Showing posts from January, 2013

Ski: Glenshee Ski Centre

Aberdeenshire | Braemar | Ski centre | ★★★★

Glenshee boasts the largest ski area and biggest lift system in the UK, at the head of the Cairnwell Pass linking Blairgowrie to Braemar in the southern Cairngorms. Two new chairlifts in the last decade (and another coming soon) have transformed The Cairnwell side of the mountain west of the road; eyes will soon turn to the terrain further east where further upgrades are planned. With a top height below 1000 metres runs are generally short and the season can be too, but in good snow conditions this is a brilliant destination for all levels of skier and snowboarder.

Scroll down for a more in depth guide.

Location & info

📌 Glenshee Ski Centre★★★★
Summit of the Cairnwell Pass (A93), 8 mi south of Braemar, G.R.: NO 139781 ///smuggled.downhill.wiggling

Average winter season: Mid December to March, conditions permitting
Day lift pass: £32 adult / £21 child for 2019/20 season
Equipment hire: £23 adult / £16 child for 2019/20 season

Don't miss...

Walk: Drowned by dunes at Forvie NNR

Aberdeenshire | Collieston | Half day walk | ★★★

The barren sands between the coastal villages of Newburgh and Collieston have a starkly otherworldly feel. Colossal dunes dominate the landscape here, reducing you to an insignificant speck as you traverse the sands. Spare a thought for the 15th century inhabitants of the abandoned village of Forvie. The haunting, half-submerged shell of the Forvie Church is all that remains of the settlement, following a terrible storm in 1413 which drowned the houses in sand. The dunes are still moving, and this ever-changing environment is an important habitat for nesting terns. Exploring the length of the inland dunes along with the varied coastline helps you get a sense of the area's sheer scale. Tern nesting areas are closed to visitors between April and August, though this shouldn't affect the route above.

📌 Walk: Drowned by dunes at Forvie NNR ★★★
Start / finish at car park at Forvie Sands visitor centre, off B9003 just west of Colliesto…

Walk: Hill 99 - squirrel's-eye view

Moray | Kintessack | Short walk | ★★

Culbin Forest sprawls for several miles along the southern shore of the Moray Firth between Findhorn and Nairn. A maze of tracks and paths criss-cross this vast forest overlying sand dunes, intersections marked by junction numbers which often serve only to make you feel even more lost. Luckily the Forestry Commission have devised a number of circular walks (print off a map: link below), with the Hill 99 Viewpoint Trail probably the best introduction to the area. Hill 99 (named after its height in feet) is topped with a "squirrel's-eye" wooden tower: steps access this excellent viewpoint above the tree tops. Man-made ponds elsewhere on the walk are a good place to spot dragonflies in summer, attracted by the fresh water that's otherwise scarce amongst these coastal dunes.

📌 Walk: Hill 99 - squirrel's-eye view ★★
Start / finish at car park (with charge) at minor road end a mile north of Kintessack, G.R.: NH 998615 ///summer.sapp…

Dulsie Bridge & Gorge

Highland | Ferness | Bridge & gorge | ★★

The Findhorn is one of Scotland's longest rivers, yet it's relatively little known. Its massive catchment area - covering both the Monadhliath Mountains and the extensive Dava moor - is responsible for occasionally devastating flood events in its lower course. Further upstream, it's a much more difficult beast to become familiar with: long sections are miles from the nearest road while other parts flow through deep gorges with thick undergrowth and no paths. Dulsie Bridge offers a rare glimpse over one of the wildest spots; this arched road bridge dates to 1755 and rises 60 feet above the riverbed.

Location & info

📌 Dulsie Bridge & Gorge ★★
By minor road 4 mi southwest of Ferness (parking on south side of bridge), G.R.: NH 932415 ///protrude.really.force
Always open | Free

💬 Follow a path a little way to the west (upstream) for good views of the bridge.

Walk: Darnaway hideaway - Findhorn west bank

Moray | Conicavel | Short walk | ★★★

This side of the wild Findhorn gorge seems to be more frequented by fisherman than walkers, with various deep pools marked out by wooden signboards and often accessed by steps descending the main path. Nevertheless this is a short and scenic circuit in a region unfairly neglected by tourists. Like much of the Darnaway Forest, there are good autumn colours and opportunities to spot red squirrels. Thick forest canopies ensures the ground stays shaded and damp year-round... but a little mud never hurt anyone, right?

📌 Walk: Darnaway hideaway - Findhorn west bank ★★★
Start / finish at car park off minor road 2 mi south of Conicavel, G.R.: NH 996514 ///bench.pine.craftsmen

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 130 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: Findhorn gorge
Terrain: Narrow paths along the gorge edge, quite muddy at times, then tracks for return.

Route & map

Car park - Dunearn Burn - Findhorn gorge, passing Pool Anchor, Mill Pool & Scuddach Pool - car park via forest …

Ardclach Bell Tower

Highland | Ferness | Historic building | ★★

Ardclach Bell Tower is like a miniature slice of the Mediterranean cut and pasted in the Scottish Highlands. A tiny, yellow tower on a knoll above the Findhorn Gorge now houses the bell for Ardclach parish church below, although it probably originally served as a watchtower and prison! There are two rooms to explore inside.

Location & info

📌 Ardclach Bell Tower★★
By minor road shortly before the steep descent to Ardclach Old Parish Church, G.R.: NH 954453 ///slab.evoke.relate
Always open | Free

💬 The nearest formal parking is at Ardclach Old Parish Church, G.R.: NH 955451 ///piano.bends.copes. From here it's a 10-min uphill walk to the tower, firstly back up the access road, then along a track, then on a path with steps.