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RAMBLE REPORTS 2018
(click here for links to archive reports from previous years)



Beinn Eighe - 26th July 2018

In heatwave conditions, we rambled at Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. We set off from the visitor centre at Kinlochewe along a winding path under the trees, past stone “land art” sculptures and carved wooden totems. We were accompanied by Jack Ward, who is deer stalker and reserve officer at Beinn Eighe, and he proved to be an informative and entertaining guide. He explained what was being done in terms of returning the landscape to its original form, by taking out the planted spruces and other forestry trees and encouraging the regrowth of the native Scots pines, and “blurring” the straight lines of the edge of the planted forest. This procedure also involves managing the deer, which would otherwise eat everything in sight, and keeping their numbers to sustainable levels.

Emerging from the trees we began to climb gently through more open land, under a clear blue sky, with breathtaking views over to Slioch in the north, Glen Docherty to the southeast and the bare stony ridges of Beinn Eighe itself to the southwest. Jack told us to watch out for dragonflies (there are four types at Beinn Eighe) and Scotch Argus butterflies. As we dipped back among trees again there was also a profusion of delicious raspberries – although not so many after we had munched our way along the path!

The viewpoints out on the hill were shimmering under the sun. There is almost something unnatural about rambling on the west coast of Scotland and, basically, being too hot! Certainly too hot to want to sit and bake ourselves over our lunch, and we stopped for our picnic in a little car park back in Kinlochewe, blissfully shaded by trees, before plunging back onto the trails of the Nature Reserve.

All in all it was a glorious day, and we could not have seen this wild and beautiful area in better conditions; and the sun, and occasional gentle breeze, kept at bay the really dangerous wildlife – the midgies for which the area is renowned!

Beinn Eighe is the most distant of our rambles, and in the past it has been cancelled at the last minute because of atrocious weather; but this time it was a perfect day and more than worth the effort.

And the raffle raised 30.00 – well done, everybody!

                                                                                                                        Rosemary.

 

 

Glenmore - 9th July 2018

On the ninth of July the Highland Disabled Ramblers had a pleasant ramble along some of the tracks on the south side of Loch Morlich in the Forestry Commission’s Glenmore Forest Park.

After comfort stops at the Glenmore Visitor Centre we parked in the Hayfield Car Park. We had nine scooters, two as spares and for the walkers to ride on when they needed a rest. The tracks were mostly good and through open pine and mixed woodland, with occasional views of the loch. After the “great heat” of the previous week it was quite cool; there had been a little rain overnight, and mist still lingered on the hills, so walking was in a comfortable temperature, though maybe a little cool for those on scooters, but by afternoon the sun had broken through and it warmed up pleasantly.

We found a seat and pleasant level ground under the trees by the side of the loch for our picnics, and we had our raffle draw there – we didn’t know what the prize was but Vic was the lucky winner. There wasn’t much wildlife around, with just a few mallard on the near side of the loch, but plenty of walkers, strollers, cyclists, and dogs, most of whom stopped to chat with us. It was a decidedly sociable outing!

Some of us returned to the Glenmore Visitor Centre to indulge in tea and cakes, and more sociability – a very pleasant ramble, if a little further than usual. Many thanks to Nigel for leading us.

                                                               Pam

 


 

Forres - Friday 22nd June 2018

The day dawned clear and dry but cloudy and was still that way when we all met in Lidl’s car park on the edge of Forres. We were welcomed by Martin and Wilson who then told us the plan for the day. In the past few decades Forres has been flooded, not only by the River Findhorn but also by the Mosset Burn. As a result of these floods we have had two flood prevention schemes put in place and we have previously rambled by the Mosset Burn scheme. This time we were to ramble across the much more extensive (and expensive!) scheme for the Findhorn.

We started by going under the railway bridge to the west of Forres where Wilson pointed out that the bridge had recently been doubled in width. This is because Forres has had a lot of work done on its railway line, a stretch having been doubled to facilitate trains passing one another and we have also acquired a lovely new station. We rambled across the ground where lots of work had been done as part of the flood alleviation scheme admiring the many lovely wild flowers, shrubs and trees that had been planted. Amid all this beauty we couldn’t help noticing that there is still an awful lot of untreated giant hogweed about and one head of flowers was so big that everyone commented on it and many photos were taken.

