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RAMBLE REPORTS 2022
(click here for links to archive reports from previous years)


 

Little Garve - 22nd July 2022

Our group of 6 scooter users, 9 volunteers and the van team arrived at the small Woodland car park at Little Garve. Parking was limited but we all manged to squeeze our vehicles into the various bays. Sadly Peggie had had to call off as she was feeling very under the weather.

We set off over the ‘Wade’ Bridge, actually built by Wade’s successor Major William Caulfield around 250 years ago, part of a military road between Contin and the west coast. Historically the route had been used over many years by drovers herding their cattle to Muir of Ord and markets further south.

We were impressed by the grand view of the Blackwater river, cascading over rocks. The river flows into Loch Garve before joining the River Conon.

We turned left on to a well-made path gradually rising higher above the river. We stopped for views down the river and to sample tasty blaeberries. Then up a short steep path on to a wide forest track. Kathy used a scooter to save her breath, and shot up like a bullet! Gradually we had better views of the Strathconon hills and around as we descended the track, Graham finding and passing round wild raspberries.

We stopped for our picnic by a bridge, fairly free of midges, where Rosemary carried out the raffle for HDR funds. We continued down to the minor road that links Garve with Little Garve. After a trundle along for a bit we returned to the car park, seeing families enjoying themselves in the Wyvis Woodland Play Park.

Elspeth

 


 

 

Corrimony - Monday 4th July 2022

This is July.  It should be summer!  It was pouring when we reached the parking area where the two vans with the scooters had already arrived.  Martin came over to the car to explain that a load of gravel had been dumped in the middle of our intended parking area, so we would have a slightly longer walk.  It was fortunate that there was a suitable alternative parking area!  Sitting in the car, we watched the scooters being unloaded in the rain but, miraculously, when we were ready to go, it stopped.

We were expecting farmer, Lindsay, and RSPB manager, Simon, to join us but neither was available, so Martin introduced us to the area.

We were on Corrimony Farm, an upland farm, home to the Girvan family and their 140 Stabiliser breeding cows and 900 Lleyn sheep.  The farm is also home to Loch Ness Pumpkins, the very first Highland pumpkin picking patch, which is in its fifth year.

Shortly after passing a small hump-back bridge over the River Enrick, the road becomes a track, turns away from the river onto the RSPB nature reserve and climbs a gentle, but rather long hill.  The scooters took it in their stride but some of us walkers were a bit out of breath by the time we reached the top.  The moorland opened out before us.  We could see five wind turbines on a nearby hill and Loch Comhnard far below. 

After a welcome rest for our picnic lunch and the raffle, we returned by the same route – all downhill - whew.

Along the sides of the track we could enjoy pink foxgloves and the yellow flower clusters of lady’s bedstraw at their best.  Thistles were still mostly in bud.  Lower down we saw fields of sleek red-brown cattle and white sheep.

Back on the farm road, Graham stopped and pointed out Mony’s Stone.  I had not noticed the slender six foot high Standing Stone on the outward journey as it is rather hidden in the shade.  Mony’s Stone marked the burial place of the son of a Viking chieftain.  Graham told us it had been moved from its original position by sliding it on seaweed!

As we approached the parking area we passed a gate beyond which is the Corrimony Chambered Cairn.  This Cairn is part of the Clava group of cairns which date back 4,000 years.  As the cairn is not accessible to scooters, we didn’t explore it.

Well done and thank you to Dave, Ruth, Graham, Elspeth and Martin who looked after us and got the scooters ready in the rain.  Fortunately the rest of the day turned out very pleasant – calm and cool.

                                                                                                                        Alaine

 


Aldie Burn  -  15th June 2022

HDR ramblers and volunteers arrived at the Aldie Burn Car Park and were greeted enthusiastically by our ‘friends’ the Highland Midges.

Aldie Burn is part of the Morangie Forest managed by The Forestry Commission. Tthe forest can also be also be accessed from the Tain Hill Car park on the other side of the Forest. Our volunteer van drivers, usually prompt to arrive, had a slight navigation problem with one vehicle. This appeared to involve a discussion about Guitars and a slight delay occurred whilst the van now at Tain Hill car park travelled to Aldie Burn. (I am sure our Chairman Martin has the full story!).

The delay enabled a local dog walker to share his own morning experience of watching deer at the edge of the forest and his hopes we would enjoy the same. We soon had all ramblers ready and a brief history of the area was shared. This included how the Burn was until the mid-1980s the water supply to the nearby town of Tain. How a ruined croft house at Mineral Bank to be seen on the walk was last inhabited in the 1920s, when the final family left as unable to make a living off the land. The final of the 3 original watermills in the burn ceased production in the 1960s.

Highland Midges did not travel with us and remained behind at the parking area. We rambled along smooth graveled tracks past wild flowers, mixed tree planting including areas of managed forestry with tall conifers and pine. Unfortunately, there was no sight of wild life. Deer, capercaillie, pine martins and dragonflies all known to live in the secret places alongside the track.

