RAMBLE REPORTS 2022
(click here for links to archive reports from previous years)
Fort Augustus to Kytra and back - 20th
on a Tuesday, in late September, Fort Augustus was buzzing, living
up to its reputation as a tourist magnet. But amongst the mayhem of
world travellers our group of ramblers slipped in to the main car
park, collected their scooters, which had been kindly brought from
Inverness by Dave and Moray, and high-tailed it out of town, happy
to reach the comparative peace and quiet of the canal tow path.
Martin had given the assembled company a briefing on the remarkable
Caledonian Canal and on safety - don’t drive into the canal! The
group included Kath, Alan, Pam, Peggy, Rosemary, Jimmy and Ian, on
wheels, along with our hi-vis clad team of volunteers, on foot.
Telford’s canal was completed 200 years ago using mainly manual
labour. Its route from Inverness to Fort William is approximately 60
miles in length with around 20 miles of man made canal linking the
four lochs of the Great Glen.
sun breached the general cloud cover as we made our way south to
Kytra, the penultimate lock on the canal’s ascent to the watershed
at Loch Oich. The lock was busy during our lunch stop there and as
well as chatting to folks on their boating holiday we met many
interesting walkers on the Great Glen Way including one chap from
England who’d first walked the West Highland Way from Glasgow!
Back in Fort Augustus klaxons were sounding, red lights were
flashing, the road bridge opened, the traffic built up, crowds
gathered - ‘twas a relief to get on the road home and to reflect on
our really good day out.
Many thanks to all concerned.
Forres ramble - Wednesday 31st August 2022
last ramble was in Forres on Wednesday 31st August and
although the day started out chilly, it warmed up later and was dry.
We met at the Grant Park Car Park where the flowers are still
looking splendid. We were judged for Britain in Bloom almost a month
ago and I thought the results would be out by now but so far I
haven’t heard anything. The Volunteers who look after the Park and
all the flowers in town do a wonderful job. The Council used to do
it but that was one of the cutbacks in recent years.
We didn’t spend
much time looking at the flowers since we would see more of them at
the end of the ramble. Instead we negotiated a tricky little
roundabout – thanks to our high-viz vested helpers - then we made
our way to Sanquhar Pond. Sanquhar Estate was a small estate on the
southern edge of Forres with a big house – demolished in the 1970s
and replaced by a housing estate where incidentally I live
surrounded by wonderful trees with the attendant wild life such as
red squirrels, roe deer (who chomp a lot of garden flowers!) and the
occasional pine marten.
(sometimes known as Sanquhar Loch) was made to provide water for Ben
Romach distillery on the northern edge of the town. Thanks to
another group of wonderful volunteers we are now able to go right
round the pond. They meet on a Saturday morning and have cleared
trees, Himalayan Balsam, weeds etc and resurfaced the path all the
way round now user-friendly for all. We branched off and cut through
Sanquhar woodland to the Flood Prevention work which Wilson
explained to us. The idea is that when we have heavy rain a dam can
be closed and the fields upstream flood then the water can be let
out gradually thus causing lower-lying bits of the town being kept
free from flooding. It was finally opened in 2009 – on a Monday and
severely tested on the Friday – it worked!
then used a path that goes past Wilson’s house (he was our leader)
and we had lunch in his front garden. The day was made even more
special when his wife, Norma, arrived with a lovely tray of cakes!
We then made our way back down Cluny Hill and through the Park
again, this time taking time to look at the floral displays
including the Peacock, The Ladybird and the Beaver. We also had a
detour to the sunken garden built with the stones that remained
after a lovely building, Forres House, was demolished by fire in the
early 1970s. There is also an imposing wooden carving of a Piper in
the Park, commemorating the six years when we hosted the European
Pipe Band Championships. It all happens in Forres, folks!! From
there it was back to the Car Park where some of us indulged in
lovely ice cream from the Park Kiosk.
The usual thanks
go to all the people who make these rambles possible, the drivers,
scooter loaders and unloaders and those who deal with all the admin
beforehand including an audit of the route. We were very fortunate
to have Wilson Metcalf as our leader. He is very knowledgeable about
the area and special thanks go to him and his wife, Norma.
Nethy Bridge 11th August 2022
the weather for the Nethy Bridge Ramble couldn’t have been any
better! A glorious summer day and not a cloud in the blue sky. There
was a great turnout for the day with over 20 scooter users,
volunteers and helpers. We were also delighted to be joined by
Juliet and her sister Hilary. Juliet lives in Nethy Bridge and has
been an HDR member for many years so it was great to be able to
bring this ramble to her doorstep.
Meeting at the car park at the Visitor Centre we were able to see
the Highland Games area being set up for later that weekend. We were
then joined by two local guides for the day, Chiara and Sarah.
Chiara is the Cairngorms Connect Ranger and Sarah is the Abernethy
off along the banks of the River Nethy, the trees offered us some
shade from the sunshine. We heard about the birds, trees and the
plants in the area from our guides as well as knowledgeable
ramblers. Crossing over into the King’s Road trail we rambled along
the woodland paths stopping for lunch under the shade of some
majestic pine trees. We all continued back to the Visitor Centre,
some taking a slightly longer route on the Birch Wood Trail over a
bridge and past a pond. Many people picked up trail maps from the
Visitor Centre, keen to explore more at another time!
Several of the volunteers, together with Juliet and Hilary finished
off what was an excellent day at the local Spa Shop where we cooled
down with ice cream before all heading back up the road home.
This has certainly been my favourite ramble so far, great people,
great weather and great route!
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.
impressed by the grand view of the Blackwater river, cascading over
rocks. The river flows into Loch Garve before joining the River
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.
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.
Corrimony - Monday 4th July 2022
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.
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.
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.
welcome rest for our picnic lunch and the raffle, we returned by the
same route – all downhill - whew.
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
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.
Aldie Burn - 15th June 2022
ramblers and volunteers arrived at the Aldie Burn Car Park and were
greeted enthusiastically by our ‘friends’ the Highland Midges.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
BRAHAN ESTATE, Tuesday 24th May 2022
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Badenoch Way Ramble on Thursday 5th May
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
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.
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
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.
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
thanks as always to Martin, Elspeth, Graham and our 3 drivers and
volunteers without whom none of this would have been possible.
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
keeping our finances in credit, recceing our
trips and generally being involved in giving us a day out we much
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.
Peggie’s Quiz - 18th March 2022
in the North Kessock village hall where we firstly enjoyed our own
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.
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.
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.”