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Christmas Lunch  at Daviot  on Tuesday 14th December 2010

Over thirty members gathered at ‘The Dairy at Daviot’ for our Christmas lunch. Welcomed by our host  we were directed to the very pleasant conservatory area. Although a rather limited menu, the food was good and the service excellent. Doug very generously paid for all our drinks.  Margaret L. had organised a raffle and after our meal the tickets were drawn and many excellent prizes distributed. The raffle raised 75. It was a very sociable occasion much enjoyed by everyone.



Caledonian Canal Ramble, Inverness to Clachnaharry
5th November 2010

The Muirtown Basin car park was our starting point for the ramble.
While waiting for the scooters to be unloaded, our attention was captivated by the antics of two (perhaps three) otters enjoying a morning romp in the mirror-calm water of the canal.

Once we were off along the west bank of the canal, we enjoyed clear views of the imposing Kessock Bridge and Ord Hill to our right.

At Clachnaharry, the wonderful, mild, windless weather enabled us to enjoy a wonderful panorama - the Beauly Firth and the distant mountains to the west.  The weather was so pleasant that several locals and friendly dogs were out enjoying the time of day.

It was almost with regret that we prepared for our return to base.  Crossing the canal via a lock, we emerged onto the tow path on the eastern bank of the canal. 
Making a detour along a narrow path, we were disappointed to find the gate into the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve unsuitable for our scooters to pass through.  Turning the scooters proved tricky and help was required by the stronger members to execute an about turn in order to make the retreat back onto the tow path.

At the level crossing we were warned that a train was due and the gate would have to be closed.  Once we were all safely over the track, some of us waited to watch the train passing.

After our return to Muirtown Basin car park, some of us drove to The Co-op nearby for refreshments in their café.

I can’t help concluding - “A good time was had by all”, and a big Thank You to all those who plan and organise the rambles.



Glenmore Ramble -  7th October 2010

Our ramble started from Glenmore Visitor Centre with 22 of us heading towards the Pass of Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine, the Green Lochan.  After several days of wet and windy weather the forecast was promising.  As we set off it seemed we were going to have a fine early autumnal day to visit one of the most attractive and interesting areas of the Cairngorms.
I was pleasantly surprised by the path which led to the Pass.  I had not been there for several years and as I remembered it the path was rough and stony.  It was now smooth and ideal both for walking and for scooters.  As we meandered along I noted also that there seemed to be more vegetation, the pines of the ancient Caledonian Forest being partly obscured by scrub birch which lined the path.

As the glen narrowed Miranda, one of the Forest Rangers who accompanied us, described how, as well as being a drove road for herding cattle to Southern markets, Ryvoan played an important role in supplying timber to the shipbuilding industry in Aberdeen.  Close to where we now stood a dam would be constructed.  When sufficient water had accumulated, the sluice would be opened and young men would float the logs downstream to Loch Morlich.  I envisaged them surfing on rough pine logs with dire consequences should they slip.  The process was repeated out of Loch Morlich to the Spey and then on to Spey Bay to be taken by boat to Aberdeen.  No 30-ton lorries in those days!

As we munched our sandwiches at the Green Lochan the breeze turned cooler and the summits and the upper corries became enshrouded in mist.  With spots of rain on the wind we made a quick return to the Visitor Centre, not just to escape the weather but to celebrate Juliet’s birthday with tea and cake.  A day early perhaps but a pleasant way to complete a fine ramble.  

Ian R.


Rosehaugh Estate  Ramble        7th September 2010

We met briefly at Munro’s Garden centre and then on to the car park by Avoch’s pretty church, having past the main entrance to Rosehaugh which would be for those that were unable to come would be a good easy walk/scooter on tarmac for a day out.  We headed off along a short road to reach the track into the estate.

It was a good path with the welcome shelter of trees, and the muddy patch had dried up a great deal so no one got ‘stuck in the mud’.  Along the way an old house was being renovated which gave us some practise in reversing and vehicle avoidance.  But that obstacle overcome we continued unhindered through woodland on both sides with a gap with panoramic views on the left towards Munlochy and the Cromarty Firth.