A short stop for lunch at the ‘Dog Grave’ gave much conversation on what the term ‘Road Hog’ meant. Geordie was killed at 11 years old after service with the 3rd Battalion of The Cameron’s regiment on the 09/08/1928 by a road hog near Perth. The then dog owner’s croft house is long gone but Geordie’s grave stone remains.

Returning by the main forestry track we took a final link past the salmon shaped dipping ponds continuing our journey to the car park past the latest ‘housing development’ known as Aldie Fairy Town. Our ramblers enjoyed the gentle reminder to the fairies not to use nails to secure their housing to the trees. Clearly many children and no doubt adults too, leaving treasured items to help the Fairies in this developing community housing project.

                                                                                                                                    Janet

 

BRAHAN ESTATE, Tuesday 24th May 2022

We gathered at the Estate buildings at Brahan, casting anxious glances at the sky; several of us had driven through pelting rain to get here. We set off along the road in front of the Estate office under beautiful trees in full leaf, everything bright and fresh after the rain. We turned right and right again, completing three sides of a rectangle, and then after a short detour to see the “Big House” we turned down into The Dell, a beautiful area of mature specimen trees and the massed rhododendrons and azaleas for which Brahan is famous. A few were going over, but many were in full dazzling bloom; off to our left was a little ravine and on the other side of it the bank was a mass of glorious yellow azaleas. We were also treated to carpets of bluebells and elegant clumps of comfrey.

Some of the trees were spectacular and appeared to be of considerable age. Like so many Highland estates, Brahan had benefitted from a Victorian owner who avidly collected exotic trees. According to the Tree Records of Britain & Ireland, Brahan holds 12 Scottish Champion trees, five of which are also Britain and Ireland champions. The more able-bodied among us were constantly darting off into the undergrowth to read the plaques attached to many of the trees.

We took another detour to visit the pond, occupied by a pair of swans which seemed to spend the entire time head down and rear-end up in the water, and several Little Grebe, or dabchicks, which were enchanting.

Sometime around this point a few drops of rain splattered. We all scrambled for our waterproofs (Madelyn disappeared into hers and had to be rescued) and naturally by the time we had managed to get togged up for rain, the shower moved on and we spent the rest of the ramble in sunshine.

We carried on down towards the River Conon, and turned right along the bank; the river was flowing quite fast. We found a nice spot under the trees for our lunch, probably to the despair of the angler standing waist-deep in the river just in front of us. Eventually he moved on. After lunch we returned along the bank, past the point at which we had arrived, and went on to the Fishermen’s Hut, where several anglers were sitting partaking of tea and sandwiches. As we all streamed past, one of them asked us which motorbike gang we were?

Back up the track we went, with trees on one side and open fields on the other, and we had a couple of delightful wildlife encounters; first of all a chaffinch which sat on a branch right beside the track, apparently posing for his photograph, and next a couple of roe deer on the far side of the field of barley on our right. They stood elegantly for a minute or two and then bounced off into the woods.

We arrived back at the vans feeling we had had a glorious ramble in some spectacular surroundings; many thanks to Brahan Estate for hosting a wonderful day. And thanks to Elspeth for organising us, herding us, and answering all our queries about wildflowers!

Rosemary.


 

Badenoch Way Ramble on Thursday 5th May 2022

It was a rather overcast morning when 20 of us met up at the Dalraddy Caravan Park, just south of Aviemore.   Martin introduced us to 3 new scooter users Ian Hallam, Jimmy McEwan and Len Black, new volunteer driver Moray Brewster, and to the Chief Executive of Cairngorm National Park, Grant Moir, who joined us for the first half hour of our Ramble.

In rather cool, drizzly, conditions we set off through an underpass below the main Highland railway line and turned immediately southwards onto an excellent all- weather track, part of the Speyside Way.  The track ran parallel with the railway at this point but to our left (east) was a large expanse of rough grazing, occupied in the distance by sheep with lambs. When we reached a point with a good expansive view of the mountains, we stopped to gather round and listen as Grant explained the role of Cairngorms Connect. 

Bordered by the Cairngorms National Park (east & north), Glen Feshie (south-east) and the Insh Marshes Reserve (south), the organisations work together on a long term plan to restore much of the original mixed woodland by encouraging natural regeneration, tree planting and deer control, as well as helping to look after and expand public access for all users such as ourselves!  The part of the Speyside Way we were using had been one of the more recent sections to be finished- at considerable expense and only after long, difficult discussions.  

Then the grazing gave way to a well thinned, mature stand of beautifully straight Scots pine.  Suddenly on our right a train appeared, a Scotrail HST speeding northwards to Inverness.   The driver gave us a little hoot in response to our cheerie waves!  The trees gave way in turn to a few scattered houses and adjoining fields and rough gardens. In one field a young Clydesdale type horse stood at a gate along with his tiny dark brown Shetland companion. As they looked friendly, a number of us went over and “communed” with them briefly!   There was a modern Gypsy style waggon in the next field, possibly in use as tourist accommodation?

