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Christmas Lunch at North Kessock  - Tuesday 13th December 2011

Over thirty members and friends joined the festivities at the North Kessock Mission Hall. A wonderful meal was prepared and served by the ladies of the church. With a choice of three starters, main courses and desserts everyone was well catered for. All agreed that the food was excellent and more than up to the standard of a Christmas lunch at a hotel, and all for the princely sum of 12 each. We understand that the church actually made a profit which is great news.

There was plenty lively chat which continued over the tea/coffee and mints, after which the raffle was drawn. Many folk were lucky to receive great prizes and 42 was raised for our funds. Many thanks to Margaret Lawton for making the lunch arrangements and organising the raffle and prizes. Thanks also to Gerry for calling the raffle numbers.

River Beauly, Thursday 3rd November 2011

The ramble was mainly on a minor road starting near the Lovat Bridge.  As we progressed we drew nearer to the River Beauly. We were fortunate at this time of the year to have a mild and sunny day.  The trees looked lovely in their autumn colours.  One or two cars came along the road and our walkie-talkie system warned us of their approach.  The route was on good surfaces throughout.

At one point a skein of geese in ever-changing formation flew over.  We wondered where they had come from and where they would spend the winter.The width and beauty of the river weir was quite a surprise:  an impressive sight.

We glimpsed Beaufort Castle through the trees.  It was built in 1882 on the site of a number of earlier castles going back to the 12th century.  In 1994 Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat sold the castle to Ann Gloag of the Stagecoach Group to pay off debts.

By the river we saw a large wooden fishermen’s hut with verandah, reminiscent of seaside beach huts but much larger.  Inside it was equipped with cooking and eating facilities and outside were frames with notches on which to prop up fishing rods.  Also outside were picnic tables.  Our group took full advantage of these to have “elevenses”!

After the ramble most of us had a convivial lunch at the Beauly Gallery Kirk Coffee Shop.

Seventeen members, including eight scooter users, joined the walk.  We thank all those who had a part in the success of this happy and well-organised day out.


Rothiemurchus,  Monday 3rd October 2011

We arrived at the Rothiemurchus visitor centre to a mixture of bright sunshine and blustery winds. For reasons beyond Martin’s control the 2 large vans with tail gates were not available on the day.  Instead we had 3 smaller vans driven Martin, Peggy & new driver Tommy. Due to changes to the agreement for our original ramble access point, we had to change the venue to Loch an Eilean. This was not a problem due to its close proximity, with a large car park, disabled toilets and small information shop. In fact while talking to Marion later in the day she mentioned that Loch an Eilean had been Michael’s favourite ramble. He was in good company as it’s been voted the UK’s favourite picnic spot.

Starting off in an anti clockwise direction round Loch an Eilean, were 9 scooters (2 kindly donated for the day by Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport company), 10 helpers, plus 2 four legged companions.  With a wide track, good progress was made to a ruined Castle a short distance out in the Loch. The Castle was once the stronghold of the Wolf of Badenoch in the early 15th Century and was connected by a causeway to the shore when the Loch had a lower water level. Progress was made through the odd gate and past the occasional croft type dwelling till it was time to stop for a bite to eat in a clearing. By this time the wind was starting to get quite strong and extra clothing was being added.

Fully refreshed, our next objective was to cross a small wooden bridge over a burn which connected the lochs. With Martin forever alert in front looking for any problem areas, the only difficulty once over the wooden structure was a short stony incline presenting no problems with added assistance from the able helpers. All was going well, slow but sure, till one Lady (who shall be nameless) thought there is a quicker way to do this. In true Evel Knievel style it was point the machine, full power and go - it worked and only 2 wheels were required. For about the only time in the day we were all speechless, for as you know if you have ever been on an HDR  ramble, it’s one big talk from start to finish.

Concentration was required in certain areas due to high steep banking dropping down into the Loch. Victor did his best by standing by the banking warning scooter drivers of the problems ahead. On the last leg of our excellent day out we were starting to feel the odd drop of rain. In the distance we could hear the sound of bagpipes playing. As we approached the end of our ramble there was a lone piper playing for a Bride & Groom, with their guests gathered by the Loch’s edge, many in rather unseasonal outfits.  Throughout the day we came across groups of other people enjoying themselves by the lochside.
We were lucky that it stayed dry until we had all got back to our vehicles.

                                                                                                                                                Mike F


Learnie, near Rosemarkie,  Wednesday 7th September

Setting out from home we wondered if we would manage to get through the day without getting soaked. The sky offered little hope as we approached Rosemarkie with the heavens opening on us. Thankfully though after a quick stop in the village to use the facilities, when we arrived at the forest it was dry.

We met at the Red Rock car park, mainly used by mountain bikers for the many trails going off in all directions. We however followed the main forestry track away from the road through both planted forest and open land. Turning left we headed up a very steep hill which although was no bother for the scooters made the walkers wish they had four wheels instead of two feet!  It was worth it though because at the top the path met a tarmac road with magnificent views over the Moray Firth towards Fort George and Ardersier. The sun was shining and the sea blue.

