The strollers take a break!

July 2014 - A Walk in the Woods

The weather did not look promising as the Strollers assembled in the car park at Drum Garden Centre on 20th July. The drizzle had followed us from Aberdeen and the mist was down on the hills. Nevertheless, our hardy band set out for the Burn of Sheeoch in the forest west of the Slug Road from Banchory to Stonehaven. As we turned off the Slug Road onto the access road to the Durris Mast, the drizzle ceased although the mist obscured the view over lower Deeside. There is a large area of off-road parking where the metalled road turns up the hill and from here our route was west along a forestry road through mature conifer forest. Gaps in the trees allowed views limited only by the mist. After a little while, we turned uphill, leaving the road we would return to later. The road here follows, for a short while, the line of the gas pipeline from St Fergus as it climbs over the Mounth but turned west again staying firmly on the Deeside slope of the hill. The short up-hill sections were interspersed with longer near-level sections on newly re-graded forestry road.  Finally, a short section on older forestry road, dipping downhill, took us to the Sheeoch Burn and our turning point.

Here we enjoyed our picnic lunch and acted as route advisers to a couple of walkers who were not quite clear where they were going. The mist too began to thin with gleams of sunshine illuminating the open glen down which the burn flows. Our return route, on the north side of the glen, climbed gently into the trees before descending on a newly graded forestry road to the open glen and the second crossing of the Sheeoch Burn. By this time the sun was shining and the contrasting green shades of bracken, birch, pine and spruce were punctuated with patches of heather. The brown, clear burn water proved irresistible to the dogs, who delighted in chasing and retrieving a ball.

After a short uphill from the burn, we met our inward route and retraced our steps to where the car was parked. As Rory McIlroy was teeing-off on the final day of the Open, the consensus was to forgo sociable refreshment and head home to the television.

July 2013 - Sluie Woods to Den of Drumgown and Knock Saul

The fine summer weather provided a superb day for the Strollers to do a walk originally intended for the spring, when we had to do an alternative owing to 2 feet of snow on most of the walk. This short walk took us through the Sluie woods and Sluie Hill down into the Den of Drumgown followed by a short steep walk up to the summit of Knock Saul. Here we had a pleasant picnic whilst being afforded fine views north to Ben Rinnes, south west to Mount Keen and down the Vale of Alford towards Aberdeen and the coast. Our return took a detour from the Gordon Way that we had followed on the outward walk and over forest trails and felled tree areas back to Sluie Hill and the car park. Given the preceding summer weather as we all remember having every summer in our youth the underfoot conditions were dry and easy going a pleasant change from when the walk had been reconnoitred in April with deep snow everywhere. Whilst very pleasantly warm it was not a blisteringly hot day as we had had in the recent weeks but still enough heat and fluid loss to justify a cool libation at the Forbes Arms at Bridge of Alford before returning home.

June 2013 - Glen Girnock

The intended walk, which had been done in beautiful sunshine by the leaders ten days previously, was a 9.5 mile circuit starting and finishing at Littlemill on the South Deeside Road west of Ballater. The weather, as our group of ten set out up Glen Girnock, was relentlessly wet. Common sense dictated that, after an early lunch in the shelter of a large tree at the deserted Bovaglie Farm, we return down the Glen the way we came. Those who had not visited Glen Girnock previously agreed that a return visit in better weather would be worthwhile. After our shortened but brisk six mile walk, an afternoon refreshment and chat in the Loch Kinnord Hotel at Dinnet rounded off our day.

