Location: Perthshire/Angus

Grade: Easy hill walk

Distance: 3 miles/5km

Time: 2-3 hours

I wanted some photographs of the southern reaches of Glen Shee but needed a bit of height. A look at the map showed what appeared to be a conical shaped hill jammed between Glen Shee and Glen Isla. It was called Mount Blair.

The name of the hill is interesting. Some suggest it refers to a clearing while others say it means ‘plain hill’ or even ‘hill of the plain’.

Certainly its western slopes lack any real discerning features so ‘plain hill’ could be justified.

The eastern slopes, above Glen Isla, are made a little more interesting by the scoop of Corrie Vanoch, which is littered with ancient tumuli – cairns, hut circles and field systems.

There are also standing stones and hut circles on the southern slopes of the hill so it’s clear that people have made use of the fertile qualities of both Glen Shee and Glen Isla for thousands of years.

Although we were tackling the hill from what is possibly its least interesting aspect we reckoned the north slopes would offer us the best views, and we were right.

Leaving the campervan at a layby on the B951 we walked east to find a gate on the right that gives access to a field.

Once through the gate we girded our loins for what turned out to be a straightforward but relentless climb to the 744m summit.

The footpath, initially a bit on the muddy side, improved as it left the fields and grooved its way over heather slopes, climbing steadily with wonderful views in all directions.

‘Busk, busk bonnie lassie,

And come along wi’ me,

And I’ll tak ye tae Glen Isla,

by bonnie Glen Shee’

The old song came to mind as we climbed, reminding me of the last time I sang it in the company of Margaret Bennet from the School of Scottish Studies and Ian McGregor, grandson of the renowned traveller and ballad singer, Belle Stewart.

Ian had told me it was one of the favourites of his family when they met together for the berry-picking at Blairgowrie.

The great champion of the travelling people, Hamish Henderson, one of the founders of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh, lived for a while in Glen Shee and had his ashes scattered on Ben Gulabin, a hill that dominates the southern approaches to the Cairngorms National Park near the Spittal of Glenshee, a hill that we could now see clearly from our lofty vantage point.

After some steady climbing the angle of the slope eased off and we could see the transmitter mast that dominates the summit. It didn’t take us long after that, and soon we were coorying down in the summit shelter beside the large cairn and trig pillar, a flask of tea bringing a comforting warmth in the chill of late winter.

To the north the great swell of the Cairngorms dominated everything else. Glas Tulaichean, Ben Gulabin, Glas Maol and the hills above the Caenlochan and Canness Glens were all snow-capped and made a formidable barrier.

To the east the hills were less dramatic, high plateaux split by the long glens of Isla, Prosen and Clova. It was just a great place to be. Even the transmitter mast didn’t spoil our pleasure. It’s difficult to argue about these things when we all rely so heavily on mobile phones.

Cameron McNeish


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth).

Distance: 3 miles/5km.

Time: 2-3 hours.

Start/Finish: Layby on B951 at GR: NO153642. Leave the A93 at Lair, and follow B951 through the hamlet of Cray to a park at a layby by a plantation just beyond the road that leads to Dalnaglar Castle.

Public transport: None to the start.

Information: Blairgowrie TIC, 01250 872960.

Route: Walk E along the road for about 400m to a gate on the

right. Go through the gate and

into a field that is often muddy. Follow the obvious track uphill through the field. After some distance it leaves the field and climbs up through heather slopes. Continue uphill with widening views until the transmitter mast comes into sight. From here the angle of the slope eases off and it is an easier walk to the broad summit. Return the same way.

Due to current restrictions, we are running our favourite previously published walks. Please follow the

Scottish Government’s coronavirus restrictions, see www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19