Thankfully the next part of the ramble was on the flat as we headed east along the road. We soon turned off the road onto another forestry track, down hill this time for a short while, before turning off onto a bike trail through two well positioned rocks which the scooters fitted though with inches to spare.

This track was bumpy and uphill and not very wide in some places proving challenging for both the walkers and the scooters. Once we reached the top we were welcomed by more wonderful views of the Firth, this time looking out at Whiteness point and down towards Nairn.

To our left we were surprised to see the Rosemarkie Transmitter looking rather small in comparison to what we expected and on the same level as ourselves. We really had come a long way up! The wind however at the top was pretty chilly and when the rain started we wondered if we might take off over the sea ourselves. Thankfully the sun soon came back out.  After a welcome break and a few photos and snacks we headed back down the bumpy track. We met two very surprised looking mountain bikers on our way down, who kindly waited and let us all past.

Continuing downhill on the main forestry track we reached our lunch spot giving more splendid views over the Firth. The sun was shining and although we had been buffeted by a cold wind and rain at the previous resting point, were lucky that for now it was calm and warm. Very much 4 seasons in one day!  From Fort George we could hear the firing range and the "bangs" coming over the Firth reminding us that the Fort was not merely just something beautiful to look at across the water.

 After lunch we headed back up the forestry track passing many lovely wild flowers and heathers. Large toadstools peeked out from under the trees, a mass of many bright colours.

The wind was blowing again and the sky looked threatening but thankfully we made it back to the cars without getting soaked. However I am not sure if all the ramblers were so lucky as moments after we shut the door on the car the heavens opened again.

A great ramble and good time had, and proof that scooters can go places you never thought they could !

                                                                                                                        Jean & Emma

Tain Hill Ramble  -  19th August 2011

We met first at the Glenmorangie distillery for the use of their toilets then a short drive to the Forestry Commission car park for the start of our ramble.

The ramble at Tain Hill was really good and took us on a forest track to the top of the hill. It was a lovely sunny day with just enough breeze to keep most of the midges away. The views were quite spectacular over the Dornoch Firth and beyond. We had a picnic at the top then meandered down on another path having to traverse across gullies using a portable ramp ably manned by Martin.

We finished our day having enjoyable refreshments at the Storehouse restaurant at Foulis where Juliette showed us how to eat an enormous meringue. Thanks to the organisers for a very enjoyable day out.
                                                                                         Linda S.


Lochluichart Estate    20th July 2011

There was a good turnout on a good day with Ed and Linda’s grandsons, Calum and Aden joining us too.  This ramble was new to most of us and was most interesting. It was on a good paved road which gradually climbed out of open pinewoods on one side and spruce plantation on the other, coming out onto a broad valley with a river running through it.

We spotted numbered bird boxes on some pine trees, a large wooden crow trap set half way up the hillside and many lovely wild flowers and plants, e.g. orchids, bog asphodel, bell heather, bog myrtle and even white heather growing near our picnic spot. Just below the ridge ran a pipeline which we realised was collecting lots of water from the catchment area we were walking through, hence the very low level in the river and burns. We had a lovely walk amidst magnificent mountainous scenery.

                                                                                                                                    Susan C.


Glen Cannich 4th July 2011

It was a lovely sunny day when 14 intrepid ramblers met at the large layby off the single track road that runs up Glen Cannich. Having mounted our trusty scooters, Martin gave us a talk on what the Forestry Commission were doing in the area, removing the non- indigenous trees from the hillside. Then we made our slow way up the forestry track following the River Cannich and admiring the beautiful views and wild flowers. Martin pointed out the Scots pine that were left and the birch which would now hopefully seed and regenerate.   We stopped for our sandwiches at the ford on the river where the lorries had removed the logs.

After sustenance some of us went further to see if we were at the head of the small lochan. The track went on and on so we turned back when we could see mountains nearer the west coast . We returned to the cars and dispersed having had a really lovely day. To spoil it my friend ‘s car had a puncture on our way home outside the Loch Ness Experience. Some helpful lads changed the wheel to let us on our way.



Roseisle Forest 21st June 2011

This was I feel an excellent choice for a ramble!  We had the best of both worlds in both a seaside and forest walk.  Roseisle is in an area steeped in history with the ancient Pictish fort village of Burghead within sight and for the moment RAF Kinloss (supposed to be closing soon). Further round the coast at the village of Findhorn, when the mist cleared, we could see the wind turbines that power the Findhorn foundation, a community of let’s just say ‘ecological people’ who try and live without some of the trappings of modern life.


The forest was very pleasant for the scooters and I had the privilege of using our guest scooter, the much talked about Tramper. Wow what a wagon, larger wheels so you can motor up steeper hills and through sand, it was very easy to get carried away.......!

We enjoyed our lunch by the sea, and in June you would think wonderful, but somebody forgot to tell the sun!!! Never mind, it was enjoyed by us all if we could find a seat! Sadly the original ones had been vandalised and removed.


After lunch a few of us stayed to 'go further'.  This time a circular ramble explored an area from the opposite end of the car park. Elspeth was on hand to give us the benefit of her time as a ranger for the Forestry Commission (this was part of her patch), telling us about the flora and fauna of the area.  We all had a great time, and again we must not forget those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make these rambles the success they are!



