Deep in the heart of Angus lies an extensive swathe of forest which is home to all manner of wildlife including the elusive capercaillie. Montreathmont Forest and the adjoining Montreathmont Moor, once a royal hunting ground, is now a commercial conifer plantation and the network of tracks and paths throughout make it an ideal area for walking and mountain biking.
This walk follows a route on the west side of the road which cuts through the heart of the forest. Enter the woods about half a kilometre south west of the house at Powsoddie. Follow the track as it curves left to enter a long avenue of conifers, bordered by gorse bushes, thistle and wild grasses. Continue along the path until a junction is reached, turn right and head down another evergreen avenue which brings you out, through a metal gate, to a minor road. Head left and follow the road to emerge at a junction near a small cottage.
Continue left again and walk along the roadpassing the farms at Wood of Aldbar and Blackden. Stay on the road as it rises past open fields to reach the farm at Pitkennedy. Turn left and enter the woods once more on a gravelly path. The roof of a white house should be just visible above the treetops in the distance. About half way along this path towards the house a crossroad junction appears. Go left and head along a Land Rover track back into the heart of the forest.
If you are lucky you may hear the guttural croaking cry of the capercaillie but visitors are asked not to try and search for these magnificent birds during the lekking (displaying) season. Conservation organisations are concerned that disturbance may adversely affect breeding success. Other birds to be found in the forest include buzzards, owls, woodcock, cuckoos and all common woodland birds. Stealthy walkers can also expect to come across red and fallow deer at dusk and dawn.
Stay with the track as it kinks right and continues in an easterly direction to emerge onto the road at a metal gate. Turn left and enjoy a short walk along the tarmac to where you left your transport.
Other interesting facts about Montreathmont include the discovery last century by David Waterson, artist, painter, etcher and mezzotint engraver, of a species of wood wasp, hitherto thought to exist only in fossil form, in the ancient forest.
Montreathmont Moor was also home to the salubrious Toddle Inn during the 1800s. Local legend tells of a woman known as Bawbee (half a penny), possibly so named because of her mother who ran a public house, known as the Toddle Inn, somewhere on the moor.
She was known as Black Beer Bawbee from a brand of beer she made herself, reputed to have been ''spruce juice'' derived from wood bark, that cost a ha'penny.
The tracks through Montreathmont are also used by husky racers in the winter and the wooded environs are also said to be the home of a mysterious Angus ''big cat'' which makes an appearance every now and again!
Distance 5 miles/8km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 54.
Start/parking Trackend half a kilometre south west of house at Powsoddie. GR: NO 570550.
Grading A level walk suitable for all ages and abilities on track and tarmac throughout. As the forest is run as a commercial plantation, access may be restricted in certain areas during logging operations and all warning signs should be
adhered to. Dogs can run free but should be kept in reasonably close
quarters so as not to disturb ground nesting birds.