We duly reached the river which has changed dramatically during the work. It used to be relatively narrow here and was spanned by a Bailey bridge but it has been considerably widened and another three spans have been added to the bridge. After crossing we turned west, going along a footpath on the north bank of the river. The path stops a few hundred yards short of the Findhorn Bridge on the A96 so we turned back to a spot where we could see the traffic across the river and stopped here for lunch. We were across the river from a wooden hut from which wires stretched across the river and Wilson explained that this was part of the flood prevention scheme. The scientists hang instruments from the wires when the river is in spate and can take measurements which can lead to flood warnings being issued. Since we were there at the start of this dry spell the river was very low and it is difficult to imagine the changes which can take place very quickly after heavy rain up country, or more especially, when the snow is melting in the mountains.

After lunch we rambled back to the new bridge when we then turned north, coming out on the “new” road which has been widened and which leads to the wonderful “Wastebusters” depot where all our recycling goes on. From there the road took us over a new bridge over the railway from which we got a lovely view, not only of the station but of Forres with its various towers and spires. From there it was a short distance along the side of the A96 to the car park.

It was a lovely ramble with good crack and, as always, thanks are due to the folk who sussed out the route, drove the vans with the scooters, came as helpers etc and generally made the whole thing possible. A special thanks goes to Wilson Metcalfe who was an excellent guide.

The Ramble was part of the Moray Walking Festival.

Peggie Gordon

 

 

Ramble and AGM at Drumnadrochit - Saturday, 2nd June 2018

As I parked my car at the Church of Scotland hall I noticed that the scooters had already been unloaded and were waiting in a tidy row near the vans.  By 10:30 it was already hot as we set off, with Martin in the lead, on our pre AGM ramble. 

After a short walk along the back roads of Drumnadrochit we passed through the gate into Urquhart Bay Woodlands, which is managed by The Woodland Trust.  This ancient wood is a fine example of ‘wet woodland’ where alder trees and others that thrive from floods grow well.  Once in the woods we could enjoy the cool shade of the trees and the pungent scent of wild garlic.  The bluebells were just past their best, but still much enjoyed.

We strolled along the level path, following the River Enrick to our left, until it comes to a stony beach where the Enrick is joined by the smaller River Coiltie.   Huge tree trunks are brought down during the floods and a metal suspension bridge over the Coiltie, giving access to the shores of Loch Ness, was washed away in 2007.  It is only possible to cross the river when it is exceptionally dry. 

While some of us were exploring the beach, the scooters were turned around and we then retraced our steps back to the Church hall in time for lunch.  The tables had been set out for us with a sumptuous array of cakes on each and a choice of tea or coffee was served by two ladies from the Church.  

We were invited to donate to the charity, Adopt a Child, which provides children in need with nutritious meals and medical and dental care.  The raffle was drawn.  The AGM was well attended and much appreciation was shown for all the hard work and planning which goes on, for our benefit, behind the scenes.

                                                                                       Alaine


 

Brahan Ramble - Thursday 10 May 2018

I am happy to write this report as this is one of my favourite venues on the HDR programme.  It was led by Rosemary and John.

About 20 members, with full complement of scooters, met near the offices of the Estate in sunny but chilly weather.  Most of the paths were wide and  surfaces good, but there were a few potholes.  There were lovely views of the hills throughout the walk.

The Castle was built for the Mackenzies in the 1600s and demolished in the early 1950s and the rubble was used as foundations for the new Conon bridge.  According to Andrew Matheson, the present owner, the Castle was demolished because “it was damp, draughty and dark with 6 feet thick walls and small windows.  It was very big and had dry rot.  No one could find a use for it.”  The Castle had been used as Headquarters for the Norwegian Army in the second World War.

After travelling past the oak avenue of old, magnificent trees we made a detour to see the grave of the last Lord Seaforth and the dog cemetery.

We then went to the lake where a swan was nesting and lunched near the Conon river, then retracing our steps.  The daffodils were past their best and the bluebells and rhododendrons just beginning to flower. Today the 4,000 acre estate has a farm, forest management, a small Caravan Club site, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and a number of holiday homes to rent.

Most of the group met for refreshments at the Auction Mart near Dingwall, bringing to an end a most enjoyable day.

Thanks to all who made this ramble possible.

