Driesh and Mayar are neighbouring mountains located in the south-east corner of Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Both mountains are over 3000ft (914.4 metres) high, which places them amongst the 282 ‘Munros’, Scottish highest mountains. The duo makes a great day hike in summer, however due to their rounded shape and (mostly) gentle slopes they’re just perfect for winter adventure! We believe they well deserve being placed amongst best winter hikes in Scotland!
We have already conquered these ‘gentle giants’ twice, both times in winter. Each time we loved the experience; hence we recommend the Mayar and Driesh walk for wintry conditions. Even with snow covering the ground the hike is relatively easy to navigate in good weather conditions.
Our favourite Mayar and Driesh route runs thru Corrie Fee Nature Reserve, a bowl-shaped rugged hillside.
Continue reading to find out more about the hike to Driesh and Mayar! We’re quite sure that by the end of this post you’ll be planning your wintry excursion already!
DRIESH AND MAYAR HIKE, FACT SHEET
- Height: Driesh 947 masl, Mayar 928 masl
- Total time: 6–8 hours depending on depth of snow cover (5 hours in summer conditions)
- Total distance: 14 km
- Parking: large car park at Glen Doll Ranger Centre (‘pay and display’), facilities include toilets and rubbish bins (directions)
- Level of difficulty: 3 – summer: easy hill walk, unmarked paths. Winter: navigation may be tricky in poor visibility.
- Mayar and Driesh weather: click here for latest Glen Doll munros weather forecast
- Which map: Ordnance Survey OL53 Lochnagar
How to get to Mayar and Driesh trail head
Trailhead of Driesh and Mayar hike is located at Corrie Fee car park, at the Glen Doll Ranger Centre. Despite being a rather large car park, it tends to fill up early (especially on nice days) hence we recommend arriving (and starting the hike) early.
Driving to Glen Doll is straightforward; however past Kirriemuir the road B955 becomes smaller. At Glen Doll, it’s not much wider than a single track.
Getting to Mayar and Driesh trail head by public transport is a bit tricky and can be expensive as buses run only as far as Kirriemuir (from Dundee) and the remaining 30 km / 20 miles would be a taxi journey.
Hiking trail to Mayar and Driesh – 4 options
Driesh and Mayar munros can be conquered either together, or on separate visits. Below we listed all 4 options of hikes:
Option 1: Mayar and Driesh via Corrie Fee (described in detail in this blog post)
Option 2: Driesh and Mayar via Corrie Kilbo, return the same way
Option 3: Mayar only: way up via Corrie Fee, return via Corrie Kilbo
Option 4: Driesh only: both ways via Corrie Kilbo
Hike to Mayar and Driesh via Corrie Fee
Both times we hiked to Driesh and Mayar we picked days with amazing weather forecast, and this greatly added to the experience. But it also meant that we had to reach the Glen Doll car park early in the morning, to grab a parking space, as they tend to get filled rather early!
On our second visit to Glen Doll, we realised that the temperature at the glen must have dropped well below zero previous night; the low ground was snow-less but frozen solid. Oh, what a chilly morning it was!
Leaving the warm comfort of our car, we felt the fresh cold air biting our cheeks and hands. Without any delays we layered up; happy to have taken merino wool base layer and down jackets!
Despite the popularity of Mayar and Driesh mountains, the hiking trails are not signposted. There are only a few signposts, giving the general direction from the car park, but otherwise the trails in Glen Clova and Glen Doll area are unmarked.
At first we briskly followed a well maintained forest track, signposted to Corrie Fee. As soon as it passed Glendoll Lodge, we turned left, crossed a small bridge and followed another forest track. Only this time we felt the flat part was over, and we started climbing up.
Already well warmed up by the height gain, we tried to avoid frozen puddles and slippery icy bits along the way, but on many occasions it was impossible. We then had to cautiously walk over ice, careful not to slip!
Completely focused on keeping our steps steady, we suddenly realised that the forest track changed into narrower trail and finally became a path.
That was very good news as we no longer had to negotiate smooth slippery surfaces! Instead, we skipped the hazardous sections simply by walking on the heather and grass, along the path.
Corrie Fee can be described as a bowl-shaped, steep rugged wall at the end of the glen. Its sight could possibly be intimidating for some, but honestly, there’s nothing to worry about. With every step towards the imposing steep slopes, we realised that their severe look melts away.
