Walk: Glas Maol & Glen Isla safari

[Approach to Monega Hill through Glen Isla]

Glas Maol is known to winter sports enthusiasts as the highest point of Glenshee's ski area. It's also a Munro: unfortunately one of the ugliest due to the ski lifts scattered across the hillside when approaching from The Cairnwell Pass. But the quieter, longer approach from Glen Isla in Angus misses all of this, instead passing above some of the most beautiful spots in the southern Cairngorms. Monega Hill is a magnificent corner on the ascent, perched high above the two great glens of Caenlochan and Canness, while the return traverses the surprisingly rough ridge to Creag Leacach, another Munro. Save a couple of chocolate bars for the final brutal obstacle of Monamenach. The path over the top looks nearly vertical on approach and it turns out to feel nearly that bad too. The fantastic wildlife deserves a mention: we've never seen so many deer, mountain hare or ptarmigan before even on separate walks - let alone all on the same one.

[Just part of a huge group of deer bellowing away on the slopes of Creag Leacach]

Name: Walk: Glas Maol & Glen Isla safari ★☆☆
Length: 21 km / 13 miles
Ascent: 1140 metres
Main summits: Monega Hill (908 metres); Little Glas Maol (973 metres); Glas Maol (1068 metres, Munro); Creag Leacach (987 metres, Munro); Monamenach (807 metres, Corbett)
Start / finish: Small layby on minor road just beyond Auchavan, Glen Isla, G.R.: NO 193698 / digests until february

Route: Layby - Auchavan - Tulchan Lodge - Monega Hill - Little Glas Maol - Glas Maol - Creag Leacach - Mallrenheskein - Black Hill - Monamenach - Auchavan - start
Terrain: Good tracks in Glen Isla but rougher on the ridge with some steep ascents. Rocky path over Creag Leacach; faint, grassy return track with some wet sections and more steep climbs.
Wildlife today: Scores of roaring stags (rutting season) at various points on the route, hundreds of mountain hares on approach to Glas Maol, lots of ptarmigan on descent from Creag Leacach, sheep.
Weather today: Sunny to start with some cloud building through the day. Moderately windy at the top with temperatures in single figures; a few showers in the vicinity during the afternoon, but none overhead.

[Creag Leacach's bouldery ridge contrasts with the more rounded slopes of the surrounding hills]

Route credit: Walkhighlands

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