Corbett Bagging: Mount Battock via Glen Dye and Clachnaben

OUTDOORS

I am marking a list of Scottish mountains known as Corbetts. There are 222 Corbetts and they are between 2,500 feet and 3,000 feet in elevation. This walk took me to the Corbett further east, Mount Battock, through Glen Dye and Clachnaben.

I walk through Glen Dye.
View of Clachnaben.

Mount Battock Walk from Glen Dye

There aren’t many Corbetts who have a well-defined path from start to finish. Most include plenty of off-the-beaten-track trails, and walkers are often required to navigate a route themselves. Mount Battock is a rarity in that it has a path to the top.

I usually walk Corbetts with my friend Ben or my friend Rob, but the other weekend they were both free and we decided to walk as a threesome. It was their first meeting and from the moment they met, they seemed to like each other and get along well. Rob’s collie Storm also approved of Ben!

Between the three of us, we had a lot to talk about, including our common interest in bagging the summit. This includes Munros, Corbetts, Grahams (or Fionas!) and Donalds.

It turned out that having a lot of conversation is helpful when hiking the trail to the top of Mount Battock because it’s a long walk and, other than the beautiful views, there’s little else to distract you.

First, however, the summit of Clachnaben

Our walk began in a small car park in an old quarry just north of the Aberdeenshire settlement of Bridge of Dye. A path led us downhill at first and through quiet woodland with a mix of trees including Scots pine, Douglas-fir and larch.

The route leveled out as we reached the base of the glen, where we crossed a bridge and turned right at a junction onto a track towards an open grassy area known as Miller’s Bog. The air was still, and when the sun shone, it felt deliciously warm.

It was here that we first saw the great tor that sits atop Clachnaben further on. The sight of the huge rock outcrop is both dramatically impressive. Looking like a great ruined fortress or the dark outline of a haunted castle, the jagged chunk of granite rises steeply from near the ridge above Glen Dye.

It’s a view of the horizon that was impressive enough that we stopped our non-stop chatter and stood still to look up.

Folklore and fact by Clachnaben

It’s not hard to see why the existence of the giant outcrop has become a legend in folklore. A fanciful story tells of two rival giants who were said to be fond of throwing stones at each other. The giants, Jock o’ Bennachie and Jock o’ North, who lived on different local hills, threw a large rock which landed on Clachnaben and became the tor.

In another tale, the tor is called « the devil’s bite » because it was believed that when the devil took a bite out of the hillside, he found it too sour and spat it out on the summit of Clachnaben.

In fact, the tor is the result of natural erosion and weathering of the rock, but even up close it looks otherworldly.

The word Clachnaben derives from the Gaelic, “Clach na Beinne”, which means the Stone on the Hill.

Walking forward, Rob, Ben, and I wandered to the outer edge of another forest. This time the trees were tall pines and the path followed a fast-flowing stream.

Past the plantation, the route turned left and we began the climb to Clachnaben. Granite steps aided the ascent in places, although the path is steep at times and we had short breaks to catch our breath and watch the tor looming ever larger above us.

Up close, the granite is a mottled gray-brown hue, and the rocks show enormous folds and indentations. The steep sides protect one side of the tor, so we follow a rough path to the right and around the back of the rocks.

It’s a short and relatively easy scramble to the top of the tor at 1932ft (588m) where we stop and take in fabulous sweeping views of the wider rolling landscape including the Oxen Craig, Mither Tap and Bennachie hills . We also got to see the Munro of Lochnagar.

Just below, to the northwest, a trigonometry indicated a height of 1,899 feet (578 m), and further west stretched a line of summits, including Edendocher Hill, Sandy Hill, and Badymicks Hill, undulating toward a high point of 2,552 feet (778m) on Mount Battock.

Walking towards Mount Battock

Our destination was the summit of Mount Battock and after taking in the views from Clachnaben we headed towards the trig pillar and then continued on the very sharp and wide track.

The route undulates and climbs steadily over smaller hills, Edendocher Hill and Badymicks Hill, before a final push towards the top of Mt. The last section is steeper, though not as steep as many other mountains in Scotland.

A trigonometric summit pillar sits next to a large double stone shelter.

Thanks to the good weather, sunny but cold, we were able to see many kilometers around. The landscape in south Aberdeenshire is one of rolling hills and mountains and we were able to see the Munros of Driesh and Mayar, as well as Mount Keen, the easternmost of the Munros.

The return route is to follow the path and go back the way you came.

It would be possible to do this route on a mountain bike, but we all agree that it is a great ride in good company and on a day with good weather.

Mount Battock Hike Details

Start/end: Clachnaben Quarry car park just north of Dye’s Bridge

Distance: 25.5km

total ascent: 1075m

Route: Strava and SW Maps.

Bagged Corbetts: 117

There’s a alternative shortest route from Glen Esk.