Having had a quiet end to the week last week and enforced sports shoe shopping on Sunday, I didn’t have to spend anytime this morning persuading myself out for a longer stroll under never-ending clear blue skies. I didn’t want to travel too far out of town as I wasn’t prepared for a long day, so I parked at Dallas Dhu Distillery and set off onto the Altyre Estate.
It was a lovely warm day and even though I was actively trying to slow my pace (I failed as I got further into my walk) I hadn’t got very far before I needed to stop and remove a layer. I set off again wearing just my t-shirt under my windshirt, just to keep the breeze off my arms.
It’s quite pleasant woodland walking through this local estate, with quite a lot of history and interesting wildlife. They also don’t seem to mind walkers and anyone I’ve ever met there has always been friendly.
The estate is littered with little bits of history
The pond, with resident swans
I wandered on passed the house and took the path round the side. It gets much quieter on these paths, the dog walkers don’t tend to make the effort to go this far and I don’t usually meet so many people. It was along this little stretch I inadvertently tried out the claims of my new Olympus Tough to be shockproof. After a quick check, the camera appeared to have only suffered a few minor scuffs and turned on and off normally. Phew. I soon found myself at the little ford that I crossed most recently with Mick and Gayle last summer, only this time the trees and undergrowth have been removed to clear the little footbridge, so that was the route I took this time.
The bridge and the ford
Not a difficult paddle
Shortly after the ford, the path turns sharply uphill and bends round to meet High Drive Wood. A couple of years ago when I first walked this track, there were magnificent clear views over the estate to the Moray Firth and to the hills beyond. Now the beautiful views have to be carefully snatched by finding a handy tree stump to stand on. I’m such a dare devil! The track is also usually a major mudfest, as is quite a lot of the estate to be fair, but currently the track is incredibly dry, a sign of our dry, mild winter this year.
Shiny silver birch
Large blue skies
It was as I was taking photographs along this track that I noticed a problem with my camera. It would turn on and take photographs which I could review, but if I turned the camera from landscape to portrait to take a photograph, the screen would fade to black. It would however still take a photograph. I was cross and upset and this is probably what led to my gaining pace at this point in my walk.
The usually muddy track
The muddiest it got
The track eventually crosses one of the remaining bridges over the dismantled railway now maintained as a long distance path, the Dava Way. I have walked the entire route of the Way from Grantown on Spey several times and although I love the route that it takes, the change in landscape and environment, I hate the first part of the Way underfoot, as far as about Dunphail. It is the remains of a rail bed, quite literally, and as such is quite unpleasant to walk on I find.
Bridge over the Dava Way
I’m usually on the Way going under the bridge
I crossed this bridge and then followed the track as it turns and leads down onto the Way. I then continued on the Way passed Gallows Hill Wood and Woodside back to the distillery.
Another sign of how dry things are, this pit is two feet deep and usually full of dark, stinky water
In the distance, left of centre, Rafford church. On the horizon, the ruins of Blervie Castle
…spoils the beautiful, but low, bridge wall
The woods were, as usual, alive with wildlife. There was a Greater Spotted Woodpecker drilling on a tall tree, just feet from the track I was on. A dear little Wren, scolding me from a nearby tree, a charm of chattering Goldfinches and countless other birds, singing their spring song. It was a lovely day for a stroll.
Approximately 6.7 miles and 817 ft ascent.