Sunday, 24 February 2013


Having warned Gayle and Mick against using all the good weather before May, Saturday morning we awoke to a cloudy, overcast day and even a dusting of snow. They are solely responsible.

We were helped out of the house at a good time by Aedan, who had to be dropped off in town for a D of E Youth Voice thing. After chatting with one of the other leaders, Lee, for a while, we decided it was high time we set off towards Glenlivet in order to park the car at Mains of Inverourie. Gayle had sent photographs and weather report from Carn Diamh last week with the promise of good walking. I have been here before when I walked with Laura whilst Santa was on holiday, but today the plan was to ascend the way Laura and I had finished and do the Graham we didn’t do, Carn a Ghille Chear at the eastern end of the Cromdale Hills. Then we would turn westwards and trundle along the ridge for David to tick off the other Graham that I’d done already, Creagan a Chaise, before descending the way Laura and I had ascended last time.


Looks simple from here

It’s an easy track to follow all the way to the bealach where it continues on over the ridge and down the other side into Cromdale, but we went off at a bit of a tangent for a quick yomp over the heather towards Carn Eachie on the way to our first goal. It was fairly easy going despite being a bit tussocky as the ground was quite frozen so there was no bog to plunge into when you missjudged the heather. In the distance we soon spied the herd of reindeer that Laura and I had had a surprise encounter with last time, so tried to skirt round the side giving them a wide berth so as not to disturb them. I expected them to behave more like a herd of deer and disappear off over the ridge. I was a little surprised when they actually headed towards us and in fact, we soon found ourselves surrounded by these wonderfully inquisitive creatures. They are so cute!


Ben Rinnes


Carn Diamh


On the horizon


Being surrounded


Getting closer


Quite up close and personal

I know David was wary of the antlers and quite wisely so, but there was absolutely no sense of fear or threat from these lovely animals, I really enjoyed this unexpected experience.

We managed to extricate ourselves from the midst of the herd to pass by the cairn on Carn Eachie and made our way to the first Graham of the day.


With Ben Rinnes behind

Off we went again, this time heading west through intermittent snow showers along the ridge in the hope of finding a sheltered dip in which to deploy the emergency bothy and have lunch. The reindeer obviously recognised we were the same people as they made no attempt to say hello again, they knew we had no food. The cairn on Creagan a Chaise is clearly visible all along the ridge, but having been there before, I did not find this encouraging. I know that this particular cairn is huge and as it looked quite small at this point, it had to be a long way a way. Quite disheartening. We seemed to walk an awful long way, passed by Carn Eachie again and continued down to the bealach. My tummy was fair rumbling before I finally piped up “Are we going to stop for lunch?” A spot was picked, we crouched inside our yellow glowing shelter and enjoyed tomato soup, cheese rolls and fruit mince slice. I hoped nobody would spot us and phone the emergency services thinking someone was in trouble.

After this welcome break we set off again. We decided to miss out the next lump as there was no cairn there anyway and no obvious path and instead  took the more direct route which skirted round to take in the next cairn. It was in fact quite hard going and I think it may have been a shade too late for lunch as my mood dipped. Quite dramatically. I became grumpy and stroppy and my whinging soon degenerated into tears of frustration. I was given short shrift and told “If you have that much energy to waste, just get on with it!” or words to that effect.

Eventually the route we had taken levelled out and we again picked up a path of sorts. I cheered up. The ground was more even and although there were patches of snow and ice, it was not going to slow us down now.


Looking back to Carn a Ghille Chearr



(I’d had the camera in my chest pocket, so may notice there was a little misting on the lens)

We were on the home straight now. The cairn on the second Graham of the day was beginning to look bigger. We continued on a slightly less vague path at quite a speed now and soon found ourselves crossing a short stretch of snow on the north facing slope leading up to the cairn. Here we met the only other person we saw on the hills all day, a gentleman and his adorable black Labrador.


The way ahead


Just a bit of snow


Where we’d been


That there is a little patch of blue sky!


A substantial cairn


Despite the clouds, the views were stunning (although the photographs don’t capture it well


The plaque on the Jubilee Cairn

David took a bearing from the cairn, we picked a point of reference and off we went to find the track home. The downhill yomping was much easier and less frustrating than the earlier yomping and we soon picked up the track that lead over a couple of burns and then down to the road at Milton leading back to the car park before it got (really) dark. When I checked the track we had taken on the GPS, David had rather cleverly lead us directly to the track without and faffing, what a clever boy. Thankfully I’ve been to his school of navigation, so have great faith in my own abilities. I hope.

12.7 miles, 2540 ft total ascent ascent, 2.3 mph average, roughly.

Despite my unfortunate mood dip, we had a brilliant day, hard work but very enjoyable. There was a seemingly healthy grouse population, I eventually lost count of the number of mountain hares we saw and the reindeer were an absolute delight. Just brilliant.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Lovely day

So I got one of those lovely surprise emails the other day, entitled “A bimble on Friday?”

