Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Tuesday 21 May 2024 - Around Braemar

On another sunny morning we simply strolled around the environs of Braemar. 

We crossed over the River Clunie beside the Fife Arms, then passed the 'When Soak Becomes Spill' stainless steel sculpture sourced by the Fife Arms' owners, opposite which a wooden footbridge led us back across the river.

Then we enjoyed a lovely riverside walk, soon reaching the confluence with the River Dee. 

Sand Martins were active on the banks of the river, and there were good views as far as the Cairngorm summits. 

Eventually the Linn of Dee road was crossed and the path rose to a view from a yellow bench.

After a while we reached a road leading into Braemar past the Highland Games stadium and a Duck Pond. (No ducks today!)

We had earned coffee and cake in The Bothy café after this 5km saunter.

Then we went past the War Memorial and the engine from a crashed wartime aircraft.

This time a green footbridge saw us over the Clunie.

As we rose on the Queen's Drive track, good views opened up, with the summit tors of Ben Avon clear on the horizon.

Of today's many flowers, I selected Wood Anemone for a photo.

Back in Queen Victoria's day this was the site of a cottage where the queen used to pause for tea with the residents, who at that time had a nearby trout pond.

There were more views to the Cairngorms before the path descended past Lion's Face. 

Our route back to Braemar took us past the only remnant of wartime trenches that survives in the area.

Our path offered a final viewpoint from the Cromlins (the crooked fields), before returning to Braemar after a further 8km.

Here's our route - about 13km, with 240 metres of ascent, taking around 4 hours.

What a lovely way to spend a morning.

Monday 20 May 2024

Monday 20 May 2024 - A Clais Fhearnaig Circuit

We drove up to the Linn of Dee. Sue set off on her bike to Derry Lodge, from where she would climb to the 1182 metre summit of Beinn Mheadhoin, and enjoy another wild swim on the way down.

Meanwhile, I drove on to start an excellent circuit from the Linn of Quoich, pictured below.

Looking upstream from the bridge from which the above picture was taken, there's a Punch Bowl. The associated legend is that the Earl of Mar poured strong spirit into the punch bowl, which was then used to toast the Jacobite cause in 1715.

My walk continued up Glen Quoich, with views towards the towering summit of Beinn a'Bhùird. Given the morning cloud, I was obliged to substitute the missing mountain view with a curtain of Caledonian pinewood branches.

After an eroded section where the path has collapsed into the river (the river bed was easy to walk on today, with the river level low), a left turn onto a narrow path led to the end of a small loch, Clais Fhearnaig. 

It was a great place to sit with a mug of coffee, enjoying the changing light on the hillside and the water, from which fish were jumping. 

The resident stonechats were keen for me to leave, so I headed on past an upper lake that was full of weed. The only person I saw before getting to Glen Lui was around here; they disappeared up the hillside, avoiding any contact.

Soon I was on the descent to Glen Lui, where more hikers and cyclists were encountered. 

Here's a view to Derry Cairngorm from Glen Lui.

I lunched in the sunshine at this next bridge, but didn't cross it. My route went on forest tracks to Claybokie. 

After Claybokie, a good riverside path led past Mar Lodge and on past the Victoria Bridge footbridge and back to the car. 

Here's my route - 17km with 250 metres ascent, taking a very leisurely 5.5 hours.

Then I returned to the Linn of Dee to meet Sue after her successful Munro bagging and wild swimming outing.

I took many pictures of flowers today, of dubious quality so not reproduced here. The more prolific flowers were the following:
Bog Asphodel 
Wood Anemone 
Lady's Mantle 
Common Dog Violet
Marsh Marigold 
and various unidentified others

Birds included Song Thrush and Wren at Mar Lodge, Willow Warbler on Craig Leek yesterday, Oyster catchers by the river, Skylarks, and more.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Sunday 19 May 2024 - Craig Leek

Wild pansies grow near our front door.

After breakfast Sue, Simon and I drove to the nearby Keiloch car park (£3.50) and set off on a circuit around Craig Leek, a modest 635 metre summit. 

Soon we passed a sculpture reminiscent of Henry Moore.

A suitable spot for elevenses sported a fine view.

After a while, we took a narrow path to the 635 metre summit.


My selfie was not altogether successful!

Here's Sue, returning to the track around the hill. Despite it being a rather grey day we got good views over to Morrone, though the Lochnagar and Ben Avon peaks were mostly draped in cloud.

Towards the end of our outing we passed this pretty estate building. It looked almost empty inside - perhaps a lunch hut for estate workers? (See comments - used by Girl Guides.)

A very docile toad narrowly missed being trampled.

Here's our route - about 10km with 350 metres ascent. We were home by 2pm ish after being out for around three hours.

Later, and I'm afraid the evidence was eaten before the camera came out, a visit to the Co-op was rewarded with three huge cream cakes (they didn't fit into the boxes). It took a moment for me to realise they were being given away - until I understood my error, the shop assistant seemed quite upset that I didn't want any cakes. They were delicious. Apparently they had been over ordered for a function and needed to be given away to avoid wastage. (I missed a trick here - should have taken a big bag of them to Challengers on the campsite.)

Saturday 18 May 2024 - Alness parkrun and a trip to Braemar

After an hour and a quarter in the car from Ullapool, we easily found a jolly band of 72 parkrunners in Alness, on the eastern coast.

It was a lovely 5km course.

"And they're off!"

Through woodland, then a riverside section.

All the way to the end of a wartime pier that stretches into the Cromarty Firth.

This is the turnaround point, with a bollard called Eileen.

Full results are here - Sue and I were pretty slow after our energetic week in Ullapool. 

After that, coffees and brunch in the Picante café, with some very friendly runners, before restocking in Inverness and heading to Braemar via Tomintoul and a pause to admire the scenery.

Thornbank Cottage awaited our arrival, and Simon, the owner, turned up for some chicken tartiflette and an evening of wine and natter.

In Braemar I bumped into 84 year old Jean Turner, and rather younger David Brown from Baltimore. Unlike a number of much younger TGO Challengers, the heat had not caused them to retire from the event!

No WiFi here, so it's back to basic diary entries for a few days.