We reached the site of the old house and stopped for lunch.  There were some lovely views even though the weather was cloudy and windy.  Elspeth gave us some information on the old house and its history and passed round a book of its story.

The land was acquired by Sir George Mackenzie in the 1660’s but the first substantial house was built in 1790 by Roderick Mackenzie. This was described as “a modern edifice, substantially built and commodious, costing £3000-£4000!” by Rev. J Smith vicar of Avoch.  In 1864 the land and house were bought by James Fletcher who greatly improved and reclaimed areas including draining Loch Scadden above Avoch an area of 3300 acres.  His son James Douglas inherited and employed Wm.Flockhart to extend the house, he encased it and added many bays to the original, using only the finest materials. It passed to his widow and when she died in 1953 it was sold to an insurance co, and the house was demolished in 1959, when they sold the contents it was the largest sale ever seen on the Black Isle.  A sad end but there is a number of buildings on the estate now restored and rented out as holiday lets.

We then headed back the same way - an interesting and enjoyable day.

Jean and James


Seagull Trust Canal Cruise 16th August 2010

We all parked next to the boat and we were met by a very friendly and most helpful crew from the Seagull Trust.  We were also waved off like royalty by Margaret L and Elspeth causing a good giggle inside the boat.

We started and maintained a slow pace meandering along the canal taking in the sights along the way.  The weather stayed clear and bright and this made for some stunning reflections on the canal from the surrounding trees and greenery.

We all chatted and received excellent hospitality from the crew with tea and coffee and homemade shortbread.

Some of the more adventurous went to see the wheelhouse in action and the remainder of the group just enjoyed the leisurely pace of the cruise.
We headed down the canal for about an hour, passing a variety of boats including some very expensive ones.  The boat was then turned around and we headed back along the same route.

The Seagull Trust crew handed around some souvenirs that were reasonably priced and many of the group purchased a selection of their wares. We were very happy to support this great charity.

Once the boat was moored we all took part in a group photo for the Seagull Trust as we had all travelled from far and wide within the highlands.  We then went to the Floral Hall for coffee and when we arrived it seemed the whole group had the same idea.  Every table was full, the majority of them with Highland Disabled Ramblers members.



Nairn Ramble on 4 August 2010

The group met at the large and accessible Links Car Park, and started out along the sea front with glorious views to the north. We passed the harbour and crossed the pedestrian bridge over the Nairn river into the Caravan Park which leads to East Beach Car Park.

We  took the path behind the dunes towards Culbin Sands, which HDR  helped to survey with one of the Highland Council Rangers on one of our first rambles, in September 2001.  The sandy path runs between high shrubs for the first half of the route and is just wide enough for a scooter.   As well as a large variety of wild flowers, we passed bushes loaded with ripe wild raspberries and the promise of a good blackberry harvest later.

We stopped to admire the more open view near to the Ministers Pool, and moved on to Kingsteps Car Park for a picnic lunch; not a good spot for a picnic one would have thought, but it was possible to position ourselves so that we had open views.

After lunch we joined the suburban road back to Nairn, passing Meadow Lea and Sutor housing estates and turning right on to a footpath immediately after Nairn Dunbar Golf Club, which led us to the west bank of the river Nairn.   We crossed the river by footbridge, arriving back at the Links just after 2 pm.  The decision was taken that the vans would leave the car park at 3 pm, allowing members to enjoy refreshments at the Beach Café, which was very busy serving the many families enjoying a day at the seaside.

Twenty four members and friends with 9 scooters joined the ramble.  We thank Elspeth for auditing and leading the ramble, which was planned by Yvonne and Lenny.  We also thank van drivers Martin and Alan and marshals who assisted with road and bridge crossings.  As always, goodwill and dedication helped to make this a successful and varied ramble in very pleasant weather.

Margaret A.

Strathfarrar – Tuesday 20th July 2010

After gathering at Beauly Gallery we travelled up Strathfarrar and parked on rough ground.  Ten scooters, but 21 of us in total, then set off in hot sunshine, heading further up the valley road.   The road was fully tarred, wide and undulating making it very easy going for all.  Trees, moors and mountains surrounded us all the way, with glimpses of the river now and then. 

