Walk: A hike for the Keen

Aberdeenshire | Aboyne | Full day walk | ★★★★

[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 of walkers 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!]

đź“Ś Walk: A hike for the Keen ★★★★
Start / finish at car park at minor road end, by Glen Tanar House, 3 mi southwest of Ballater, G.R.: NO 474956 ///skate.stags.reboot

▶ 29 km / 18 mi | ▲ 1120 m | ⌚ Full day | Tough
Summits: Mount Keen (939 m, Munro); Gathering Cairn (790 m) | Features: Glen Tanar NNR; Half Way Hut
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.

Route & map

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


Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track

On our visit

Wildlife: Forest birds in Glen Tanar; annoying flies following us along Water of Gairney.
Weather: 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]

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