Dreish and Mayar are considered a couple of the easier hills in the Munro list and are pretty local to us so both Stacey and myself have done them before, but our son had not done Dreish, as he said didn’t have the energy earlier in the year on a 2 day walk and wildcamp in the area. We therefore decided to do these two as part of our summer challenge, but in reverse from the normal route which starts by going up Mayar via Corrie Fee.
We have previously seen the Scorrie route on Dreish, which basically goes straight up from the base to the top up the east ridge. There is a bit of information on the route online , not much but some and it does feature in a small ‘mountain walks in the cairngorms’ book that we have so we thought we would give it a go. None of the route descriptions made it sound impossible.
We arrived in the car park nice and early and set off, looking up at the Scorrie as we went and thinking, wow that’s steep, maybe we’ll just go up the Kilbo track instead. We thought we had made our minds up and started up the Kilbo track through the freshly felled woodland. We reached the final point where the two routes split and looked up. From up close it didn’t look too bad. The top looked ‘just up there’ and it looked pretty straightforward.
Maybe we had got cocky and overconfident over the last week, or maybe we just wanted to get to the top, but for whatever reason we decided to give the Scorrie route a go. I led us off the path to cut across to join the route we had chosen and we made relatively quick progress to begin with. As we reached the ridgeline it started to steepen. And steepen and steepen. It was pretty tough going and basically pathless up very steep grass and rock. As we ascended we realised that this route was actually as steep and nasty as it looked from the carpark, but we were already far enough up that going back would have been as bad as going on, so we decided to push on. We made slow progress with me keeping a close hold of our son and Stacey dealing with her vertigo which seems to have recently put in a re-appearance having not been around for a number of years.
Whilst Stacey and myself were really not enjoying the route it was a different story for our son, who was his usual half spidermonkey self. The steep ground meant not many deer or sheep spent much time on it so it was covered in blueberry bushes. Our son took great pleasure stopping every couple of steps to pick a few and scoff them down. At one point he saw a purple/blue bird poo and exclaimed ‘wow do you think mine will be that colour?’ and at another point Stacey looked up the hill and saw his blue lips. Initially she thought he was so cold his lips were blue and really started to worry until he exclaimed that he was enjoying the tasty berries.
Eventually, after focusing a lot on the step immediately ahead of us, we broke onto the flatter summit plateau with great relief. From there it was a simple walk up to the top, but it didn’t feel simple as we had used up so much energy getting ourselves up the Scorrie route without incidence. We would not recommend the Scorrie as a great route up Dreish, particularly with a 5 year old or if you have a spot of vertigo.
After summiting Dreish we made quick progress over to Mayar and down towards Corrie Fee. The descent into Corrie Fee is also steep, but is on a well made path and was pretty easy after the route up. In my opinion Corrie Fee looks more spectacular looking downwards than up so I really enjoyed this bit of the route. We got the inevitable heavy shower here (it is summer after all) and were glad to reach the bottom of the corrie and start making our way back on the much flatter terrain.
From there on it was a straightforward walk back through the woods to get back to our car and the end of another good day’s hillwalking.
Looking back on the route we realised that we may have underestimated the difficulty of it. We should have gone with our initial gut instinct but got away with it by keeping calm and getting it done but were well aware once we were committed that we were pushing our comfort zone with our son. Interestingly he was perfectly happy on the terrain, really not seeming fazed by the steep ground we were on. We won’t be going back to the Scorrie route in a hurry, but over time it has become one of the memorable moments from our summer challenge. It’s odd how sometimes it’s the scary moments which you fondly remember afterwards, but it is always important to remember to remove the rose-tinted glasses and remind ourselves that we don’t want to end up on terrain like that with our son in a hurry again.