Up and around Glen Damff

By Andy Crawford

Glen Damff is a relatively small glen that nestles quietly, and quite unknown, among the Braes of Angus. Lying to the north of the Backwater Reservoir (maintained by Scottish Water) between Glen Prosen to the east and Glen Isla to the west, its stream joins that of Glen Taitney before entering the north end of the reservoir.

This route starts in the cul-de-sac of the unclassified road that follows the east side of the reservoir northwards to Glenhead Farm. Park responsibly to allow passage of the farm and hill vehicles that use the tracks here.

Take the wide track that leads westwards past Glenhead Farm ' where the drive gates are adorned with the wool mark logo ' before bearing north west past the derelict cottage at Barny onto open hillside beyond.

There are several fords to negotiate along this section, some of which could pose problems following particularly wet periods. At GR 247643, however, there is a good bridge crossing beyond which there is a division of the path. Keep right here, then left at the second division to follow the track that runs near, and relatively parallel to (within 100 to 200 metres) the eastern edge of the forest (being felled in October 2003).

Follow this track, which is intermittent in places, up the steady incline to the high, but relatively insignificant top of Craig Duainie. The track bears westwards around the summit peat for a short distance and then through a gate in the deer fence (under construction in Otober 2003). It then drops for about 20 metres before swinging sharp right, north eastwards along the western side of the fence. The route undulates here and eventually reaches its highest point of 663 metres/2,175 feet.

The view north eastwards is dominated by the rounded summit of Dreish (to the right) and the more craggy Mayar (left) and farther northwards to Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch and Lochnagar. It is also possible to make out the Lomond Hills in Fife behind, to the south. On a fine day the vista is all encompassing.

At GR 244696, just before Craigie Thieves, there is a gate and another, lower, fence running off right, southeast, at almost 90 degrees to the one being followed. Follow the vague path that leads along the line of the fence and improving, only very occasionally, into a Land Rover track. Stay with this to where the fence turns away sharply to the left, eastwards, and go directly ahead following more intermittent path, up to the summit of The High Tree. Continue from here on the wider, better, track to the cairn that marks the summit of Bad Buidhe.

Go through the gate and descend, still on the good, wide, track through the grouse butts and into the valley formed by streams that make up the Hole Burn. This leads nicely to the Kylebank/Glenhead Plantation. At the edge of the plantation, turn down right across the grass for about 20 metres to a lower gate that leads into the trees by a gate onto a soft, grassy track running parallel to the fire break, and leading to Hole. The higher track through the dense trees reaches the same place but is rougher.

From this somewhat insignificant location, a rough road leads back around the base of Cuilt Hill to the start.


Distance 10.5 miles/16.9km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 44 or OS Explorer sheet 388.

Start/parking Park in the roadside spaces or on the grass verges near Glenhead Farm, GR: NO 260629, at the northern end of the unclassified road that follows the east bank of Backwater Reservoir. There are no facilities here but there are public conveniences in the car park area before the point where the road crosses the dam at the southern end of the reservoir and part way along the road leading from the dam to Glenhead Farm. When driving, take care to avoid the young game birds that wander aimlessly about on the road.

Grading In good weather conditions, this is a relatively straightforward route suitable for walkers of most abilities. However, as there is neither shelter nor refuge throughout the route, proper protective clothing must be carried, along with a map and compass. The ability to use these effectively must also be ensured! Sheep graze the hillsides therefore dogs must be kept on a lead.