At a junction in tracks, we turned half left onto The Badenoch Way and immediately the landscape changed; the ground became much more hummocky and the trees younger and mostly young birch and willow scrub, but with some older specimens, a number blown over by the winter storms. The little white flowers everywhere were wood sorrel with large patches of blaeberries amongst them.   Willow warblers were singing their lovely lilting songs all around us, and enjoying as we were the sporadic sunshine and warmer temperature.

Somehow, without realising it we had climbed up high enough to be looking down to our left on to a wide channel of scrub and gravel, the flood plain of the River Spey, but where was the river? Our leaders explained it was “hiding” below the steep slope nearest to us; after the recent very dry conditions the water level would be low.

Soon at last it was lunchtime and we stopped in a hollow where some of us sat on the banks of dry scrub still sporting the old stalks of last year’s bracken.   In only a few weeks, if that, these banks would be thigh high with new bracken & sitting in it, let alone walking through it would be out of the question!!

Now we had to retrace our route and there was some excitement as to whether the scooters would manage to climb back up some of the quite steep slopes, but all was well!By this time there were more people about and several cyclists had to negotiate our group, but were all very considerate about it.

On the last part of the ramble many of us had to take off our outer layers as the sun was now much stronger, so we were getting positively HOT!!   Back at base, it was generally agreed we had had a good day’s outing, got back in touch with old friends and started to make new ones.

Our grateful thanks as always to Martin, Elspeth, Graham and our 3 drivers and volunteers without whom none of this would have been possible.

Thank-you!                                                                                                      Eleanor

 

 

Drumnadrochit ramble - 9th April 2022

A shortened ramble for Highland Disabled Ramblers as the AGM was to be held at the Church of Scotland Hall, Drumnadrochit, after enjoying fresh air and a whizz around Drum countryside.

Great to be out and about again and enjoying the company of everyone, and also meeting new faces.  We all met at the Car Park at the new Community Hub (formerly Tourist Info), the vans bringing the scooters, the drivers and helpers and volunteers.  The weather was quite cool with clouds gathering but after a short shower the rain stopped.  Everyone being used to the varied weather and equipped to meet most conditions. 

We set off on a pleasant ramble enjoying amazing views towards Loch Ness and passing through the Balmacaan estate and heading towards Lewiston.  We stopped occasionally to observe and comment on various things of interest and also catching up with our friends as we navigated tree roots, crossing roads etc.

We all cannot thank everyone enough who make these trips possible as it is a complicated affair keeping the scooters road worthy, dealing with the officialdom involved, keeping our finances in credit, recceing our trips and generally being involved in giving us a day out we much appreciate

Eventually we arrived back at Car Park where the vans were waiting and all made our way to the Church Hall for the AGM.  Members of the Church provided us with home baked cakes, tea and coffee, which we much appreciated     Donations were given towards the church’s charity ‘Adopt a Child’, and Rosemary our financial guru had organised the usual raffle for our HDR funds.

Many, Many Thanks to everyone involved in keeping this wonderful Club going.

                                                                       Madelyn

 

Peggie’s Quiz - 18th March 2022

We gathered in the North Kessock village hall where we firstly enjoyed our own picnics.

We had hoped to welcome Highland MSP and local Councillor Emma Roddick for a talk and discussion. Unfortunately she had taken ill in Edinburgh the previous day and was unable to join us.

Instead, at short notice, we were delighted to have Peggie enthral us with another of her excellent quizzes. As there were only 13 of us attending, we divided into 2 teams. The topics ranged from Geography, Scotland and Nature to finish with Pot Luck (I think).  As usual we prided ourselves on what we knew and were educated by what we didn’t. Did you remember from school geography that Australia has the 2nd largest desert area in the world after the Sahara, or that it was the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who first found a route to India via the Cape of Good Hope round southern Africa.?

Great fun was had by all and it was a good chance for us to meet up again.
 

                                                                                                          Elspeth

 

Scottish Islands talk by Alan Hardwick - Tuesday 22nd February 2022

At last 20 of us were able to meet up again indoors at the North Kessock Hall on a bright but windy day. We were delighted to have Martin back with us, now recuperating after his heart operation. He welcomed everyone and gave us an update on our planned ramble programme for the next few months.

As folk enjoyed their picnics, tea and coffee were served by Chris and Elspeth. It was a great opportunity to catch up with members’ news and just see one another again.

We were then transported to the Islands by our own volunteer Alan. Richard has this account of the talk.

“Phew! I’ve just been on a whistle stop tour of the Scottish Islands - and it might just be the best tour I’ve ever been on! I can still smell the sea. 

Alan Hardwick was the speaker and he sped us from Iona and Staffa in the south all the way to Foula in the Shetlands via Lunga in the Treshnish, Canna in the Small Isles, Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda, the Flannans and Sula Sgeir of the Atlantic Outliers.

Besides wonderful land and seascapes Alan included statistics, culture, geology, botany, ornithology and video in a very professional presentation in which he encouraged audience participation to which many Ramblers contributed. He even had us all joining in on the chorus - ‘Rowin Foula Doon’ - while he sang ‘Da Sang o da Papa men’ himself!

It was a lovely way to end a truly terrific talk by someone who knew his subject well and how to present it.      Well done Alan.”

                                                                                                              Richard