williamson and NO1466 : Allt Coire na Ceardaich, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson near Dunmay NO1466 : Near Dunmay on Cateran Trail, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson and continued southwards. Pollgorm Cottage across the valley looked attractive with its red roof NO1465 : Pollgorm Cottage, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson. Soon we were at Dalnaglar Castle NO1464 : Dalnaglar Castle, Glen Shee by Becky Williamson, but time was short and we couldn't afford to pause. We'd promised to return the snow goggles before the hire place closed at 6 pm and my parents had told us they would start worrying if we hadn't returned before 6.30 pm. Both were looking like an increasing impossibility.

We emerged pretty unscathed onto our first proper road in 6 miles and the tarmac felt weird beneath our feet. Still there were signs for the Cateran Trail NO1464 : Junction on Cateran Trail near Dalnaglar Castle by Becky Williamson. Soon we arrived at the B951 where we mustered a giggle at someone's snowy handiwork NO1564 : Snowbeast at junction to Dalnaglar Castle by Becky Williamson at the junction NO1564 : Sign for Dalnaglar Castle by Becky Williamson. From here there was nothing for it but to wind our weary way eastwards along a seemingly never-ending road. In truth there was only 3 miles of it, but that's a long way after 6 miles of snow when you've fallen in a river and your son's left you an anxious message to call him but you have no signal to call him or your anxious parents and no number or signal to call the kind man who hired out child-sized snow goggles at a bargain price. Violins please! Anxiety laden, we trundled along the B road to Glen Isla NO1664 : The B951 to Glen Isla by Becky Williamson. Even taking photos was an effort for me now, but I knew I'd regret it afterwards if I didn't have the full walk in photos.

We knew we'd to pass the attractive Forter Castle. NO1864 : Forter Castle by Becky Williamson for we'd seen it on our way to the parking place many hours before. "It seemed ages from there to the car," Lorna moaned and I echoed her sighs but tried not to show it - good mother that I am! We turned onto our final minor road as dusk was falling NO1865 : Eastwards at dusk from Dalvanie by Becky Williamson and imagined the car round every bend. Eventually we arrived back. It was just after 6 pm. I am grateful to the ski hire place for still being open to return the goggles and to the lady in the pottery who let me use the phone to call my worried parents. "The tea will be spoilt," was their sympathetic response. So be it - a small price to pay for this snowy adventure.

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Wed, 10 Apr 2013 at 13:05
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geotagged! NO1668

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