In fact, when we started climbing the snow covered Corrie Fee we felt that it’s much easier than we anticipated judging by the sight of it! Having said that, we feel we should add that there are stone steps constructed to help climbing Corrie Fee wall. However, as much as they may greatly help in the summer, we felt that in wintry conditions they were a bit hazardous. The steps were partially covered by snow, partially iced and we had to be extra careful during the climb.
At Corrie Fee we finally fully entered the winter wonderland. Yes, lower ground was frozen alright, but pretty much snow-less, however as we progressed higher we were wading ankle-deep and then calf-deep in unbroken snow.
Along the way up Corrie Fee we past a couple of small frozen waterfalls!
We got up Corrie Fee in no time and soon faced a gentle cone of snow-capped Mayar in the distance before us.
Surprisingly, Mayar’s summit turned out to be much further than we thought it was, it was difficult to judge the distance in all-white nearly shapeless landscape, and we felt that it was still quite a walk to the top. It also was a bit of the struggle, as the snow was unbroken and deep in paces. Negotiating snow drifts and stumbling upon snow filled dips took some effort, but it also was fun!
Summit of Mayar is a spacious gentle bump marked with a small cairn (pile of stone). It provides open view for miles and miles in all directions, with silhouettes of other Angus mountains as well as The Cairngorms.
Also, Driesh can be seen to the east, but in fairness it’s still a bit of walk towards its summit.
We felt very lucky during the hike to Mayar, not only we hardly met anyone along the trail, we had both summits completely to ourselves and only came across other hikers nearer Driesh.
What is more, we spotted a fog-bow just over the summit, a very unique phenomenon indeed! To be honest, we really enjoyed out time on Mayar and spent there enough time to get Bea’s hood frozen!
It was high time to move!
Thankfully, due to the fact that the ridge between Mayar and Driesh is known to be a windy place, the snow covering our path was harder, partially frozen. We didn’t get stuck in snowdrifts as much as on the approach to Mayar.
Initially walk from Mayar towards Driesh is gently downhill, only when we eventually arrived at the paths junction near Shank of Drumfollow (what a fancy name that is!) we faced an uphill section.
From this point we could either descent to Glen Doll car park, or continue further along the hill ridge, to Driesh. Of course, we opted for Driesh visit!
That meant we had a short, but steep climb ahead. It may look hard, but after about 200 sweaty metres, the gradient eases and the trail continues along gently rising, spacious ridge.
Summit of Driesh reminds a plateau, and one would struggle to pick the highest point. Luckily, there is a trig point and a prominent cairn which also serves as a makeshift wind shelter.
‘Wow, time flies!’ said Bea, catching a glimpse of her watch. ‘We better move on, we don’t want to be surprised by nightfall, do we?’
As we retraced our steps to the junction at Shank of Drumfollow, we turned right, following a path on the eastern side of the slope. It gently descents to Corrie Kilbo and disappears into the spruce forest.
This descent path is very popular as it makes the easiest ascent route to Driesh, hence it’s highly likely you’ll find the snow well broken by many hikers who walked it before you. However, this path is narrow (see photo above) and depending on the depth of snow cover, the descent can be easier (you can use other walkers footprints / foot holes in deep snow) or harder (thin snow cover patches mixed with iced sections).
Be careful once you reach the forest; despite being well visible, the path is eroded in places, also tree roots stick out in several places. Should you have to walk thru the forest at dusk (or after nightfall) a good head-torch would be of great help.
We managed to re-unite with our car just before nightfall, tired, but very happy to have done such a rewarding winter hike! We simply loved the snow, blue sky and a little bit of adventure!
Having only changed the boots we drove to the nearby Glen Clova Hotel and bar, enjoyed the well-deserved homely, hearty meal!
Driesh and Mayar hiking map
What we loved about hiking to Mayar and Driesh
We stand by it, Driesh and Mayar are perfect mountains to be conquered in winter. They’re a relatively easy walk (in good weather conditions) and popular with hikers. The due makes a fantastic introduction to winter hiking in Scotland!
Mayar, Driesh and Corrie Fee wild camping and nearest accommodation
There are countless good camping spots along the Mayar to Driesh ridge, as well as Corrie Fee area. However, one thing to remember is that the two munros can be a bit windy sometimes.
Sadly, overnight parking is not allowed at the Glen Doll Ranger Centre car park.
*Level of difficulty explained: 1– easy walk, mostly flat 2-easy hillwalk, good path 3-moderate, possible some steep sections 4-long hillwalk, possibly some scrambling involved, possibly pathless 5-difficult, possibly pathless, long, requires technical skills