So, I’m a little behind with my write ups as I’ve been having a few technical difficulties, but I’m back now and bringing up the rear.
We had some visitors recently, Mick and Gayle came to stay for the weekend at the start of November and I planned a couple of walks for them and some fabulous weather, ‘cos I’m good at that, apparently.
I usually get myself in a terrible tiz, planning a walk with other walkers, I’m always concerned that, if it’s a walk I know, then they won’t enjoy it as much as I do, or if it’s an adventure, it’ll be a miserable disaster. I don’t know why I take the responsibility so seriously, especially as neither situation has ever become reality. Especially not with Mick and Gayle, as they enjoy walking in all sorts of environments and are always up for an adventure! So I was quite chuffed with myself when the morning of The Adventure dawned and I didn’t feel sick.
It was indeed a beautiful day that dawned, despite the weather forecast suggesting a wet afternoon was in prospect, and we set forth for the Dava Moor with cake in our daypacks and smiles on our faces.
David neatly abandoned the car about a mile north east of Huntly’s Cave by the side of A939 and The Executive decided it was time for second breakfast. I handed out the homemade date and walnut granola bars (homemade granola, made into granola bars…) and there was much munching as we stood in the chill breeze before finally setting off. Having cleverly lightened my load before leaving the car, we tackled the first obstacle, just feet from the car. A locked gate, but it was quite a new one and quite sturdy, so with just a bit of whinging (me) we heaved ourselves over (me again) and took the track that runs roughly perpendicular to the Dava Way at this point. (Exhausted now, big word).
This track had upulation from the start, which was not very welcome right at the beginning of the walk, but did get the blood pumping to most parts (apart from Gayle, who may have been suffering from a lack of fingers by now) still, we puffed and panted our way up (…me) and then negotiated some mud and sheep and a few buildings. It’s always the buildings. And then the woodland. Trees, always a bit tricky. Gayle and I didn’t think this part of the track looked particularly well used, but we were sort of pleased to see the stile in the deer fence, even if it was of the rather tall variety. It was at least in good repair. Shortly after, the track seemed to become better used, but for no particular reason. Then there was the next huge stile, which was again successfully negotiated. Even when the conversation turned to the subject of spectacular buts and those in view ahead of us were less so, no one fell off the stile.
Before they made their get away
Discussing spectacular buts
The terrain around here was rather lovely. Rolling yet craggy hills, nice views of the Cromdale Hills and the Cairngorms beyond, good track under foot, I was quite pleased! Could have done without Mick deciding he needed a comfort stop just as I turned to get the camera out for a shot of the views… We didn’t go for a poke around the crags to find the Other Huntly’s Cave (the first one is a popular spot with climbers and easily accessed from the road) but kept going until The Executive decided it was time to stop and we found The Perfectly Placed Lunch Hut, at almost exactly the half way point.
I’m good at this.
Even better, it was an unlocked hut, so in we went to sit on benches around a large table with lovely views through the open door as it swung gently in the breeze. Most of us ate all of our sandwiches before forcing down some absolutely disgusting chocolate fruit brownie (yuk, horrible, all chocolatey and gooey and eugh!) and then some yummy fruit loaf. Flasks were emptied, noses powdered and then we were ready for The Next Bit.
Ruins at Badahad
Lunch hut with a view
The backside of the Knock of Braemory
This was probably the only bit that had given me any real cause for concern, a ford. There was no knowing, as ever, quite what to expect and there had been an amount of rain of late, but I needn’t have worried, it was perfectly doable, so long as nobody helps you by lengthening your poles first (I like them short and stumpy, leave them alone!) We all managed safely across and I didn’t even skewer David as I hurled my poles across for him to borrow, a bonus.
There was more upulation, not too sharp, but a bit persistent, although we didn’t notice it too much. At least, David and Mick obviously didn’t as they sped into the distance whilst Gayle kindly ambled alongside me as I hauled my sorry carcase along the track. A mild moment of interest as we happened across a chap with his dog and a hawk and probably a couple of ferrets in the boxes by the side of his truck. He waved hello and we waved back and walked on. He very kindly approached us slowly from behind as he drove along the track later, giving us time to find a hole to stand in and let him by.
It didn’t take too long to reach Dava, where we left our little adventurous route and joined the Dava Way. It felt very strange to be heading south on the Dava, as I’m used to doing most of it heading north, apart from one tiny section I sometimes join on the Altyre Estate and follow to Clashdhu. However, I got over my discomfort by chatting away continuously (as we had all the way round) with Gayle as Mick and David disappeared in to the distance until they could not be seen at all. Still, they weren’t going to get lost…
This creepy guy was back at the car (looking back to Gayle in the distance, she’d been inspecting a gateway…)
Thoroughly enjoyed this little adventure, totally different landscape from the bleak and barren looking west side of the Dava Moor and in excellent company as ever.
Approximately 12.4 miles and 1,173 ft total ascent (said there was upulation!!) in just over 5 hours including lunch, fording, climbing and photo opportunities, so not bad.
During the previous little sojourn, The Executive had decided the walk for Sunday need only be a little stroll and I had a Plan.
Sunday dawned a little less nice looking and The Plan was put in to action. The car was again neatly abandoned by David, this time in the car park at Cloddymoss in Culbin Forest. I had done this route (or maybe just parts of it, and maybe in a different direction) but a while ago when I was in charge and would definitely would not have been paying attention. After a pleasant enough path through the forest that spit us out onto the road, I decided to avoid too much of it and headed off along a wooded track to a farm. For some reason, I then decided we shouldn’t take the obvious track to the right to avoid the buildings and that we should instead take a muddy (?!) path to the left and through a dodgy gate. However, we did get to the track we definitely did want into the woods at the back of Brodie Castle. It was plain sailing from here.
The way through the woods
Looking back to where we should have come from, on the left there…
Heading to where we want to be!
The backside of Brodie Castle
We took a right and headed to the big pond where there were droves of people (that arrived in cars and walked a few yards) admiring the swans and ducks. We hung a left straight to the level crossing, which we crossed, then as we met the A96, we turned right and paid a visit to Brodie Countryfayre, where I happened to know they’d just opened a new extension to the restaurant.
We had a very civilised lunch on proper seats at a proper table indoors and then got to visit a proper powder room too. After briefly making like tourists, we went back to our preferred environment and continued our stroll. Back over the level and into the castle grounds to take a wiggly path, visiting Rodney’s Stone before popping back onto the road again, briefly.
…like I said
Educating themselves (apparently, they can read)
At Dyke we popped onto a Moray Core Path to Loanhead, but en route spotted a trig I’d mentioned to David might be an easy nab. “There’s a bit of fence here without barbed wire!” said Mick as he hopped over it and held the top wire down, “I’ll come with you!” he said, inviting me to hop over to join him. So I did. Quickly followed by Gayle and David. We made our way across a slightly muddy ploughed field to find the trig (that does not appear to be on the highest point) Photographic evidence of the bag was taken, then we headed straight down hill to the road, intending to find the easiest bit of fence to hop back over. We found a very easy bit, that other people appear to have hopped over before us, but mid hop something caught David’s eye. Something was attached to the wire of the fence, looked a bit like a modern dog collar tag, the sort that screws…a Geocache! We found a pen, signed the Geocache and put it back, quite chuffed with an Unintentional Trig and Accidental Geocache.
A trig-pointing we will go
The evidence that we found it
And looking back to the trig on the horizon from the Accidental Geocache.
A surprisingly pleasing little stroll on a grey but dry day.
Approximately 5.74 miles and 369 ft of total upulation.
Thanks for the company and do call again!!