Ramble  and A.G.M. at Drumnadrochit on Saturday 4th June 2011

Our ramble took us to ‘Martin’s patch’, Drumnadrochit. Driving there we saw lovely views of the Caledonian Canal, Loch Ness and silage already being cut. Starting near the cemetery, our circular walk took us out towards Urquhart Bay, Loch Ness between the river Enrick and the river Coiltie. This area is an S.S.S.I. (Site of Special Scientific Interest), being ancient woodland, with lots of growth in the forest canopy and on the forest floor. Bursts of ragged robin were a delight, with banks of blue lupins in view and children playing in the shallow river. Lots of ash trees and young sycamore predominated the woods. Curly brown/fawn lichen clung to the ash bark.

After the ramble we went to the church where the Ladies treated us to delicious home baking with tea and coffee. We learnt of the church’s ‘Adopt a Child’ programme to which donations were given. A big ‘thank you’ to Martin for organizing the ramble and to Maureen and the ladies of the church for our refreshments.


Our A.G.M. followed, quite the least ‘fuddy-duddy’ A.G.M. I’ve ever attended --- and with many laughs!

                                                                                                                        Susan C.an C.


Nethy Bridge  25th May 2011

After two days of horrendous weather the day dawned calm and dry for the ramble through part of Abernethy forest.  The rain stayed away, except for a sprinkle as we wended our way home along the river Nethy.  Melanie, the ranger for Abernethy forest, guided us along the new 'all abilities' trail ably assisted by Susan C., the member who organised this ramble.  They pointed out interesting features including an old building being restored from its original function as stabling for the horses used in hauling timber when the forest was run as a commercial business. Melanie then took us to the feeding area to see where birds and red squirrels were fed. We were lucky enough to watch some!   We then went up through part of the Caledonian forest which had a ground cover of blaeberries and juniper.

Next we saw where there used to be a nursery for forest trees bordered by ancient beech hedges and three enormous Wellingtonia red cedars.  We then dropped down to the river walk where Melanie pointed out various wild flowers and grasses growing abundantly by the water.  Altogether a delightful and varied ramble concluding with a picnic lunch and a good blether in the church hall.  Thanks to all who organised this most enjoyable day.   

Elizabeth R.


Ramble at Brodie Castle on 19th April 2011

It started out as a lovely sunny morning, and stayed that way for our ramble.  We all arrived at the Brodie castle car park, which has good disabled facilities, got sorted out with our scooters and with Peggy at the helm we rode off. (She worked for the National Trust's Brodie property and still does when called upon).  It had turned a little cooler and with the threat of a rain shower in the air, we soldiered on. Seeing loads of daffodils and accompanied by lots of cheerful bird song we entered the 'Secret Garden'. Well that's how it felt - the sudden heat as we entered the daffodil garden,  that has loads of different varieties.   I could feel the history of the old castle and how life was back then.  With a walk past the 'pond' and all the wading birds nesting, we came to the end of what was for me a very enjoyable first of the season walk.

Thanks to all of you who organised such a lovely day, and look forward to more exciting and valuable outings. 


Peggie’s Quiz     Wednesday 16th February 2011

More than 20 members met at North Kessock Mission Hall for a delicious soup and sandwich lunch prepared and served by the ladies of the village. This was followed by Peggie’s quiz. We have enjoyed several of these in the past and, in 6 or 7 teams, have endeavoured to answer questions on such subjects as advertising, food, insects and pot luck. There was much hilarity as members realised  - not for the first time - their limitations in the memory department! There were prizes for the lucky winning team.

Thanks to all who made the meeting such a success, especially Peggie, who compiled and ran the quiz.

Margaret A.


Sue’s talk on Nepal  -   Wednesday 19th January 2011

After an excellent lunch provided by the ladies of the North Kessock Mission Hall, we settled down to listen to Sue’s account of her travels in Nepal. First of all she gave us a brief account of her adventure as a volunteer helper on the Jubillee Trust Tall Ship sailing to the Canary Islands. Disabled participants, helped by able-bodied companions, carry out many of the daily tasks required to keep the boat on course, including being hoisted up to the crow’s nest as a look-out!

In Nepal Sue and her daughter Mairi spent 3 months volunteering in two separate children’s homes. The first housed 100 girls aged 3-21 years. The girls were very motivated and organised, having a rota for all the daily jobs. Sue helped them with homework and leisure activities. At the second home, Sue stayed with a local Hindu family, sharing their very basic daily lives. Each long day started at 6am with their first of most meals of rice and dhal. They all lived in one room and electricity was intermittent.

Before and after their volunteer work, Sue and Mairi had time to explore bustling Kathmandu, more tranquil Pokhara and a trek up into Annapurna Sanctuary. Their experience was not without difficulties, including dealing with leeches that got everywhere, and witnessing riots in the streets.

Our thanks to Sue for sharing her wonderful adventures and brightening up a cold winter’s day.



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Ramble Reports 2010