Map: OS Landranger 17 (GR073305)
Distance: 10.5 miles (17km)
Time: 6.5 hours
Terrain: tracks, hill paths and pathless hillside
Although Morven isn't the most accessible of hills for most people due to its location in the far north-eastern corner of Scotland, this is one of its attractions. A Corbett, its great conical mass represents one of the most distinctive features in the Scottish landscape, rising out of the waterlogged flatness of the Caithness Flow Country to a height of 2316ft (706m).
Morven is a compelling hill and its ascent, especially when combined with the similarly shaped but smaller neighbouring hill the Maiden Pap, provides a memorable day.
Start at Braemore, from a small parking area opposite the telephone box at the end of the singletrack road which leaves the A9 just before it drops down into the town of Dunbeath.
Cross the bridge over the Berriedale Water and follow the track past the houses at Braeval then along the base of the Maiden Pap to where it ends after two-and-a-half miles, opposite the old building at Corrichoich. Morven rises impressively ahead and a col at the foot of its steep eastern slope is gained by crossing some burns and following as best as possible a vague ATV track. Once on the hill, a rough path can be found which leads up past a minor granite tor on to a fabulous summit and a fine viewpoint.
Retrace your steps to the col then climb uphill on to the rocky top of Carn Mor (1565ft/477m) before traversing over, then up on to the granite tor-topped summit of Smean (1670ft/509m). Descend steeply to the north-east then cross the intervening flat ground to reach the Maiden Pap which is climbed via the obvious line on its southern flanks. This leads steeply to a narrow col from where a final short climb gains yet another splendid summit (1588ft/484m).
Return to the col then drop down steeply to the north on a path to regain the track of the outward route beside a forestry plantation then walk for about one-and-a-half miles back to the start.