There were three more hills that we could have tackled from our position in Glen Esk, but I adjudged that the only one I was unlikely to include on a cross-Scotland route was Hunt Hill (which we visited yesterday), so the remainder were left for another time and southwards we finally headed.
The first stop en-route was Turin Hill, the site of a hill fort/castle, to the NE of Forfar. I'd been unable to locate anywhere nearby to park for this one (although there was a layby relatively close, on the B road, we discovered), so Mick offered to drop me at the bottom of the track and pick me up afterwards.
Had I read the route notes I'd made, I wouldn't have found myself climbing over barbed wire, with a strand of electric fence protruding either side, on my way up. It was only as I stood on the summit, looking back the way I had come, that the instruction of 'continue to the end of the woodland, where there's a gate' came back to me. So, having enjoyed the far-reaching views from the summit (and waved to Mick, who I could see parked up in a layby up the road) I took a slightly longer route back down, to take full advantage of the gates.
Next up was Craigowl Hill, a good handful of miles SW of Forfar. It seems that the majority of people who log their Marilyns on hill-bagging.co.uk approach this hill via the tarmac track which leads all the way to the masts on its summit. However, as exploration of Streetview and aerial photos had failed to reveal a Colin-sized place to park for that approach, instead we went to the car park in the community woodland further W along the road. The result was a far more pleasing walk than the tarmac track would have been. A waymarked trail took us through the native woodland, and after only 200m on an old track, a gateway gave us access to a trodden line on grass all the way to the top. The result was not only a nice walk, but one that was half the distance I'd anticipated (I'd hoped there would be a way through the forest, but had measured a longer route in case there wasn't). It's just a pity about all of the masts and buildings on this top, which otherwise gave fine views down to Dundee and the Tay to the south and snow-spotted hills to the north.
Trig poing on Craigowl Hill, together with a taste of the industrial nature of the top and hopefully a glimpse of the fine views to the north.
The car park in that woodland was so nice (save for the multitude of bags of dog poo; it seems that many people there pick up after their dogs, only to then deposit the bag of poo neatly next to their cars) that it was tempting to stay the night - but the day was young...
... so off to King's Seat we went.
I'd decided that I fancied a linear walk over this one, so Mick dropped me off to the SE of it, and off I went. I soon decided that people don't usually tackle this hill from this direction (probably because of the lack of parking for this start point), and thus there was no trodden line. Well-advanced nettles stung my legs through my trousers before I weaved through blooming gorse, following which I picked my way up a section of gorse-graveyard, before finally yomping through heather.
It was the worst heather of any hill of this trip, being very old, very woody and knee-deep. I was certainly glad to reach the gleaming trig at the top.
A trodden line led me away from the summit and towards Black Hill, and I thought the rest of my outing would be relatively quick and easy. It wasn't. In fact it was hard work, through yet more heather, with a bit of bog and some very uneven path thrown in. I strongly suspect I had lost the line taken by most people. It was only when I climbed up to the top of Black Hill that I found not just a well-trodden line, but boot prints - and finally, the rest of the route was easy.
Another walker, heading towards King's Seat himself, was encountered on the hill fort to the SW of Black Hill, and from there it was just an easy trundle down hill to find Mick patiently waiting exactly where I expected to find him.
The next on the list, Moncreiffe Hill (lying to the S of Perth) wasn't on the agenda until tomorrow, as I had rather hoped that its car park would be suitable for a night stop. My hopes were dashed when we found it to be too sloping, so the hill was brought forward to today. To my surprise, Mick chose to sit this one out, so I was on my lonesome as I trundled up to the higher of the two hill forts and back, which I achieved in just under 35 minutes. It's a very good (and fast) path which has been engineered to wend its way gently up, forming one of a number of waymarked routes.
So, four hills and four excellent view-points on this very clear-aired day. I'll happily take more of the same tomorrow, please...
Distances: Turin - 2.3 miles; Craigowl - 2.8 miles; King's Seat - 4 miles; Moncreiffe - 1.9 miles.