                                                              Margaret

 

 

Dores to Aldourie Castle - Wednesday 18th April 2018

We gathered at the car park at the Dores Inn (once used as a coaching house from the 18th century on the Inverness to Fort Augustus road). There was a chilly breeze blowing off a choppy Loch Ness, but a few swimmers in their wet suits were still braving a dip.

Once we set off, we were soon in the shelter of the bushes, which lined the back of the beach, but still afforded some lovely views, looking up the length of the loch towards Meall Fuar-mhonaidh (Gaelic for Cold Rounded Hill). We headed along a recently improved path towards Torr Point, where we went through a gate and entered the woods, which were made up mainly of pine, but also mixed with various other species of trees and broom.

The path was generally good for the mobility scooters and wound round to Aldourie Pier, skirting the shore. At the remains of the pier once used by the paddle steamer ‘The Gondolier’, we stopped for a breather and a chance to take some photographs. We then continued to Aldourie Castle, an impressive Scottish Baronial mansion, where Richard managed to acquire permission to ramble through the castle grounds. We found a loch side spot, strewn with daffodils and as we ate our picnic lunches, an osprey was spotted being mobbed by some crows, which added to the interest of the ramble.

We then headed back to the car park, where we retired to the Inn for refreshments. We were fortunate that the weather had remained dry with sunny spells throughout a very enjoyable ramble. No sightings of the monster were reported.

                                                 Norrie



 

Talk on Ardersier Common by John Orr - 20th March 2018

Our last winter meeting was a talk by John Orr, Highland Council ranger for Inverness and around with a special interest in Ardersier Common.   He spoke mainly about the birds, flowers and butterflies to be seen there.

The ‘dingy skipper’ butterfly (a mottled brown job) with a 1 inch wingspan, is fairly rare in the Highlands. Its caterpillars feed on bird’s-foot-trefoil which is plentiful on the sandy shore at Ardersier. The ‘small blue’ butterfly (seen as dark brown with a hint of blue) is even smaller and feeds exclusively on the kidney vetch plant also found here. There are two small colonies of these butterflies at Ardersier and the local residents are growing and then replanting these vetches along the shoreline to fill in the space between the two colonies. This is to try and increase the butterfly numbers.

John showed us photos of various plants that grow on the site and asked us to try and identify them. They included green alkanet (a beautiful blue), burdock and teasel (both with hooked seed heads), early purple orchid and the rarer coral root orchids.

He also showed slides of a number of birds for us to name – chiffchaff, goldfinch, linnet and whitethroat.

The site at Ardersier is carefully managed with good paths, suitable for wheelchairs. The area includes various habitats – seashore, scrub, old trees and seasonal ponds.

An excellent talk, about an excellent well managed site, not far from inverness.

                                                                                                                        Alan S.


 

Peggie’s Quiz - 20th  February 2018

The second of our winter meetings was Peggie’s annual quiz, and after a lunch of soup and sandwiches we settled down to be entertained, frustrated and humiliated in equal measure. As usual the questions were varied and occasionally surprising, and as usual half of us realised we had played our Jokers on the wrong round!

Peggie’s quizzes are always interesting and enjoyable, and this one was no exception. So thank you, Peggie, once again; and I’m sure those of us who had forgotten (or never knew) that Hirta is the main island of the St Kilda group won’t forget it again!

Time to start swotting for next year’s quiz, everyone.

Rosemary

 

John & Rosemary’s American Adventure - Tuesday  23rd January 2018

It was after a tasty soup and sandwich lunch that John and Rosemary took us on their wonderful adventure to the United States of America. 

They eventually reached their starting point of Salt Lake City after suffering the trials and tribulations of International travel.  That meant arriving eight hours later than expected and their luggage a day later.

The idea was to visit some of the National Parks, starting with Yellowstone then Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite to mention only the most popular ones.

A whole range of wildlife vied for their attention including bald eagles, black bears, bison, moose, deer and chipmunks.  The highlight of the trip was to view the eclipse, accompanied by the Japanese Astronomical Club, which proved to be a wonderful experience. 

The journey through to San Francisco, their exit point, was enhanced by a giant elk antler arch, 103 degrees F temperatures, hail storms, thunder and lightning, wild fires and scary railroad trips.  As an aside the only reliable forms of transport on the trip were the Staten Island ferry and their hire car!

We all enjoyed ‘our’ trip with John and Rosemary with their wonderful pictures and entertaining commentary.

                                                                                                                            Steve