A Traverse of Mount Keen

30 08 2012

I’m mainly putting this post out as the route Richard and I took to do Mount Keen was rather unusual… We were staying in a log cabin in Braemar for the week and had invited my parents to join us. This meant that we had non-walking drivers in case we wanted to do any traverse walks (as opposed to rounds starting and ending at the same place). I’d had my eye on this route for a long time and decided this could be the ideal opportunity to put it into practice. Luckily my Mum didn’t mind a drive round half of Scotland from Braemar/Glen Dee round almost to Brechin – very many miles south and east of Braemar!

As I have very few photos from the walk, I’ll add a few from the near-area’s attractions, Cambus O’ May and Muir of Dinnet.


Cambus O’ May Bridge (above) and the Old Station (below)


Loch Kinord (above) and Old Shielings on Muir of Dinnet (below)

We were dropped off on the back-road of the B976 just short of the Dinnet bridge over the River Dee at a little place called Tombae. On a past trip along this road, I’d noticed an interesting track heading out of the village and wondered where it went. When I’d checked it out later, I saw it headed over the hillside to Glen Tanar. I further saw there was a continuation of the track out of Glen Tanar and up Mount Keen – a Munro we hadn’t done at that point.

A good vehicle track headed south through woodland and then raked up the hillside at a gentle angle in a generally south-westerly direction. After about 2.5 miles and a steeper section, the track passed an incoming track (which had also come up from near Tombae) and then reached a plateau with a small lochan (marked Black Moss on the map). It then contoured to the left of a small summit… at this point, Glen Tanar burst into view and, in the distance, Mount Keen looking dark and sombre.

The track then descended to Glen Tanar, raking annoyingly north-east for nearly a mile above the track we subsequently needed to take back to the south-west again at the bottom of the hill.

Glen Tanar was a lovely peaceful valley and, in the lee of an old ruin, we decided to take a break out of the cold wind and sit in the sunshine for some cake and coffee.

After a couple of miles following the good track up the glen, the track split and our (left) branch, ‘The Mounth Road’, started off up loose stones towards the mountain. The vehicle track ended part-way up the slope and just became a good walkers’ track. It is another couple of miles of ascent before the summit is reached and Richard started to get a bit fed-up – the gentler mountains aren’t really his thing at all… I was fascinated by the wide-open spaces in all directions though – you could see for miles and not a scrap of civilisation – great!

It was a pretty cold windchill on the summit so we didn’t linger long. The good walkers’ path continued down the far side of the hill heading south on loose stones. After another couple of miles of easy-angled descent, the path descends sharply down the side of a steep nose on a good zig-zag to Glen Mark.

Glen Mark is a lovely winding glen, narrow with craggy sides, and I wished we had more time to head west towards the valley head to explore. However, we had a deadline to meet so I’ll have to leave that until another visit. The object I most wanted to see was now in view though – the Queen’s Well. This is a well built for Queen Victoria and the stonework over it is shaped like a crown. I’d seen many photos of it but was pleased to finally see it for real.

There were quite a few people in this glen – probably mainly come to see the well. From there it was around three more miles to the carpark at the end of Glen Mark and we felt it dragged a bit and were pleased to see my mother’s car waiting for us. However, we decided that this side had been the more interesting side to do Mount Keen from.

It was a lovely but long drive to the exit of Glen Esk and then back round to Braemar and we all enjoyed the scenery on the way back round to Glen Dee. Of course, I was most interested in the section of road which passed Mount Battock and Clachnaben…

Stats: 13 miles, 3264 feet of ascent

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10 responses

18 09 2012
Arletha Flewellen

Studying by way of one’s nice content, will assist me to do so sometimes.

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29 09 2012
mountaincoward

I hope you get to do it – it’s a relaxing walk

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2 09 2012
bob

Takes me back a bit.Never been to the Queens well.Mount keen that way has a real empty feel to it I,d Imagine.Passed by the royal bothy once with all the goon show memorabilia on the walls.Maybe that was why Harry was called Spike on twitter.

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8 09 2012
mountaincoward

The top end of Glen Mark/Esk is really great – well worth a visit. Nearer for you too I think?

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2 09 2012
lanceleuven

Great post! And I particularly like the fourth photo of the trees, the colours almost don’t look real. And I’ve never heard of the Queen’s Well before. Looks interesting. 🙂

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9 09 2012
mountaincoward

Thanks Lance – that’s my favourite of the photos too. That place had a lovely feeling to it and I stayed awhile 🙂

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31 08 2012
fedupofuserids

Never done anything in the east, so its always great to see some pics 🙂 Aviemore & the A9 always seem busy and chaotic, I think this puts me off but I must make the effort sometime.

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31 08 2012
mountaincoward

I actually prefer the relative efficiency of the A9 over the westerly roads, although admittedly, the western routes are far more scenic. I love all the Cairngorm/Braemar/Eastern hills myself – they’re my favourites.

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31 08 2012
Paul Shorrock

Great report, Carol. The Queen’s Well is something I’d not heard of, never mind seen! (Off to find ever expanding ‘to do’ list ……) 🙂

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31 08 2012
mountaincoward

Perhaps I’d seen the pictures and info on it from the brochures in the chalet on previous visits…

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