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Sunday June 15th 2014 - Ballater to Braemar - Day 4

We woke up to yet another dry day always a blessing for getting our kit away without being sodden , the weather forecast was always the first thing to be checked so it gave us a picture of what we had to expect for the day, no sooner were we up and about than Elma arrived on the scene. We have a bit of breky, put powder and blister plasters on our feet then pack up our gear, we discuss the day ahead with the walk being roughly 17 miles, then having checked the rendezvous point on Ballater Green at 8.30am to make sure there were no others wanting to join us we make our way to Telfords bridge crossing the River Dee as mentioned from the previous day. We part with Elma at the far side of the bridge in Ballater on the South Deeside road and take to the tarmac of the B976, this road is undulating, winding and twisting all the way to the point we branch off of it to pass through the Balmoral Estate.

As a point of interest, the Deeside railway line terminated at Ballater with this being the case most of our way forward to Braemar is by road, the Deeside line halting at Ballater was due to Queen Victoria buying all the land around Balmoral so the railway could not be extended any further to protect her privacy from tourists.

The views and scenery are fantastic all the way along this road prior to Balmoral, the weather was warm with blue skies which made the visibility stunning, en route we passed beautiful Victorian buildings, old graveyards and other monuments from the Victorian era.

We pass the white suspension brig at Crathie and the temptation of the Lochnagar Distillery until we arrive at the gates of the Balmoral Estate. We had a few brief words with the tour guides who were intrigued by our dress and to what we are doing, then we meandered along the main drive to the amusement of tourists before branching off to the left to a path which takes us up and around the back of Balmoral Castle. There is a fine bench overlooking the castle grounds at the top of the small incline, so we thought we would chill out for half an hour, take in the view and have a drink and a bite to eat in the warm sun.

The path we were now on takes you through the grounds of the Balmoral Estate passing the estate workers homes and equestrian areas so it is tarmac for at least a couple a mile out where it changes to forestry tracks. The track seems never ending as it is mostly engulfed in pine trees and views are restricted, but does clear at times to expose the hills around Lochnagar. We cross a few newly constructed wooden bridges and come across a fantastic Celtic cross set back from the track partially mounted on the side of the hill, the inscriptions seem to indicate it to be from the Victorian period. A couple of miles from the end of the track there are numerous tracks which branch off with no signs indicating where they go and any of these paths can be easily mistaken for the right one, but donít stray off the main route, it is a bit like following the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. The end of the track kinda comes to an end all of a sudden with a fabulous example and well preserved Wades Bridge which is the crossing point over the Dee, this is the old Invercauld Bridge and has history of being used during the Jacobite period.

We cross the bridge and rest our feet, giving Elma a call to inform her we were on the A93 near Braemar part of the old military road.

We make our way to Braemar Castle where it was pre-arranged we could camp in the fabulous setting of castle grounds, Elma arrives and stays with us for a while after setting up camp then leaves for home indicating she will be back at 8am the next morning. Another day completed we have an early night as we know we have long days walk through Glen Tilt in front of us, roughly 26 miles.

Click here for Day 5

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