Monday, 26 March 2012

Aboyne to Mortlich Circuit

Friday 23rd March,

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. No reason really, just that we've had other commitments and we haven't been anywhere new. So today, with Mo's health in quite a good place and the weather set fair, we decided to try a walk listed on the Walkhighland website. I guess the only problem with the description on the website was that it suggested that it was maybe a little more testing than it turned out to be. We managed a reasonably early start and, since Aboyne is in lower Deeside and therefore a fairly short drive, we were able to set off from the square in Aboyne around 9.30. The start of the walk takes in the golf course which borders Aboyne loch and with it being relatively early and the temperature still low the light was quite atmospheric.

Aboyne Golf Course

Aboyne Loch
Golfers at Aboyne are obviously not early starters because we had the course to ourselves as we made our way across a couple of fairways to the lochside path which we followed for a short distance before picking up a detour from the long distance walking route, The Deeside Way, and starting uphill for the first time today through the remnants of an old birchwood.

It was easy walking on a good path and the temperature was rising with every minute that passed with only a fairly brisk wind in exposed places to remind us that we were still in March! We passed through a kissing gate, (at least that's what I'm reliably informed they're called), before breaking out of the trees and getting a view of the tree clad hill for the day.

Kissing Gate (?)

We passed through another couple of kissing gates as the path meandered gently towards the main uphill section. We were walking "against" the Deeside Way arrows along the way but the marker posts and weather meant that there was no navigation involved today, (always a relief for Mo, but I've never understood why. As I've said many times in the past: we're never lost, we're only exploring). Anyway we decided to stop for coffee and chocolate at the next gate which, coincidentally, was at the start of the main uphill section of the day.

Coffee Time

Start of the uphill slog

Q) What's the definition of Scotland in March?
A) A woolly hat and sunglasses!!
Suitably replenished we headed up what turned out to be a relatively steep but short climb through the trees with only limited views back down towards Deeside. The summit cairn is a large bundle of rocks with the remnants of a metal cross on top. As usual we hadn't done any research prior to climbing the hill and although we knew there was a cross there, (the Walkhighland reviewer had mentioned it), we knew little of its history. From what I've been able to find out the cross used to sit proudly on top of the cairn at the end of a long pole that had been concreted in. The pole was still there, but lying down and there was no sign of any concrete! There was however a stone plinth with a bit of the history carved into its surface.

First look at the summit (381m)

Now you know as much about it as I do!!

Cross and pole - not much left!
We decided to use the stone plinth as seat while we decided what to do about lunch and it was while we were sitting there that I got to wondering about what it actually said. Here was a cairn built in memory of some probably rich absentee landlord, by his probably still rich widow and the probably not rich "tenantry of Aboyne" and the left leaning liberal in me wondered just how much say the said "tenantry of Aboyne" had in the erecting of the memorial. Of course I may be doing the man an injustice; he may well have been a great man who held the "tenantry of Aboyne" close to his heart. I duly Googled him and Wikipedia suggests that maybe I was right to be sceptical! We decided to move off of the top to have our lunch before making our way back down to where we had stopped for coffee earlier. From there we picked up the Deeside Way markers and enjoyed a pleasant walk along the side of Morlich with some great - albeit hazy - views along Deeside.

Towards Deeside

Glorious weather but not for photos!
The plan from here was to follow the Deeside Way markers down to pick up the line of the old Deeside railway line and follow that back to Aboyne loch but after passing through yet another kissing gate we took a bit of a detour. There was no reason for this really other than the sight of an old bird trap by the side of a track leading up to a wee hill called Little Hill, (honest check Bing Maps if you don't believe me!). Anyway I wanted to have a proper look at the bird trap because although you see lots of them dotted about the hills they're never normally accessible, so I went up for a quick look. There was nothing interesting to see but now that we were part way up it seemed sensible to carry on to the top.

The summit of Little Hill (266m)

The old bird trap - and a couple of trees straight from Lord of the Rings!!
From the summit of Little Hill it was an easy walk down a grassy path towards the North Deeside road, (A93), but just before we reached it we turned into an avenue of Silver Birch and onto the route of the old Deeside railway. There's not much left of anything to do with the railway apart from the fact that it's arrow straight and passes through a couple of shallow cuttings. It also passes through Rosehill Croft. Now maybe I'm being paranoid, but we were left with the impression that we were not entirely welcome!

Avenue of Silver Birch

Rosehill Croft - not the warmest welcome perhaps
Once we cleared the croft we cut along in front of the Lodge on the Loch to pick up the path around Aboyne Loch then across a still empty golf course and back to the car. It had been an easier, and shorter, walk than we had anticipated even taking into account our diversion up Little Hill. We were back at the car by 14.30 and were left wondering if there wasn't something else we could have done. Never the less it had been a good day out and was another new walk that we will probably do again at some point.

More Photos

1 comment:

  1. My wife used to maintain that couples passing though kissing gates were supposed to kiss when one was on one side and the other was on the other. I don’t think this has any foundation in fact. I was greatly amused by the Marquis of Huntley. To rise to the lofty station of Lord of the Bedchamber (Groom of the Stool) must have been an honour indeed. I expect the tenantry of Aboyne were suitably impressed. Great read, John.
    Alen McF