Scotland: Take a hike through Neverland

Peter Pan author JM Barrie was born in a Scottish landscape that is far from fairy tale, says Mark Rowe

As the chill hand of autumn tightens its grip, at least in Scotland, the Cairngorms become a mournfully magnificent location.

This is a superb walk, though a long one, which takes in a magnificent ridge high above Glen Clova, one of the five valleys that make up the Angus Glens north of Dundee. Some deciduous trees will be hanging onto their leaves but the conifers remain robust; fence posts make vantage points for buzzards or tiny wrens, and look to the high ridges and you may spot one of the Glen's two pairs of golden eagles. Most of the route is on paths and roads and is walkable in all but the most dismal of conditions. Another attraction is that the Glen is just 10 miles north of Kirriemuir, birthplace of Peter Pan author, JM Barrie. Next year sees the 150th anniversary of Barrie's birth, which will be celebrated with a programme of special events in and around this old market town.

The walk begins at the Clova hotel in the small village of Clova. Follow the eastern arm of the B955 for 1.3 miles until you reach Marchburn cottage. Here, walk through the weathered gate and head across the field (there's no path) to the bridge, using a stile to cross an electric fence. The bridge crosses the River South Esk and you then bear left following the purple routemarkers along the field edge, turning right uphill to reach the road. Here, turn left and walk for 1.9miles along the road, passing the boundary stone signalling you are leaving the Cairngorms National Park. To the east are the classical, glacial pudding basin hills, ground out and smoothed down during the last Ice Age.

Shortly after passing Wester Eggie House, bear right following the sign for the Minister's Path for Glen Prosen. Go over the stile and follow the broad track through the forest, ignoring a path after 300 yards and keeping ahead to pass through a gate.

Take either of the two paths in front of you (they merge further up the hill) and wind your way up the heather moorland, the wonderful ridge walk lined up tantalisingly to the south. The path weaves back and forward making for the fence line. At a fingerpost sign keep ahead, signpost Glen Prosen, and pass a hut on your left.

Shortly after the path moves away from the fence it splits and you take the unsigned left-hand turn making for the ridge. This path is marked on the Explorer OS map but not the Landranger.

Follow the grassy path as it winds its way past the grouse butts up and over Cairn Leith keeping the fence on your left and drop down to a fence that cuts across the path at right angles to pick up the stony track as it climbs the Hill of Balbae.

The path drills directly along the Sneck of Lapshalloch and up the Hill of Couternach – at 512m (1,679ft), the highest point of this walk – before making for the Craigs of Lethnot. You'll get glimpses of the Airlie monument, a sandstone tower, conspicuously perched on a hilltop in the middle distance. The path drops down across the Sneck of Corinch and up once again to an unnamed summit, with glimpses of the sea to the east beyond Arbroath. Here the path and fence turn left, headed for the hilltop known as The Goal. Just before reaching it you cross a fence by a stile and briefly bear left along a thin path flanked by heather before turning right to rejoin the fence path. After 300 yards turn right and follow the path (the fence again on the left) as it makes for the Airlie monument, dropping downhill into woods.

Keep ahead, either via the gate or ladder stile, and then exit the woods through a large gate and follow the grassy path up to the Airlie monument. The tower, fitted with mock cannons, is not a folly but a monument from the present Earl of Airlie to his grandfather, who died in the Boer War.

Follow the path downhill into the pine forest as it snakes its way through the canopy. When you reach a second waymarker, the path splits and you keep ahead, taking the left-hand track. Follow the yellow waymarkers as they wind back and forth through the forest for half a mile before finally emerging by magical, lonely Cortachy cemetery.

Follow the paved lane and bear off taking the yellow waymarkers again, to eventually drop down to the road where a path continues along the verge for 400 yards before you follow the road to the walk's end, in Dykehead.

Compact Facts

Distance: 13 miles

Time: Five–six hours

OS map: OS Explorer 388, Lochnager, Glen Muick and Glen Clova and OS Explorer 381, Blairgowrie, Kirremuir and Glamis.

Getting there

Mark Rowe stayed at Glen Clova hotel (01575 550350; clova.com) with rooms from £90 B&B. This walk was recommended by Jane Andrews of Glentrek (01575 570801; glentrek.com) a company offering guided walks in the Angus Glens.

Crosscountry trains (crosscountrytrains.co.uk; 0844 811 0124) operates services to Dundee. From here the best option is to hire a car. Glen Clova is very remote; you'll need transport back to your accommodation at the end of this walk.

Further information

For more walking ideas visit visitscotland.com/whiteinvite

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices