Thursday, March 10, 2016

Creag na Criche

A long time ago, in a fit of the 'folly of youth', I was once heard to say something along the lines of, "If it's not a Munro, it's not worth climbing". How little I knew. The smaller hills that surround Perth allow some wonderful short walks, some great views - and have a charm all of their own. It's not that when I am pottering around on a little hill, that I wouldn't far rather be clinging to some rugged ridge in Wester Ross, with the sea 2000feet below me, and towering peaks everywhere else. It is simply that there isn't always the time and money to travel to such far-flung sensations, and that the real choice is to stay at home and waste a day on chores, or to get out and see the hills, and breathe the air.

Last Saturday, with our young daughter off maintaining her hectic social calendar, and our sons showing no interest in leaving the house; we escaped for a few hours, and headed for one of Perthshire's little hills. Little Glenshee is well-named, as it is rather little in comparison with it's namesake. It is a place we both know fairly well, having both driven and cycled there in previous summers. The glen has a road which loops in one end and out of the other, making it a popular route for Perth cyclists wanting to clock up some rural miles. At the end of the loop is a ford over the Sochie Burn, which is a nice splash on the bike in dry weather - but could be a real problem when in spate. A small car park next to the ford, allows access to the hills, as does a footbridge, which spares walkers the discomfort of water-filled boots which wading the ford would inevitably cause.

Driving northwards into the glen from near Chapelhill, a ridge of hills fills the skyline, with Creag na Criche forming a distinctive summit directly behind the ford. A huge stile over a deer-fence, leads to an obvious bulldozed track zig-zaging through the heather. Once this track levels out, and the views broaden out, a small barely distinct footpath turns left away from the track and heads westwards, just underneath a series of small rocky crags - the tallest of which is Creag na Criche (456m). 

Obney Hill

Beinn a Ghlo

Obney and Birnam Hills

We had a stunningly clear day, and sat in the summit, picking out the mountains all around us; the Paps of Fife, Obney and Birnam Hills, Beinn a Ghlo, Ben Vrackie, Deuchary Hill, The Glenshee Hills, Farragon and Schiehallion too. 

It is perfectly possible to do a little circuit, descending over Glenshee Hill to Little Glenshee itself, and walking back along the farm track to the car. We chose instead to sit on the summit for an hour, and soak in the incredible silence, and doze on the heather - before returning by our route of ascent. 

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