by Ian
18th November 2021

David Livingstone discovered the source of the Zambezi. I have now emulated him having found, or at least walked to, the source of the South Esk.

Looking up Bachnagairn
Bachnagairn waterfall

My first visit to Glen Doll in five months saw me draw into the car park around 9:45am. Boots on and devices activated, I headed up the bank of the South Esk for about a mile before crossing the footbridge and going through the avenue of fir trees. 40 minutes out and the flat ground came to an end and the climb up Bachnagairn began. It was a steady climb up a wide path to reach the forest.

Shortly after there was a right turn over a bridge to Broad Cairn.

Looking down Bachnagairn
Broad Cairn

My route took me straight ahead up the ever steeper path. The forest ended and the climb continued, veering left away from Broad Cairn which dominated the skyline on the right.

The well made path reduced to a narrow track and the ground was ever more boggy as the climb continued. The increase in wind speed made it difficult to stand.

Loch Esk
From the top of Bachnagairn

As I reached the shoulder of the hill ahead Loch Esk nestled below me to my right. I had a quick panic – was I on the wrong path? I followed a rabbit trail to my left. After 50 yards I decided the diversion wasn’t a good idea. I retraced back to the path.

Eventually Jock’s Road lay ahead.

Jock’s Road

Junction with Jock’s Road
Looking up Jock’s Road

I have issues with Jock’s Road.

Jock’s Road surface
Top of Jock’s Road

First, it isn’t a road; just a narrow boulder strewn trail. Second, it neither comes from or goes to Jock. Anyway, like it or not, Jock’s Road was my route back to the car park so I turned left and headed towards Glen Doll. As it wasn’t quite lunchtime I continued on to Davy’s Bourach. This was refurbed a couple of years ago but I still wasn’t tempted to holiday there. 

Davy’s Bourach
Back of Davy’s Bourach

A cheese and pickle sandwich, a mandarin orange and two paracetamol and lunch was complete. I set off again down the path. It was very uneven and my ankle wasn’t enjoying the experience. The wind tried to blow me down the hill and I fell a couple of times as I slipped on some small loose stones.

Jock’s Road looking at Glen Doll Forest
After the forest

I was glad to reach Glen Doll forest. A quick drink and then it was two miles to the car park. The forest gave shelter from the wind, and the fallen pine needles were a comfortable surface to walk on, for which my left ankle was eternally grateful.

As I emerged from the trees the rain started to fall, and it was a relief that I only had another couple of hundred yards to the car. It was just after 3pm and already the light was fading. It felt like the end of the year as far as further long walks were concerned.

A nice one to end the year.