We moved our walk this week from Friday to Saturday for a couple of reasons. Firstly the weather forecast was more hopeful for the Saturday and secondly I wanted to break the back of getting the spare room decorated! For the last couple of weeks Glen Gairn has been one of the alternatives and this week was no exception. However despite being the favourite, and our normal rule of never changing the plan, we were put off by the thought of an hour and a half sitting in the car to get there. The alternative we chose in the end was Glen Dye, despite our visit there in January, (you can read it here), when we included Clachnaben. This time we decided that we would walk further into the Glen then make it up from there!
We parked in our usual spot about a mile or so past the Clachnaben car park on the B975 road over the Cairn 'o Mount and set off around 9.45. The day was a little overcast but quite warm so the jackets were put through the rucksacks 'just in case.' The only people we saw at the start were two elderly men who set off not far behind us.
First bridge of the day
As always we took our time and had a good look round as we find that no matter how many times we visit there's always something else to see. A good example of this were the reed beds which were so green and lush it's difficult to accept that we've never noticed them before. They've probably always been there and either we didn't notice or were there at a different time of year.
We decided to make our way out as far as the Corr Bothy to have our coffee. We saw quite a variety of birdlife in the first part of the walk, some of which we hoped to identify at a later date! As we always do when we walk here we took a short detour to a weir that we think is part of the raw water reservoir. The reason we take this detour is that when we first visited the weir many years ago, we saw an otter about ten seconds before it saw us - not quite sure who was more surprised! No luck this time though, but still worth the look. We were also delighted to see a live frog as we'd passed a few dried out carcases of ones that had come to a sad end! We also saw a fair number of large dragonflies in a petrol blue colour, but they never sit long enough to be able to photograph them.
We finally reached the bothy but, since it was now lovely and sunny, we decided to have our coffee outside, so turned left towards the river, (the Water of Dye), and, crossing the bridge settled on the bank for fifteen minutes or so. The men who had been following behind us sauntered along the path as we were having our break and we had a chat with them before we left. They were telling us that they looked after the bothy on behalf of the Mountain Bothy Association, (MBA), and gave us an idea of what had been done over the last few months. As always it looks great and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their hard work and dedication.
After coffee it was time to decide if we would walk on or go back the way we'd come, but take the high road instead of the low one to make the walk longer. But as we both felt up for it, we decided to crack on. So we went back to the bothy and turned left, continuing to follow the path up river, (the path eventually goes as far as Glen Esk, not that we would be going that far today). The path here was good underfoot and generally flat so the walking was easy and it gave us time to think about the people who must have populated the Glen in days gone by. It was good fun looking out for what we took to be the remains of cottages or fields or enclosures and trying to imagine how it all came together. An almost impossible task without the help of Tony Robinson and his Time Team colleagues. By now the sun was beating down and the glen was truly beautiful. We had a great view of Mount Battock which was the prominent hill at this point. Hopefully a walk for another day, either from here or maybe from Glen Esk.
We enjoyed a pleasant walk towards the head of the glen still following the lovely Water of Dye as it got steadily narrower and narrower. We were heading for a small hut that looks as if it acts as a sheep shelter, where we'd decided to have our lunch. All along the Glen there were estate bridges some of which were in a poor state and we were glad we didn't need to cross the river at any point! We're always amazed at how some of the trees manage to survive when they're so exposed to all the elements. We came across a lone Silver Birch. It looked as if the tree had fallen over at some point and this lovely tree had literally "branched out" from the side.
As our lunch spot got closer we began to look forward to a wee rest and some sustenance, but first we had to negotiate a bridge over a tributary of the Water of Dye with the intriguing name of The Burn of Badymicks. We decided it was safer to cross one at a time! We had a lovely view from the hut and were happy to while away half an hour or so just taking it all in.
Our route now left the Water of Dye to follow the Burn of Badymicks uphill along a path that has been recently upgraded, but upgraded or not it was still uphill! The slog however was broken up by the odd unusual view - there's still a lot of work going on with these paths and the first piece of machinery we came across was an 8 wheeled buggy, (that's the technical term of course), which I think we might have borrowed had the keys had been in it.
There was plenty of more natural things to look at as well - John particularly liked the pond-skaters!
It was a steady rather than steep pull up and when we got towards the top of the climb we had a nosy at the new shooting butts that are now in place, complete with steps made from pallets - it was very impressive even though I couldn't see over the top being a shorty! This of course is what the building work and path upgrading is all about. I guess the estate needs to pay for itself in some way.
As we neared the top of the Hill of Badymicks, (575m), we met a couple who were coming down our path and they seemed to be heading for Mount Battock. I can only hope they got a view because when we looked back, the top was shrouded in mist.
Mount Battock in the Mist
Our route now took us over a long high plateau towards the distant Clachnaben. There was evidence of more path work going on here and I'm sure that by the time we come back here it will seem less like a wilderness. The landscape has a strange alien feel to it and we chatted about how to describe it and decided that perhaps "lunar" was the best we could come up with. The whole area is very flat with either dark brown peat bogs or very light, almost white, gravel with weather worn mounds of heather that stand like some grotesque parodies of mushrooms. It's very weird and we decided that it would make a good location for an episode of Dr Who!
As we headed towards Clachnaben we remembered to stop and play the usual game of "name the hills we can see" - among them Clachnaben of course, Morven, Pressendye and Bennachie all a bit hazy but we were sure we were right - not!
Apart from the couple on their way to Mount Battock, we had met nobody since leaving the two old boys at the bothy, but when we reached the top of the Hill of Edendocher, (577m), and the junction in the path to Clachnaben, we could see at least half a dozen people up on the tall granite tor. So if we'd had any second thoughts about going across they were quickly dashed. Instead we headed down hill, past yet more machinery including a road roller complete with keys, stopping off at the Cairn of Finglenny to take in the view back up to Clachnaben.
Cairn of Finglenny
From here it was an easy downhill walk, (well with a wee bit of undulation), back to the Corr Bothy where we settled down on the little wall at the front of the building and polished off the last of the juice and chocolate. We had considered taking the alternative, and slightly longer, high road out of the Glen but we were pleased with what we had achieved today so simply retraced our steps back to the car. We had left around nine forty-five and arrived back, sun burned and happy, about half past four.