By lunchtime we had reached the Dam on the River Farrar (although not easily seen), and spread out for a well earned rest and picnic.  The valley had opened out here with views towards Loch Beannacharan, and Sgurr na Muice and Beinn na Muice peaks. The dragonflies of this area were amazing, the largest I have seen.   However – the weather deteriorated and a quick dash back to the cars was in order. What a disappointing end to a lovely walk but with tea and cake to look forward to back at the Beauly Gallery.

We are always advised to bring sunscreen, hats, waterproofs and midge protection – on this ramble we used them all!

We must thank the Strathfarrar Estate for allowing us access to this lovely area and to the two van drivers, Sue and Eddie for all their hard work on the day.


Great Glen Way ramble -  5th July 2010

Well here we are at last, my report on a very enjoyable day on yet another interesting walk!

We arrived at the S.N.H. Offices beside the old Craig Dunain hospital in Inverness, with Martin and Eddie doing a van shuttle to bring the scooters to the start.
About 5 cars with walkers and helpers turned up on a pleasant Monday at the SNH car park to convoy to the start of the ramble along part of the 'Great Glen Way' 

We were met by GGW ranger 'Bruce' who led us on a very interesting walk, pointing out the various plants and trees, and the reservoirs built by the patients of Craig Dunain back in the early days of the 1920s, which were used as fire extinguishers.

The views were brilliant. Seeing the old hospital from a different angle I'm sure reminded many folks who may have known the beautiful old building which to me looked like a Castle built during the 1745 rising.

As the path ran up one steep part, we had to negotiate a rather tricky turn through a gate that was on a bend on the hill. We needed full power to be used by the various scooters with some tricky driving, phew!  We all managed, what fun!
We heard many wild birds, with a Willow warbler regularly chirping away, although try as I might did not see it!

We stopped for our 'picnic' on an old drove road, with some lovely trees giving shade from the slight sun, still hearing the  warbler who must have wondered what we were all doing in his area.  With thoughts of Rob Roy running through my mind, we made our way back to the cars after, yes another great Ramble!



Beinn Eighe ramble -  23 June 2010

A very good turnout for this ramble with all scooters booked and plenty volunteers. The Reserve manager Eoghain Maclean met us at the car park and welcomed us to the reserve. He led us round the ‘All Abilities Trail’ with its excellent surface and gradient, stopping to explain some of the management issues and highlighting the wildlife around us. Some of us stopped at the ‘listening posts’, powered by turning a handle, to hear about the various animals and birds found in the pinewoods.

As we gained height, we were treated to open views up to Beinn Eighe itself. We stopped for our picnic at an ideal vantage point but could see clouds gathering above us. After lunch Eoghain  led us towards Kinlochewe village to complete a circuit back to the car park. We were treated to a few showers which did not dampen our enthusiasm for the ramble.

We had a chance to look round the Visitor Centre with its excellent displays before heading home. Some folk, I think, stopped at the cafe in Achnasheen for a welcome drink.

Many thanks to Eoghain for his warm welcome, to Margaret L. for arranging our visit and to Martin and Eddie for driving the vans. Also thanks to our other volunteers.


Drumnadrochit Ramble and AGM on 5th June 2010

Eighteen members and friends assembled in the car park at Drumnadrochit before driving up to the High School to park. Martin led our walk above the village, passing beside woods and fields, the grass verges blooming with wild flowers.  On the way he drew our attention to the great variety of trees, in particular some very large, old conifers. As we passed through a residential area, we could admire the well kept gardens of the Drum folk.

Many thanks to Martin for finding yet another good ramble in the Drum area, and for pointing out many points of interest we would otherwise have missed. One of the great benefits of these outings is the conversation, or simply the quiet enjoyment of the surroundings. Thank you also to Peggie who, with Martin, drove the vans.

After arriving back at the school, we headed to the Church of Scotland Hall, where we enjoyed our lunch. No need to bring cakes here – the wonderful array of home baking was there again. Many thanks to Maureen and her team.