May 2013 - Glen Dye

Our May Walk took us to Glen Dye, a seven mile walk below the hill of Clachnaben and following the Water of Dye. We were blessed with good weather as it had rained most of the previous week and after parking our cars at the Clachnaben car park we proceeded downhill past Glen Dye Lodge where we joined the Water of Dye. It was just past this point that Spital Burn joined the Dye. (The word Spital indicates there was once a hospice nearby serving travellers going over the Cairn o‚?? Mounth). We then found ourselves in the middle of Gun Dog Trials and were fortunate that Bill Mitchell‚??s wife Ann was with as she was able to explain the different disciplines that the dogs were being tested on.
Then it was on with the walk taking us to our picnic stop at the Charr bothy. This bothy was donated by the Fasque Estates to the Mountain Bothies Association who now care for the building.
As in the words of the Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond we had taken the low road out and we therefore took the high road for our return journey offering a completely different vista.
On completion of our walk we adjourned to the Clattering Brig Tearoom where only the early arrivals managed to get a home bake.

April 2013 - Elrick and Brimmond Hills

Following a prolonged and late end to winter we were forced to have a last minute change to our April walk this year. If not we would have been faced with knee-deep snow for most of the walk! Instead of treading part of the Gordon Way we opted for the Elrick and Brimmond Hills both nearer to home and with no snow. However, we were met by a stiff wind as we left Elrick Hill and the Tyrebagger woods to ascend Brimmond Hill. Some hungry members found a sheltered spot to have our picnic before returning to the shelter of the woods to return to our cars. Whilst on the walk we were able to visit some of the outer Aberdeen City March stones for the maintenance of which the Burgesses are responsible.

March 2013 - Inverbervie to Mill of Benholm

The planned walk was from Inverbervie across the side of Knox Hill and down to the Mill of Benholm before going down to the coastal path back through Gourdon to Inverbervie ‚?? about 6 miles. The wind however was strongish so rather than go up the hill we took the coastal path out to the Mill and back. As you can imagine we had plenty of fresh damp air but it was enjoyable and the Mill of Benholm, a fully restored and working water-powered meal mill was an interesting place to visit. Worth a visit when open in the spring. At the end of the walk we drove inland to the Lewis Grassic Gibbon centre for a most welcome soup and sandwich ‚?? and for those who were interested a visit to the museum.

February 2013 - Bridge of Feugh

The Strollers February walk is traditionally of shorter distance and over easier terrain and this year‚??s was of no exception. We met at the Bridge of Feugh car park and then set off westwards initially along the road to Scolty before heading down onto the drive of the old Blackhall Estate. In glorious sunshine on a beautifully crisp morning we strolled westwards for about two further miles before returning back along the peaceful country road at the side of the Blackhall Forest to the Bridge of Feugh restaurant for a tasty lunch.

November 2012 - Ferryhill - Duthie Park

At 10 o‚??clock a sizeable group of 25 strollers mustered at the Polmuir Gate of the Duthie Park, counting in their number, a few of the original members of the hill-walking section of yesteryear, namely Gordon MacBain and Tom Hamilton with their wives. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to reminisce on the ‚??good old days‚?? and have the company of such sterling supporters of the group.

With the head tally made, the company set off for Riverside Drive noting that the area had been a hive of industrial and commercial activity from the early 1800s. The area had been the location of the Devanha Distillery (Old Highland Whisky), a Paper Mill, a Brewery (Indian Pale Ale and Imperial Stout) and the Ferryhill Foundry which was active up to 1950, when the Deep Freeze Supply store replaced it. This area is overlooked by Craiginches Prison built in 1890 for ¬£36000 near the site of the Upper Ferry which crossed the Dee at that point. This section of the walk finishes at the Wellington Suspension Bridge or Chain Bridge built in 1829 by James Abernethy the owner of the Ferryhill Foundry. Wheeling North, the strollers faced their most hazardous climb of the day up Wellington Brae to Prospect Terrace, noting that they had once more gone through some of the Railway Arches (1845 to1866), which allowed the rail line from the South to reach the present railway station.                                                                    

The route was now into Ferryhill proper, with its considerable history of quality architectural interest, such as Devanha Terrace, Coul Cottage, Marine Place and Terrace and Abbotsford Place with Woodbine Cottage. The site of Rotunda Place and the Rotunda was noted as the strollers headed for the Duthie Park, passing and viewing houses of interest and significance.

