When you live in Scotland, you need to make allowances for the fickle weather. The forecast is apt to change at the last minute and sometimes you simply have to go where you think it might be drier/sunnier/warmer. This is how my friend Rob and I ended up on the Corbett, Auchnafree Hill, near Crieff.
Having checked a variety of forecast apps and websites for several days, it seemed that the east of Scotland would be better (this is what the majority of sites forecast) and Perthshire seemed to be the safest bet.
We chose a short-ish walking route of 8.5 miles (which could be cut shorter by doing an A to B and back again if the conditions deteriorated). If the weather was to be foul we didn’t fancy being out in it for too many hours.
Added to this, walking Auchnafree Hill, from Loch Turret, would not require a long drive for either of us.
To reach this decision took a fair amount of research and discussion but we met at Stirling for a car share to the start of the walk feeling fairly positive.
It would be a new summit for me and Rob’s third time on the top of Auchnafree Hill.
A walking loop of Auchnafree Hill
The start of the walk is at a generous height of 350m thanks to a car park close to the dam of Loch Turret. It felt like a luxury to be starting from so high up and the first part of the walk headed along a wide track on the eastern shore of the loch.
We felt lucky to be out, walking and talking, and without need for waterproofs. Although there were rain clouds above us, we enjoyed lovely views along the length of the loch, which also serves as a reservoir.
We were also fortunate to spot a bird of prey – possibly a buzzard – and a furry caterpillar.) I am sure that caterpillars are not meant to be out of and about in January.)
Just past the end of the loch, the track turned sharply uphill and the gradient started to steepen. It ended up being quite a tough ascent, although we were still following an obvious track.
After some 1.5km of climbing, at a junction, we veered left and then headed north on to open moorland. Now walking through thick mist, we took a map and compass bearing and aimed to keep a straight line north towards the summit.
We discussed how long it might take us to walk 800m and a height gain of almost 100m and Rob suggested 15 minutes. We arrived in 16 minutes!
We were lucky to see around four beautiful mountain hares, clad conspicuously in their winter white fur.
The higher we climbed, the stronger the wind became and by the time we reached the summit at 789m, the wind was buffeting us and throwing rain into your faces. But, still, it wasn’t as bad as we had feared and after a quick look a the map we decided to make the walk into a loop by following a higher trail back south.
A higher trail back
We took another compass bearing from close to the summit towards a trail and followed this over wet moorland and large peat bogs.
The subsequent track wound like a rollrcoaster along through moorland while we could have descended back to the flatter track along the lochside, we both enjoyed the challenge of the steeper ups and downs.
Passing a number of cairns and then crags just below, we checked the map to see if it would be a sensible idea to descend a steep grassy slope back to the dam and then the car park.
A narrow path through heather and bracken revealed that we were not the only walkers to have chosen to do the same.
By now, we had descended below the clouds and once again enjoyed lovely views of the loch.
Although it had not been the most exciting or challenging walk, it was another Corbett tick for me and the chance for Rob to regain some fitness after a festive period of relaxing and enjoying a little too much food and drink!
We both very much enjoyed the chat, too, and have made a few plans for some great adventures this year.