Unsurprisingly the answer was a resounding “Yes please!”

I may have made a few suggestions as to where we could go, but we had to wait for a little man first to come and fix my downstairs powder room. He was on time and very quick and after busying ourselves making a few sandwiches, drinking tea and discussing marmalade, Mick, Gayle and I were soon our way to park Colin at Hopeman. From there we set off on the Moray Coast Trail, heading east.


Looking west


Still looking west


The lookout

This is a very pleasant trail with often stunning views. The magnificent Moray coastline is a well kept secret and I have walked quite a lot of this trail, sometimes heading east, sometimes west but I haven’t yet done the bit between Lossiemouth and Buckie. The Buckie to Portsoy stretch is especially stunning with good views of the cliff nesting birds fulmars and puffins in the breeding season. I’ve only walked this stretch in shoddy weather but still loved it.

Today was another stunning day with barely a breath of wind, blazing sunshine and clear blue skies except the cloud gathering over the far coastline of the Black Isle.

We walked and chatted. We paused and photographed. We walked and chatted some more and then lunched on the cliff top just before Covesea. I was treated to a slab of home made tea loaf, all the more impressive for its production on board Colin. Yum yum.


Looking east!


Long golden beach stretching west…


…to east

Soon we were walking the long golden beach from Covesea that leads all the way into Lossiemouth. I impressed myself by finding the Harbour Lights tea room, I’ve only ever skimmed the edge of the town before and it’s bigger than I thought. The cafe served us some of the best coffee I’ve had in a long time (I’ll still be awake next month) and we chatted some more as we waited for our TTS taxi back to collect Colin.

According to Viewranger 7.12 miles, 2.4 mph average and 616 ft total ascent. A thoroughly marvellous day, thank you for inviting me!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Good day, sunshine!

We have had some visitors this weekend which has been a treat!

Mick and Gayle arrived Saturday after David and I had spent the day at a D of E Supervisor training course.

We spent a very pleasant evening after our meal drinking wine and swapping stories of a walking nature and other things. It may have been gone midnight before they retired to Colin who was parked on the drive, but I can’t remember.

This morning we assembled in the kitchen for a natter when we should have been assembling kit, but we arrived at the car park at the Dallas Dhu distillery and were walking by 10.45 am, only 45 minutes behind schedule. Acceptable we thought.

The walk we had chosen was a variation of the Girly Walk I did in September with the local girls. This meant that after walking some familiar tracks I had to take the group on a little mystery tour on tracks I’d never been on before, in the hope of meeting the route I’d done previously from town.

As luck would have it, and after a few pauses to check location and make the odd decision, we eventually met the right track in the right place and continued happily following the course of the River Findhorn south towards our treat for the day, Logie Steading and the Olive Tree Cafe. We may have had a short rest along the way which included cake.


The River Findhorn


Gayle and Mick before the sun moved

I even managed to avoid the rather rough firebreak we’d walked last time in favour of a path that was a bit rough in places but at least had an obvious track.

We were soon sitting in the sun drinking a variety of hot drinks, debating whether we had the cheek to eat our sandwiches. Before Gayle returned from the powder room, the rest of us had decided we were that cheeky and discretely tucked in to cheese rolls and chocolate biscuits.

We didn’t tarry long as the sun had shifted round the corner and left us in the rather chilly shade. As we left the Steading I had a crisis of confidence and couldn’t commit myself to where the path was that I wanted. After a bit of fumbling and repeating a few steps, we set off up the right path uphill to meet and cross the A939 Grantown on Spey road, again. From here we headed off up the farm track to Peathillock and then north on to the Dava Way and back towards the Distillery. After a pause for more cake, when someone happened upon us who remembered Mick from way back, we left the Way and took a more direct route through Altyre Estate and back to the car.

The sun shone and here were fabulous blue skies all day with occasional glimpses of distant hills and the Moray Firth. A brilliant weekend, great company and a really nice walk. What more could we have asked for?

There were definitely a variation of stats for this walk, but I like the idea of 13.1 miles, 2.8 mph average, 1503 ft total ascent and 5 hours 57 minutes total time taken. It’s close enough!

Thanks for visiting us and please come again!

Monday, 11 February 2013


I went on my usual brisk stroll this morning. It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies, sunshine, mild, birds singing in the trees and

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The water containers were only recently dumped (between last Thursday and this morning) and who ever dumped them felt the need for a further deposit whilst they were at it as there is obvious evidence of human waste right beside the containers. Lovely.

There are old tyres and various other items besides the take away litter which has more than likely be left by the wildfowlers who frequent the area during the season.

As you can see, I photographed the evidence and emailed it to the local authority who replied very quickly to say the waste team had been requested to investigate.

The clean up took a while to happen last time I reported fly-tipping, but the email response was much quicker this time, I hope the clean up will be too.

I’m still working on the theory that rubbish attracts rubbish.

And I still find it incredibly irritating! I pity anyone I catch in the act (so to speak) when I’m having an off day…