The second half of the outing was safely and efficiently in the hands of Park Ranger, Arthur Gill, who guided the group around the developments being undertaken in the Duthie Park, under the chairmanship of Tony Dawson. He and his Committee are quietly and effectively overseeing a wonderful refurbishment of a significant Aberdeen asset which deserves the support and gratitude of Aberdonians. The Strollers thoroughly enjoyed the visit to see these developments and would recommend a visit to see them to all the Club Members.

Having been blessed with a clear, crisp and bracing morning for a stroll with a view into the past and an exciting insight to the future, the time was right for a rapid return the Club to enjoy Fish and Chips and more time to continue reminiscences of the past with the more senior members of the hillwalkers of old.

Alex. E. Urquhart

October 2012 - Lumphanan to Kincardine

Our October walk, Lumphanan to Kincardine O'Neil Hill Route took us on a bright Sunny October day from near the battle site where in 1057 AD the future King Malcolm 3rd of Scotland defeated, killed and beheaded MacBeth. Not at all similar to Shakespeare's Macbeth play which was written around 1606. The walk over the hill gave us a wonderful vista of the Deeside countryside and the Southern Cairngorms.

Arriving in Kincardine O'Neil, one of the oldest villages in Deeside, we followed an old drovers path to the River Dee and the bright Autumn sunshine allowed us to have our picnic on the banks of the Dee.
Upon returning from our walk a stop was made in Torphins for a well-deserved refreshment.

September 2012 - Away Days

Traditionally the Strollers have a night away from Aberdeen in September to enable them to take walks that are not practical to do on the same day. This year we decided that the September walk would be along the River Tay and through the Birnam Woods at Dunkeld. We stayed at the Dunkeld Hilton Hotel which is located on the banks of the River Tay. In view of the location all 18 walkers uniquely decided to stay for two nights which enabled us to catch up on news at both nights‚?? dinners.
The weather was warm and dry at the start of the walk, which started at the hotel and initially was along the river to Dunkeld Cathedral. This is known as the "tree trail" with fine examples of some 30 species of trees from English Oak to Giant Redwoods. The Cathedral is regarded by some as one of the finest and oldest ecclesiastical building in Scotland and we looked round it before crossing the bridge over the river to Birnam. The bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and is regarded as an iconic example of his work. We then proceeded along the river through Birnam Woods where we saw the Birnam Oak and the high Sycamore featured in Shakespeare's works. 
After taking our picnic lunch we returned through Birnam village stopping for refreshments at the Birnam Art and Conference Centre. The Centre provides a surprising range of cultural activities for a relatively small village. We also looked round the adjacent Beatrix Potter gardens which commemorate the many family holidays Beatrix and her family spent in the area. We returned to the hotel via Telford's bridge and the tree trail.
George Sheaman

August 2012 - Tarland - Pittenderich Circular Walk

Undaunted by the fact that walking is no longer an Olympic sport, a smaller than usual group of Strollers, blessed with good weather, explored the hills above Tarland. Beginning by the Tarland Show field, our path soon lead us through an avenue of beech trees, one of the distinctive features of the local landscape. Climbing steadily, the expanse of the Howe o' Cromar appeared below with Morven to the west in the distance.The excellent waymarked forest track climbed to the north east affording superb views over mid Deeside, Clochnaben, Mount Keen and Braid Cairn. 

Lunch was taken at a picnic table recently strategically placed on open heather moorland with 360degree panoramic views including nearby Pressendye Hill and to the south the unmistakeable summit of Lochnagar. After lunch, those who wished, ascended to inspect the summit cairn and capture further memorable vistas on camera. 

