The day was over cast, but dry, a blessing after what turned out to be a heavy rain the night before.
We start the day with an arranged meet with Glen Tanar Rangers Eric Baird and Mike Martin as well as a group of teenagers doing their Duke of Edinburgh award at the Braeloine visitors centre. The plan was to give a short talk to the group about our walk, but unfortunately this had to be cancelled last minute due to the consequences of the weather from the night before. The group were still recuperating in their beds unable to meet with us due to having an uncomfortable night and lack of sleep, which was a pity. However on the positive side it also meant we would make an earlier start to the walk, so regardless we had a few pics and a chat with the rangers before heading off.
From the Braeloine centre, a building which has seen numerous uses over the years we cross the fabulous 18th century bridge which crosses the Tanar Water possibly a Wades or Caulfield construction, this forms part of an old Military and Drovers Road from Glen Esk into the Highlands, the road we were taking. From the bridge a tarmac road heads up and out of the Glen in a westerly direction from across the main Glen road, it is a steep incline for about a mile then it levels off about the point there is a junction with another old road called the Queens View this road can be identified by a pair of Victorian entrance pillars. As you cross over the hill into the Dee Valley there are a few interesting carved stones, one which indicates that Edward I came across the road with his army in 1296 and 1303, but some people cast doubt on this being accurate. The stones also indicate Montrose crossed this road with his army as well in 1644. Being a military road there are even possibilities Andrew Murray and his army used it on their way to the battle of Culblean in the Muir of Dinnet in 1335.
Having said the aforementioned about Edward I local history tells us that there had been in fact a castle in Aboyne from before that period and which was handed over or taken over by King Edward I in 1291 and was used for garrisoning his English troops, so it makes it quite feasible that this road was actually used as the stone intimates. (The village of Aboyne was formerly known as Bunty or Bonty).
It is well worth noting as a point of interest that there is close relationship between Aboyne and Glen Tanar and is often cited as being in the same parish, there is a long history that connects the two other than just purely neighbouring boundaries. Today Michael and Claire Bruce run the Glen Tanar estate it is full of history dating back centuries as well as rich heritage and wealth of wildlife see the following link for further information. http://www.glentanar.co.uk/the_place.html
We descend the footpath down towards the Dinnet Bridge, we cross the B976 to the B9158 and to the bridge which spans the River Dee which takes us to the place where we got picked up the day before in Dinnet. Dinnet although a very small village there is a wealth of history which dates back to at least 10,000 BC. Directly across the road from where we stood is a rather characteristic antique shop called the Auld Alliance owned by Dave Hendry full of curiosities and well worth a visit if you like antiques and are in the area. The Deeside way to Ballater continues to the left of the A93, apart from the old station to your right it is quite evident that it formed part of the old railway, due to seeing the long straight path in front of you like a roman road.
The path is cordoned off by an alley way of trees mainly pine with long straight sections of path ahead of you, the trees do thin out to expose open moor land from time to time but it is mainly dense forest.
We passed numerous people mainly using the path for biking, with some stopping to chat to find out what we were up to obviously because we were dressed differently from other walkers. Stopping us to chat in particular were 3 lovely ladies called Joanne Smith, Lynne Duncan and Laura Shepherd from Aberdeen.
When the path reaches the Cambus O May suspension bridge there is a choice of two paths, according to the sign post both an equal distance of 3 ˝ mile to Ballater. We sat for a while at a picnic table to have a bite to eat and a drink envious of others who are having barbeques with the mouth watering smell wafting in our direction. We deliberated which route to take, the cycle path or the walking route and opted for the later thinking there would be less bike traffic. To get onto the path we crossed the white suspension bridge which takes us into a wooded area the path begins like a sheep trail until an old settlement is passed then it opens up to a hard core track. The path winds and twist through Torphantrick Wood, alongside fields and forestry tracks until it reaches a high point where there are fantastic views towards Ballater the path then drops down until it meets the South Deeside road the B976. On meeting the road the path way ends and it is basically along the road edge for the rest of the way into Ballater. Before one reaches the village centre there is a fabulous Victorian bridge which crosses the River Dee, there have been numerous various construction of bridges built over this stretch of water over the centuries, but the construction of this last bridge reverted to granite and Messrs Jenkins and Marr designed a segmental arch bridge having a waterway width of 251ft in four spans of approximately 63ft. This fine bridge shows some construction details reminiscent of Telford's Highland bridges. It was opened by Queen Victoria on 6th November 1885 and is an excellent example of our Victorian heritage.
As a note of interest had we taken the alternative route from the suspension bridge at Cambus O May following the old railway we would have arrived in Ballater at Old Station Place basically the other end of the village, where the final Station terminated on the Deeside line.
Having crossed over into the village we meet once again with Joanne, Lynne and Laura who we had met earlier on route, they invited us to join their company for a drink and feeling rather thirsty after walking did not hesitate to join them in the café bar. While quenching our thirst and chatting with the girls it helped us fill in time while waiting for Elma to arrive with our tents as we are booked into the Ballater campsite for the night, when she arrived we said our good byes to the girls and went to setup our tents and instead of setting up our camping stoves etc we took the easy option of going into the village for a bite to eat. Supper done Elma took us back to the campsite and with us both feeling all the aches and pains of our blisters we were glad to retire to the comfort of our tents, but not before bidding goodnight to Elma glad of her assistance yet again.
Click here for Day 4