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Walking Holiday in Scotland

Ballater Walking Festival or Ballater Walking Week - May 2007

We travelled to Ballater, first by taxi to Luton Airport, then EasyJet to Aberdeen, then bus to Aberdeen town centre and finally bus from Aberdeen bus station to Ballater.  The place we were staying was called the Netherly Guest house and this was about 100 yards from the bus stop.   For one week approx 100 walkers come together at Ballater and participate in organised group walks each day.  There are easy, moderate and strenuous walks to choose from.  You need to book in advance as there are limited placed on the vehicles available.  Approx 15 to 25 people is each walking group. We found the details here.  Various local guides helped.

Aberdeen bus station where we arrived from Aberdeen airport and caught the bus to Ballater.

Netherly Guest House, where we stayed during Ballater Walking Week.

Typical walking route along tracks across the fells.

A stream or burn, one reason you need waterproof boots for walking in these areas.

Saturday: On the Saturday morning our mini bus set off about 8 miles north to the "old military Road" at map reference NJ 279 063.  The walk was downhill initially to the north west, crossing Burn Tornhaish at a recently restored Military Bridge.  Then on, slightly upwards towards Delavine, alongside the River Don and past Delachuper.  We had lunch sitting by a bridge as used in the brochure cover photograph.  Continued north west reaching A949 road where we turned left towards and then back just before reaching Corgarff Castle.  Back up along Cock Burn and round Ordgaraff to rejoin original route.  Very strong winds all day.  Occasional but negligible showers and some sun.  In the evening we went along for a reception at the golf club and met up with Geoff at 6pm.

Small bridge on the old military road, where we had picnic lunch, as used on the walking holiday brochure cover.

A larger bridge, also on the old military road, as construced by General Grant.

The prominant white Corgarff Castle, 15km north west of Ballater.

Gliders were seen on a couple of occasions, launched using tows from a local gliding club.

Sunday:  6 miles east to Dinnet.  Then walked around Loch Kinord.  Much of the time under the trees.  Past Clarack, Meikle Kinord to Bogingore.  Visited Burn-o-Vat and saw the vat, a cavern carved out of the rock by whirling boulders in a whirlpool.  Visitors centre for 11 o'clock break where saw sheep's skull and some bird wings.  Walked round north side westwards via Old Kinord and New Kinord.  Saw historic Celtic cross positioned to face out across Loch Kinord, and lunch on  north side in field with horse jumps.  Viewpoint across the lake, eventually back to Dinnet.  7 miles today.  Occasional hail but mostly dry and no significant wind.

The river Dee where we saw several people fishing for Salmon and trout fish. Pedestrian suspension bridge over the river Dee which wobbled from side to side. White and yellow wild flowers seen on out scottish walk. Blue wild flowers seen on several of the walks.

Monday:  Janet went to Crathie Kirk bought hexagonal green coasters at Balmoral Castle.  Had coffee , Ballroom saw film about royal family life at Balmoral plus them doing the Eightsome reel.  Zip put in by hand.  Walked around the outside of the castle.  Crossed bridge built by Brulen and Gasllye Lancia and visited Braymar Ed Dunter exhibition.  Yellow pencil with logo "Nemo me impune lacessit" meaning "Don't mess with us".  Had most brilliant day.  Eric and Chris set of in bus went to Littlemill along past farm with horses - gradual uphill all the way for 5 miles. trees disappeared and replaced by long views with Lochnagar ahead (looks like Bowfell) with some snow.  Turn right a bit, still uphill and found a sheltered spot for lunch.  Lovely hot sun.  Chris snoozed a while.  After lunch continued further upwards and then down in the next valley to the north. Passed a nice house which had been deserted and deliberately left to go to ruin in a few years time.  Into the trees and into a quite different environment with flowers and grass instead of heather.  Continued further until route was blocked by two vertical stiles 7ft high.  Rather unsafe. One of us had a metal leg and was unable to cross so he had to go down to the road with a guide and rejoin the party further on.  Carried on through woodland and over springy mossy ground.  Stopped for drinks shortly before we met up again with the couple who had gone via the road.  Back to an open area and over some scratchy heather.  Saw buzzard, some said it was an eagle.  Saw a monstrosity - a  tree that had fallen over and somehow lifted several boulders in the air on its roots.