On the descent, emerging from woods of spruce, pine and larch, we encountered another avenue of beech trees where lay hidden treasure - a rich carpet of chanterelles (girolles) identifiable by their distinctive yellow/orange hats with gills underneath. Empty lunch boxes and sandwich bags were filled to overflowing and cooking instructions discussed as we passed Douneside House, the former home of Lady MacRobert, on our way back to Tarland and well deserved refreshments at the Commercial Hotel.           
Tom Reid

July 2012 - Walking the Royal Cairns at Balmoral

In July of this Diamond Jubilee year, no less than 17 of our intrepid Strollers took up the challenge of navigating their way round 8 of the 10 Victorian Royal Cairns in the Balmoral estate on the tops of the hills to the south of the Castle. When these large, impressive dry stone monuments were built they all commanded views over the surrounding countryside, but in more recent times the area has become largely forested and so not all the cairns are easy to find without good navigation. The Royal Cairns generally celebrated events such as the marriage of some of Queen Victoria's daughters, but the Purchase Cairn built in 1852 was to mark the ownership of the Balmoral Estate by Victoria and Albert. It is generally agreed that the Prince Albert Cairn is the most impressive, an enormous granite pyramid erected after this death and in his memory by "his broken hearted widow". The "youngest" of the Victorian cairns is 130 years old.

The Strollers assembled at Crathie before walking in good weather to cross the River Dee over the 1841 white suspension bridge and thence entering the grounds of the Castle at Easter Balmoral. From there we followed estate roads, tracks and paths to seek out the cairns. Once on the higher ground the first cairn encountered was for Princess Helena, followed by Princess Louise's Cairn with a magnificent view down the Dee valley. Thereafter came the shapely Purchase Cairn, again with views of Crathie and the Dee valley. A well deserved picnic lunch was enjoyed at Prince Leopold's Cairn looking straight down to Balmoral Castle. Back in the forest we checked in at Prince Arthur's Cairn before a walk with a long vista to Princess Helena's Cairn and then a path down to near the Gelder Burn. On our way back there was a long climb back up to the highest point of Prince Albert's Cairn which duly impressed us all. It was here that the threatened rain finally came, but fortunately did not last for long. It was then downhill all the way back to Easter Ord, picking up Princess Beatrice's Cairn en route. A walk back to Crathie and our cars completed an interesting excursion of about 8 miles a number of surprises and with everyone feeling they had good exercise.

A discussion afterwards with some rehydration in the comfort of the Loch Kinord Hotel in Dinnet rounded off a memorable outing.

Note: A new Royal Cairn to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was being completed in the Balmoral Estate at the time of our outing, but was too far out of our route to include on this occasion. This first Royal Cairn for 130 years was unveiled by Her Majesty on 8th August.

June 2012 - Walk from Cambus o May by the Culblean drove road and Burn o Vat

Holidays, grandparent duties and wet weather meant that a select group of walkers set out from the forest trails car park at Cambus o May. The first section of the walk was through commercial plantations on well maintained forest roads but before long we climbed out on to the hill on the route from the ancient settlement of Tullich to the Howe of Cromar and on to Donside.This shoulder of Culblean Hill has self-seeded with open pine forest and scattered broadleaved trees. This open forest gives plenty light for heather and juniper and probably restores the landscape to what it was in 1335 when the David of Strathbogie and Andrew Moray, lord of Garioch, met in battle here.

Strathbogie, in the name of Edward Balliol, the English backed pretender to the crown, had laid siege to Kildrummy Castle. Moray, guardian of the realm for the boy king, David II, hurried north to relieve the siege and his wife, David II‚??s Aunt Christian, who was in the castle.  Strathbogie camped on Culblean to command the River Dee crossings and the route to Kildrummy. Moray crossed the Dee at Mill of Dinnet and apparently settled down for the night on the east side of Loch Davan.  Under cover of darkness, he rode round the south of Loch Kinord and attacked at dawn from an unexpected direction.  Strathbogie was routed and killed although most of his men were allowed to flee through the swamps and woods.

Descending towards Loch Davan, we enjoyed a picnic lunch in a short blink of sun before continuing to Loch Kinord where we turn back westward to Burn o Vat. The burn was high and only one of the party penetrated the Vat itself.  The walk concluded by returning above the north bank of the burn to the drove road and back to Cambus o May.  Despite the weather, we only had a couple of light showers with the mud under foot being the only real problem.  Colin Sutherland‚??s iPhone App recorded that the walk was closer to 8 miles than the 6 miles estimated from the map.

