Auchnafree Hill (789m)

Saturday 7th July 2018

Distance: 20kms - Duration: 7hrs 15mins - Group Size:

Walk Leader - Idris

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The first two photos, opposite, set the scene for this walk; a fine track throughout, and rolling heather hills with great views eastwards into Perthshire and towards Dundee. No doubt the quality of the track is down to the plethora of grouse butts around the hillsides, the tracks providing the means whereby the ATV's bring those so inclined for a days sport!

Our route would take us on an anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the ridgeline and hills lying to the east of Loch Turret, the highest of which is the Corbett of Auchnafree Hill, some 789m in height. Departing the car park beside the dam, we headed southeast on the gently rising track before making a sweeping turn through 180 degrees to come alongside the Barvick Burn flowing from its source in Coire Barvick, as yet unseen but which soon begins to fill the skyline as we gained height and made the first significant climb of the day to the un-named minor top at spot height 551m. An un-named minor top it may be, but with the air clarity and high cloud base, the views from the track, which just skirts below this top, were extensive, and we could clearly identify the twin summits of East and West Lomond, some 45kms to the southeast in the historic Kingdom of Fife.

Now atop of the ridgeline, the track rises more steadily and the Blue Crags at the head of Coire Barvick begin to come into view, and it is easy to see from where they get the name, as even in today's bright sunlight they took on a dark blue, almost foreboding colour against the skyline. The track steepens again as you approach Choinneachain Hill, and it is well to observe that it is necessary to leave the main track and take a lesser path to climb the few metres higher to the large cairn which sits at the 776m high point directly above the crags of Coire Barvick. It is reputed that this cairn commemorates King Kenneth III of Scotland, who died in battle along with his son as they fought their cousin Malcolm over the crown in 1005 at Monzievaird, nearby to where the current Glenturret Distillery stands.

Curiously there is no cairn marking that actual summit point of Choinneachain Hill, at 787m, it is necessary to cross some very rough ground, scarred with peat hags to take a stand at the actual summit point, and given the hags we had to cross in what was a very dry summer, it is easy to see why this summit is very rarely visited, as, in wet conditions, there is every chance of taking a very wet dip into a very deep pool of wet peat. We returned from the summit to the main track a few hundred metres away to where a second, large cairn stands, the reason for this cairn is unclear, but it stands on a prominent point with fine views over Loch Turret towards Ben Chonzie.

Just under 2 kilometres of winding, twisting track, dipping in and out of a few deep gullys and we were at a junction with a short spur heading directly uphill, and onto the summit of Auchnafree Hill, and a fine broad summit at 789m high, gaining Corbett status. Leaving our final summit of the day, we retraced our steps back to the main track and made our descent towards the upper reaches of Glen Turret at the head of Loch Turret, an area littered with moraine humps, easily identified as we gazed down upon them from the heights above the glen. A short break at the head of the loch, and we were then off for the final steady walk along the undulating shoreline of Loch Turret and back to our cars at the car park alongside the dam.

A fine walk, fantastic view, great weather and the best of company - Brilliant day, thanks Idris.

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