A walk up to Smarts Cairn

Still in lockdown, and with the current guidance of 'remain local' for walks, I packed a lunch and with the dogs in the car, we headed up to the nearby Finella Forest. This is a massive wood and has a number of really good options for walking. I've never been to Smarts Cairn. It's a very old pile of rocks within a forested hill summit. 

According to my GPS, it's about 4.5miles, 1263' of ascent, 1247' descent, and reaches a max hight of 1196'. A tough hilly root using rough mountain bike type tracks.

Parked the car at the remote spot a mile or so from the Fettercairn Road.

A distant Garvock Hill.


Slightly hazy, but could easily make out Craigowl in the Sidlaws above Dundee.

The forest tracks gain a good bit of height.

Left the main track onto a faint dirt track.

This was a real steep grunt in amongst the trees.

Looking back down.

Finally spotted the pile of stones which forms Smarts Cairn. The national record of Scottish Heritage gives the following description:

"A cairn 14ft in diameter and 3ft high, traditionally associated with the slaying of a huge serpent. (No explanation of the name is given.)"

It is 'post medieval' and Aberdeenshire Council describes it as "Cairn; built in memory of a traveller who died near spot"

And interestingly, from the Kincardineshire OS Names Book of 1963:

"A considerable cairn, of stones about 14 feet, in diameter and about 3 feet, in height from the base; situated on the south side of Strathfinella Hill. The traditions, relative to this Cairn are so extravagant, and wild, that none of them can with propriety be given here."

And its note...

"The tradition about this, is similar to the Story of St George and the Dragon, but the monster 
slain at this place was a huge Serpent. The Cairn in all probability is a relic of Druidism, in connection with those on the Hill of Garvock, which are all seen from this place. [Signed] B. Render Corpl R.E. [Corporal Royal Engineers}"


Returned downhill in a southerly direction, popping out onto one of the numerous forest roads. Left the road and followed a dirt path down past the 'Dry Burn' which was in fact bone dry.

Great day for walking.

Spot the spaniel.

Stopped for lunch about 20mins from the car at a fine spot, enjoying two bagels with ham and tomato.


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