Friday 10th June
It was a nice morning when we set off on this walk today. We had decided on a quiet, low-level walk for this week since Mo's health had been a little bit fragile for the last couple of weeks. Edzell is a small town just a few miles west of Brechin and was, for many years the town closest to a major American airbase. Despite this it has remained a largely unspoilt town and always gives the impression of somehow being happily stuck somewhere in the 1950's. It does have one or two claims to fame; there is the Dalhousie Arch at the east entrance to the town; a fantastic town hall in the middle; and a very picturesque church at the western end. For us though the main reason we visit, apart from the general ambience, is that we had a seat put in to commemorate Mo's mum who died in 2006 and who used to "summer" here as a teenager with her family in the years before the second world war.
We started the walk at the car park by the church and decided that, although the route is actually in the opposite direction, we would walk the length of the town and pick up the walk further down river. By doing this we were able to photograph the arch and the town hall before we set of on the walk proper. The Dalhousie Arch which straddles the road at the entrance of the town was built in 1899 by the tenants of the Dalhousie Estate in memory of the Count of Dalhousie, John William Ramsey and his wife Lady Ida. There's an interesting piece about their lives here.
The first part of walk is along the southern banks of the river North Esk which skirts the edge of the town. Initially the river is wide and flows gently over strange flat rock formations and there's a pedestrian suspension bridge, inevitably called "shakkin brig".
At this time of year the well trodden path along the riverbank is lined with trees in full leaf and a multitude of grasses, ferns and wild flowers, none of which we know the names of. However because we knew that this was going to be a walk that was predominately in the woods, we had decided that we would at least make an effort to positively identify some of the trees. So armed with a tree identifier app on my i pod touch we set off.
Although the trees and verges are lovely, they do tend to obscure the view of the river, which is a nuisance, but we did come to the conclusion that the majority of the trees lining the path were beech, so that was a start. We met a man who was working for the Angus Salmon Fishing Authority whose job today was to drag dead salmon from the shallows of the river. Apparently the fish were dying because of the low water over the last couple of months and the fact that there had been an increase in the number of fish in the river this year. We asked if it was necessary to get all of the dead fish out of the river because some of them appeared to be in deep water bur he said that it was actually better to leave them in the water but the public complained if they were left. We couldn't work out why people would complain, but there you go!
The path winds its way along the high steep bank of the river eventually exiting onto the B966 road at the Gannochy Bridge. Turning right, we crossed the river to the north bank and rejoined the walk by going through the blue door into the Burn House estate.
Burn House is now part of the Goodenough College which is an educational institute based in London supplying accommodation and support for predominately post graduate students from around the world. If you want to read more about their activities you can find it on their website here
The path here stays high above the river with steep banks that channel the ever more turbulent waters through deep narrow gorges. At one point however we were able to make our way down a steep path used by anglers and under a derelict bridge with a statue of a leaping salmon.
Also around this area on the walk we came across information boards that told us about the possibility of seeing otters and red squirrels as well as details of the mushrooms and lichens that grow in the area. Well we never saw any otters but we did catch a glimpse of a red squirrel for the second time in three walks. There was no mention of trees though, but by now we were quietly confident that we had seen and could identify Ash, Oak, Sycamore, Silver Birch and Sweet Chestnut as well as the Beech we had seen earlier. We were also pretty sure there were Pine and Larch but they might be open to debate.
There are other "educational" things dotted about like giant wooden toadstools and a carving of a butterfly, (or maybe a moth, I'm not sure).
From here the path makes its way along a quieter river towards the Stones of Solitude, although I'm not entirely certain I could pick them out for you. Somebody told us that we can't miss them because they are huge rocks set in the middle of the river, but having passed lots of huge rocks in the middle of the river, I'm still not sure. Anyway we did eventually come across a horseshoe shaped seat set in a cut out in the cliff and it was here that we stopped for a well deserved lunch.
The only real downside to this walk, apart from so many trees hiding the view, is that the only way back is the way we came. Still it was a pleasant walk and we varied it a little by taking paths further from the river and nearer the Glen Esk road and alongside Burn House.
Once back at the road we retraced the path down the south side of the river. There is a path on the north side that eventually crosses the "shakkin brig" but it's narrow and can be treacherous in wet weather so we decided not to risk it. We cut up a path at that took us out at the west end of the town close to where we had parked the car. We had left at around half past nine and arrived just before three. To be honest it's not a walk that should take as long as this but there is a lot to see with great views - when you get a break in the trees.