Inside the Burn o'Vat, a large cavity, carved out of the rock by whirling boulders. Setting off from the mini-bus on one of out hill walks, this time along old military road towards Corgarff Castle. Blue sky and clouds; a windy but sunny day. Walking in the scottish woods on Royal Deeside, Ballater.

Tuesday 22 May: Walk started today in Ballater town following track of old railway to the north west, alongside the River Dee towards the Bridge of Gairn.  Nice views over the river and met someone walking a dog (not the Queen).  Saw people down below fishing.  Crossed bridge over River Gairn.  Noted two water flow gauging stations with suspension arrangement to suspend a depth and flow rate meter in the water at various positions across the river bed.  Just after  this junction is a road to the right, A939, which has a very steep humped bridge.  We continued along fields and then down towards the river and across on a pedestrian suspension bridge that wobbled from side to side and made Chris seasick.  On the far side of Polhollick bridge we turned right south west.  Visited old deliberately partially destroyed church, mausoleum and graveyard of the Mackenzie at Bridgend cottages where an oyster catchers was nesting in amongst the strawberry plants. Stopped for lunch at a fishing pond where we say an angler carefully set up his equipment and then cast his line and catch a rainbow trout.  We cheered and clapped when he put the fish back.  Saw hen with two chicks.   Through many trees to Dorsincilly and Birkhall across and back to Ballintober and House of Glenmuick before going down to B976 for quarter of a mile before being back in Ballater.   

Walking around Loch Kinord near Dinnet, Ballater, Scotland. The church in Ballater.  We met near here each morning before going hill walking. Climbing over high stile in the scottish deer fences. Sign at Glengarden warning of abnormal humped bridge on the A939 road at Rinloan.

Wednesday 23 May:  Easy and Moderate walkers set off in same bus this morning to Keilock.  Up hill into forest to the north past Invercauld House.  Told about a Cairngorm rock collection which included a sample of moon rock - possible origin was US visitors including astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Then walked further on up to the right.  Rather exposed here with stormy winds but good views north west towards Cairngorm mountains.  Over the hilltop and down via ruins of old village and across valley floor to lunch stop by the forest.  Easy walk down afterwards ending about 2pm, thence to Ballater by minibus and several shared cars.

Walking on rough heather hillside in Cairngorm mountains, Scotland. Burn o-Vat visitor centre. Muir of Dinnet National. Nature reserve. Views across scottish hills on clear sunny day walking. Ant hill in woods seen while walking near River Dee.

Thursday: Walked east from Ballater along old rail track - opposite direction to earlier walk.  Saw old railway station which had been turned into a nicely painted house, sealed up with much iron grills and security screening.  The rail track has been sold off by the government for 1p per mile. Found Tulloch church with round walled graveyard so there were no corners where the devil could hide.  It was here that minister was late once for his Sunday service and the people had a fiddle and make up the dance Reel of Tulloch.  At Newton of Tulloch visited the Farqueson memorial (up an hill so infested with rabbits it was like a building site of sand. Then further east following the bend of the river Dee to a pedestrian suspension bridge over to the south side.  Then back towards Pannanish.  Had lunch sitting up  a slope overlooking the river and saw a deer through big trees.  Continued back to Ballater 2pm.    Supper that the Golf Club - to be recommended, go early about 6pm.

Friday:  Short 5 mile walk today around Logie Coldstone, 12km north east of Ballater.  Rolling countryside with great variety of scenery and experiences.  Across cultivated fields, lots of cattle and sheep, through woodlands and some open moor space with bright yellow gorse in bloom.  Weather cloudy, sun, cold, hot, from minute to minute. Typical Scottish weather.  Saw Orange Tip butterfly, yellow sulphur coloured Brimstone moth, Green Streak butterfly, goat willow tree, curlew and oyster catcher.  Heard cuckoo.  Loads of sheep and lambs, some in our way on the route back.  Friday night was a Scottish country dance night and we had a laugh dressing up in smart kilts and doing ceilidh dances. See here about our Scottish country dancing summer school at St Andrews.

Ballater is a good place to go for a Scottish walking holiday,  Well organised by some very hardworking organisers who have put a lot of effort in. Thanks to all.

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Page created 16 May 2007, amended 2 Aug 2015 ECJ  Copyright Satellite Signals Limited all rights reserved.  Additions and corrections please to eric@satsig.net