Sunday, 21 March 2010

An Angus Adventure

The rich brown earth of Angus lies exposed, ploughed and expectant, with every second vehicle on the quiet backroads a tractor. It is a well-husbanded part of the world, lacking the west's wildness, and claims to be the 'birthplace of Scotland'. For the core of this ancient country of Scotland is the stretch of land between Strathearn and Montrose centred on Strathmore, which perhaps comes as a surprise to your average punter. Where is the stereotype of the Angus farmer? Think of a Scot, and you are probably imagining an angry Glaswegian or a bagpipe-playing Highlander.

Perhaps this is why I've tended to neglect Angus in the past. The benefit is that it feels like a new destination, and on my way to Glen Clova for a hillwalk I stopped at Eassie church.

Chickens from a nearby house foraged by the roadside. There was little chance of them being hit by a car on this quiet Saturday morning. I wonder how old this church is?

Eassie Church:

There are plenty 18th century gravestones outside, but the church could easily be many centuries older.

Eassie gravestone:

The real attraction in Eassie is a Pictish carved stone from the 6 or 700s. It's tucked away in a corner of the church ruin:

Eassie stone:

There are similar stones are all over east and north-east Scotland. The Picts left little else for posterity.

After Eassie it was up Glen Clova and a place I consider to be one of the most beautiful corries in Scotland, Corrie Fee:

In Corrie Fee:

It's not the most dramatic corrie by any means, but it has such an atmosphere of rightness, with a satisfyingly regularly shape and a line of fairy hillocks at its neck.

Above Corrie Fee:

Corrie Fee is the transition zone between forestry and agriculture in the glen and the subarctic plateau of the Mounth. This is Scotland's historic wilderness. Unliked the artificially deserted, cleared glens of the west, nobody ever lived here, and you can see why:

On the Mounth plateau:

There was plenty wildlife: mountain hare ran away from me, and I was buzzed by a pair of grouse. There were ptarmigan and I was observed by distant deer. What I didn't see all day was another person except at the Glen Doll car park (which now charges £2!). Given my unusual route - up the Munro of Mayar via Corrie Fee then along the plateau towards Tolmount - this was hardly surprising. The going was horrendously hard work. Without snowshoes or skis, this plateau is virtually inaccessible. The acres of dazzling, rolling whiteness surrounding me were a far cry from the brown farmland earlier in the day.

Footprints on the Mounth plateau:

I was relieved to finally reach Tom Buidhe, an inconsequential bump on the plateau, and was rewarded with a view north towards the distant Cairngorms.

Panorama from Tom Buidhe:

The Angus adventure was nearly over. All that remained was to get back down from my remote perch!


PurestGreen said...

Stunning photos. I love the pictish stone, and how there are countless ancient treasures dotted around this country, just "tucked away" as you have said, with hardly anyone to visit them.

Now I really want to travel around Angus. Sigh.

Robert Craig said...

It's not as scenic as the west coast, but there's lots of history in Angus that I'm looking forward to exploring!

blueskyscotland said...

Good to see you enjoying some sunshine again Craig..!
The Angus Glens are one of Scotlands neglected areas,aren`t they ? I can thoroughly recommend Glen Esk and an outing up Hunt Hill for a spectacular day out.

Robert Craig said...

Never been up Hunt Hill, will have to have a look next time I'm in that area. Not sure if the Angus Glens are neglected, Glen Clova is the Ben Lomond of Dundee, though I suppose there are far fewer Central Belters there than in Crianlarich / Arrochar / Trossachs / Pitlochry areas!