It’s a week dogged by the low cloud lapping in on the North Sea coast. It might be early summer and as so often this time of the year the land is warming up quickly but the North Sea is still cold and any easterly breeze tends to drag in that low murky cloud over the coastal fringe. Like several previous days, a drive a few miles inland had revealed a complete contrast in the weather and today I was hoping for the same.
It was going to be a bit of a gamble as yet again the weather was dull and murky along the coastal fringe. I had hoped that heading several miles inland that the weather might improve despite the forecast of a cloudy day.
I’m setting off from Arbroath to drive via Brechin and Edzell to reach a rather foggy and murky Glen Esk. The cloud base is only one hundred metres above the valley floor but there seems to be brightness above. Is it just possible that higher up I will be above the clouds? Well I am here now and I am determined not to waste the day. Mount Battock has a good network of approach tracks and I am armed with the local Ordnance Survey Explorer map, compass and a walk description from the ‘Walk Highland’ website to follow.
Mount Battock is the most easterly mountain classed as a ‘Corbett’ in Scotland. A ‘Corbett’ is a Scottish mountain which rises to a height of between 2500 and 3000 feet and must have a drop of 500 feet on all sides. In Scotland there are 222 of them.
From the hamlet of Millden, I’m setting off up a minor lane to the Mill of Aucheen and soon I veer right to pass Muir Cottage with its caged dogs who make my presence known. A good track leads onwards before dropping down to run beside the Burn of Turret. I check that the burn is crossable as on my return route I will need to ford it. I’m now setting off up onto open moorland. What views there were soon close in as I skirt around the eastern side of a foggy Allrey (ridge) and along this section I stop for my morning break in the gloom. The visibility is a couple of hundred yards and the prospects of a clear summit now seem in doubt. I still have a 400 metre climb ahead on what is still a good track. Upwards I trek and after awhile the light above seem to be improving and it isn’t long after that the sun can be seen through the fog. The sound of a tractor toils uphill in the fog some distance behind me whilst a quad bike speeds down the track so I manage to flag down the driver of the latter to warn him of the approaching tractor.
Quite suddenly at around 550 metres blue sky is spotted ahead and within minutes and almost by magic I break through above the cloud sheet. Ahead I have a view up to Wester Cairn, the western spur leading to Mount Battock. The hills to the northwest west soon appear above the clouds but out towards the North Sea it is a sea of cloud with only the Hill of Wirren partially poking through the cloud. As I get higher so the views improve. My gamble has paid off and from Wester Cairn, I branch right to take the easy path ahead to Mount Battock. The 778 metre summit is a good place to stop for lunch. To the south is a sea of fog whilst to the west hills poke above the cloud sheet. It is much clearer towards the Cairngorms which are still covered in large patches of snow. To the northeast, the cloud is clearing to a degree due to a light breeze springing up.
I take a leisurely lunch stop on top of over a half hour but I knew that I will be descending into the gloom again soon. I decide to return via the Hill of Saughs and the Hill of Turret. A good track leads on from the former which I can see in the distance but to get there, I have to descend on a less defined heathery path before passing through some peat hags at the col prior to the Hill of Saughs. Joining the good track the mist is dispersing and as I descend so conditions improve and I can now see the whole of my upward route to the west of me. A peaty track is taken prior to crossing the Burn of Turret passing on the way several well construction grouse butts. Once over the burn I joined my outward route to reach the car.