Springtime In The Glens

It’s a crisp January day here in Dundee, so we thought we’d join Willie for an unseasonably chilly April visit to Glen Shee.

It’s the end of April and winter seems reluctant to go. A cold blast from the Arctic has turned the hills to white again and closed the snow gates at the Spittal of Glenshee. It’s hard to believe I was over this road only four days earlier, enjoying fine spring-like weather in Glen Taitneach. Most traffic aiming to cross the Cairnwell above the once notorious “Devil’s Elbow” will keep to the main road over the MacThomas Bridge and bypass the Spittal, but those who turn off to cross the old stone bridge, visit the wee kirk and take time to explore the glen that strikes off to the west may be pleasantly surprised.

Not only is the scenery exceptional but there’s also something we rarely find these days – a chance to escape all that man-made noise. When I set off from home in the morning, I was actually making for Braemar for a walk in Glen Quoich. I never saw Braemar that day. What was to be a short break to stretch the legs at the Spittal soon had me skirting the foot of Ben Gulabin and heading north into lonely Glen Taitneach.

A few hours on, with only the rushing waters of the Allt Ghlinn Taitneich for company, and I was almost at the end of the track, at the start of the steep climb to Loch nan Eun. I dare say there may have been a few fairies keeping an eye on me. Glen Shee is, after all, the glen of the fairies. Just ask any local how the kirk at the Spittal came to be built there and you’ll find out a thing or two about the Shee fairies.

The bleating of lambs added to the hint of spring. I was in no mind to pay any heed to the grouse and their cries – “go back, go back, go back”! In the end, my half-hour stop turned into a nearer ten-mile trek! Needles to say, by the time I’d returned to the car, it was time to head for home again. Glen Quoich would just need to wait for another day.


Willie Shand