Walk: A hike for the Keen

[Mount Keen from upper Glen Tanar]

Mount Keen is Scotland's easternmost Munro and a popular one, seeing less rain than most of the others. Fans of the craggier west might decry Mount Keen as a dull, rounded lump, but the views over Aberdeenshire, Angus and the Cairngorms are hard to beat; the view of Lochnagar's moody coire is particularly fine. Now, which route to take? The start amongst Glen Tanar's stunning pine forests isn't the closest trailhead to the summit, but it allows the most scenic approach. At the top you'll probably be greeted by crowds who started from Glen Esk to the south. We think the northern approach is quieter and superior; if you're not looking for a long walk, then take a hike... elsewhere.

[Half Way Hut in Glen Tanar provides shelter on a wet day, although it's less than halfway from the summit!]

Name: Walk: A hike for the Keen ★★☆
Length: 29 km / 18 miles
Ascent: 1120 metres
Main summits: Mount Keen (939 metres, Munro); Gathering Cairn (790 metres)
Points of interest: Glen Tanar NNR; Half Way Hut
Start / finish: Car park at minor road end by Glen Tanar House, 3 miles south-west of Ballater, G.R.: NO 474956 / skate stags reboot

Route: Car park - Half Way Hut via Glen Tanar north bank - cross Water of Tanar on bridge before Etnach - cross over twice more before ascent to Mount Keen - bealach between Mount Keen and Braid Cairn - Gathering Cairn - track junction at G.R.: NO 431899 - track between Clachan Yell and Water of Gairney - rejoin outward track in Glen Tanar - start
Terrain: Excellent track in Glen Tanar, gravelly for some of the steep ascent to Mount Keen. Intermittent, narrow path towards Braid Cairn become even fainter until reaching the track beyond Sauchen Stripe. Then more good tracks for remainder.
Wildlife today: Forest birds in Glen Tanar; annoying flies following us along Water of Gairney.
Weather today: A bluebird scorcher: temperatures in the shade approaching 20°C and appreciably higher in the sunlight. Strong winds on the exposed tops kept it comfortable high up. Single remaining snow patch on Mount Keen.

[Good tracks make for good progress on the return above Water of Gairney, but are a bit of an eyesore]


Route credit: Scotland off the beaten track

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