May 2012 - Edzell, The Rocks of Solitude

We met at the main car park in Edzell and then headed off to walk along one of the most scenic rivers of Scotland, the river Northesk which offers some of the best fly fishing in the world. Stunning views, fertile farmland, historic castles and picturesque bridges.

We followed the river upstream as it squeezes through an impressive gorge with steep descents down to various fishing pools until the path reaches the road at Gannochy Bridge. Crossing over the bridge we went through the ‚??blue door‚?? leading into the grounds of 18th century Burn House.

As we walked along the path to the ‚??Rocks‚?? we passed the remains of a bridge where there are huge rocks forcing the river into a narrow turbulent channel where we watched a group of kayaking enthusiasts in hard hats try to negotiate there way down river.  

We stopped at the Rocks to take a picnic break and then returned through the grounds of Burn House, educational charity which hosts study groups from all over the world.

Having had a great day with good weather we returned to Edzell along the river walk and refreshments at the local pub.

April 2012 - Ballochbuie Forest

We met for the April Walk this year at Ballater Car Park and proceeded to the Invercauld Walkers Car Park on the A93, two miles before Braemar.

The walk took us back over the A93 and down to the river following the bank we crossed via the Wade Bridge, although it was not built by Wade but his successor. It is part of the old military road from Fort George via Corgarff and to Blairgowrie.

Crossing the bridge we turned left and made our way to the Falls of Garbh Allt and the rather fine iron foot bridge built by Bisset's of Aberdeen in 1877, then onward up through the Ballochbuie Forrest where we stopped for a picnic at the log cabin. We then returned to the cars and made our way for some refreshment at Ballater Golf Club.

January 2012 - Coastal Walk from Newtonhill to Downies

There was a very good turnout of members and wives (26 in all) for the above winter, coastal walk.
We assembled at Boots' car park at Bridge of Dee at 10 am on a cold but very sunny day.  After a roll call, we drove to Newtonhill where we parked in the car park at the Leisure Centre.  After booting up we set off down to the lower edge of the playing field and on to the path leading down to the beach, across the footbridge which crosses the Burn of Elsick and then up the North side of the burn to the railway viaduct.  We turned east towards the coast and gently walked around the lower slopes of Cran Hill and headed north to Downies. This is a small hamlet overlooking Cammachmore Bay.  It has notices warning visitors that the cliffs are dangerous.  Needless to say, some of our members clambered down the cliff and on to a prominent rock.  The rest of us lazed in the sun and had our coffee and biscuits.
We retraced our steps back to Newtonhill but instead of going to the car park by the coastal path we crossed the Elsick burn near the railway and followed the Old Mill Road back to the cars.
We changed our footwear and then drove to Stonehaven harbour where we enjoyed a very good lunch and refreshments at the Marine Hotel at about 2pm.  The walk was relatively short (about 5 miles in all) but we had a very enjoyable stroll along the coast in absolutely splendid weather and in good company: a winter coastal walk.

November 2011 - Balmedie Country Park

The Strollers last walk for 2011 was in November and concluded an interesting and varied selection of walks for the year. It was from Balmedie towards Newburgh. We assembled at the Balmedie Country Park and were blessed with a fine, clear day. After initially walking through the sand dunes we came to Mr Trumps "best golf course in the world" and were able to see the progress on the course. Much of the course had been completed and the golfers in the group were impressed with the project notwithstanding the large number of bunkers protecting some greens or the lengthy carry from back tees. One of our number had, by chance, a golf ball and club with him and was able to take his first shot on the hallowed course. We returned to the Country Park by way of the beach. We then retired to the Cock and Bull restaurant in Balmedie for a most enjoyable meal which was a fitting end to our 2011 programme of walks.