After lunch, our Annual General Meeting followed, chaired by Sheelagh. Our president Jamie McGrigor was unable to attend this year due to family commitments.

Cameron and Margaret A. have stood down from the committee for health reasons. We wish them both well. Margaret was presented with a photo collage of her HDR exploits in recognition of her excellent service since the very start of HDR.  We were pleased to welcome three new members to the committee – Janet M., Terry and Don.

We also discussed finances and fundraising. The meeting agreed to raise the annual membership fees to £15 (single) and £20 (family) .

There was also plenty time to chat and catch up with members’ news.


Boat of Garten – Tuesday 18th May 2010

This was the second ramble of the season and it was the second one which provided us with a warm sunny day. After meeting up at the new community hall with its excellent facilities, we went in convoy down the Kinchurdy Road to unload the scooters. Our route took us parallel to the Strathspey Steam Railway line, which we could occasionally glimpse through the trees (sadly no trains passed), before we turned right through the forest, following good wide tracks and ended up on the banks of Loch Vaa for our picnic.


As we looked across the water, the view of the snow-capped Cairngorms was stunning above the tree-lined far shore of the Loch. It was hard to imagine that the A95 trunk road passed only about 50 yards beyond the far shore. We were given an excellent talk on the history of forestry on the Seafield Estate by the head forester, who explained that this area largely escaped the vast timber harvesting programme of WW2.

There was a good attendance on the ramble, and our thanks go to Susan for arranging the ramble, and to all our volunteer drivers, marshals, and all participants. It was a great day out, as Wallace and Grommit would say!


Brahan Estate  - 16th April 2010

We certainly had a good start to the HDR Season with the ramble at Brahan Estate. The day started with the meeting of members at the Fraser Auction Mart at Dingwall and we set off in convoy to the Brahan Estate where the scooters were allocated, and off we all went at a leisurely pace. The sky was blue, the sun shone and after the terrible winter which we have had it was wonderful to realise that spring had actually arrived, albeit with a cool breeze.  Wildlife enthusiast among us were treated to herons, moorhens, coots, swans nesting, a skein of geese overhead, the hoot of a tawny owl, pheasants strutting and a beautiful view of red kites.

The arboretum that we were supposed to have negotiated had been so badly damaged by the winter snow as to make the pathway unsuitable for the scooters, so we went around another way where Martin pointed out some interesting plants and trees. We had a short stop by the loch, where we watched the waterfowl and came across a strange phenomenon of lots of dead toads, which no-one seemed to be able to explain.

One of the scooters had a bit of a mishap, but the rider, apart from perhaps a slight loss of dignity, was none the worse for his spill.

We had another short rest for refreshment by the River Conon and those who had packed a lunch ate there, while others had lunch when we returned to the Auction Mart. Altogether a wonderful day was had by all. Roll-on the next trip – Boat of Garten!.

Janet M.

Martin’s talk on New Zealand – 24th February 2010
Our second winter meeting of the year on 24th February dawned with blizzard-like conditions.  A number of members had confirmed their intention to come to the meeting and as the morning went on, the snow ceased so we decided to go ahead as only a few had advised that they were not going to be able to make it.  So a small number of us gathered at the Mission Room in North Kessock to partake of soup and sandwiches provided by the good ladies of the village.
After lunch Martin showed us his pictures of his trip to New Zealand and was able to answer our questions about the trees and agriculture/farming  there.  It was really interesting and the pictures superb.  He concluded the 'film show'  with those taken at Raffles which was fascinating.  We will ask Martin to give the show again as those who could not come missed a treat.
Our new volunteer Kenny came and we made him feel welcome.  Also Janet had provided name badges for every member - a great effort.  Thank you, Janet.

Peggie’s Quiz – 20th January 2010
There was a very good turnout for this event, the first opportunity many folk had had to get out after the confinements of snow and ice. After an excellent lunch and plenty chat, we divided into about 6 teams for the quiz. Peggie had prepared a wide ranging test of our knowledge, from history and geography to biology and films. All was taken in a light hearted vein and greatly enjoyed.  Many thanks to Peggie for her excellent preparation and organisation of the quiz.

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