Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mayar - The fabulous Fee

During the last ice age 10,000 years ago, Scotland was even colder than this summer and covered by glaciers and a thick layer of ice. As the climate warmed, the glaciers retreated and as they did so they sculpted our mountains into the forms that we see today. There are few places where this ancient glacial action is so clear to see as in the beautiful Corrie Fee.

Corrie Fee is tucked away at the head of Glen Cova on the eastern edge of the Cairngorm plateau. My dad and I wandered through as we climbed Mayar, the Munro whose flank was gouged out by glaciers to create the corrie. The trail to Corrie Fee initially followed Jock's Road, the old walking route to Braemar. It passed through woods where the low morning sun had cast long tree shadows across the trail and chased away early strands of mist. Above the woods, the bellow of stags in their autumn rut carried across the hills.

The trail soon shook off the forest and stepped into the spectacular  amphitheatre of Corrie Fee. The walls of its huge bowl were bounded by steep craggy slopes that sprouted gold and scarlet rowans. The waters of the Fee Burn cascaded over the lip of the corrie and sparkled in the rays of the sun that had now pulled itself above the lower ridges. The burn tumbled down over rocks and when it reached the bottom, it slowed and then meandered across the corrie floor, never quite able to make its mind up about which direction to take.

The lower corrie was rucked up by the ridges of old moraines, glacial debris now covered by heather. Its floor and the woods below were dotted with huge boulders called erratics which were picked up by glaciers and then left stranded in their current positions when the ice melted. There are still hints of this former arctic climate in Corrie Fee which is special for its alpine flora as well as its moutain architecture. The season was mostly over but in October it was surpising to see summer foxgloves still in flower.

Our narrow trail zig-zagged steeply up the back wall of the corrie and emerged onto the plateau, leaving us an easy stroll to the top of Mayar. The view stretched westwards over layer after layer of hazy hill. As is the way in the Cairngorms, the rounded hills didn't hint at the hidden dramas of places such as the fabulous Corrie Fee.

Fact File
Start: Glen Doll car park. Unusually for me this was a trip by dad's car on account of there being no public transport.
Map: OS Landranger 44
Route: From the car park, follow the forest walks signs. The route to Corrie Fee initially uses Jock's Road but splits to cross the river by a bridge. The track becomes a path, leaves the woods and meanders up through the corrie. At the top of he corrie it's a straightforward walk south to Mayar. For the descent we continued east from Mayar on the trail that links it to Dreish and then picked up the Kilbo Path, the old route that links Glen Clova to Glen Prosen. It descended the Shank of  Drumfollow. Once back in the trees follow signs back to the car park.

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