Dee revisited, Crathes Castle

Monday’s burst of summer saw clear blue skies and heading towards 20ºC, fortunately being on holiday today and tomorrow meant I could make the most of it.

Setting off from Duthie Park, people were out in force making the most of the sun.

Boaty McBridge face

Boaty McBridge face

Nice day for a row on The Dee

Nice day for a row on The Dee

I stopped for a while near Ruthrieston Pack Bridge.

Ruthrieston Pack Bridge

Ruthrieston Pack Bridge

Built in 1693 and the only surviving example of a pack horse bridge in the area, it has 2 plaques, both pretty worn, one is the towers and leopards of the Aberdeen coat of arms with the motto ‘Bon Accord’ and the other belongs to the Provost at the time the bridge was built who added his coat of arms without the permission due to which the stone was reversed for many years.

Bluebells by The Dee

Bluebells by The Dee

The last time I’d been along the Dee heading past the rive bank path had been scoured and blocked with flood debris to the point of impassibility; not today though. From The Bridge of Dee to Inchgarth reservoir, the path was cleared or had evolved and been trodden into new detours past obstacles, it was a joy to swoop along the leafy shade-dappled trail. Some bits are still very soft sand that tempt front wheel wash-outs, they’ll pack down eventually.

Leafy shadow-dappled path by The Dee

Leafy shadow-dappled path by The Dee

Dee path near RGU

Dee path near RGU

The section from reservoir to shakkin’ briggie is still as it ever was; deep ruts and big boulders = hike-a-bike, or at very best ‘stumble bike’ (feet up like on a balance bike climbing along) all told you’re better to turn right where the path heads through the gorse and circumnavigating the reservoir.

Shakkin' Briggie

Shakkin’ Briggie

Shakkin Briggin caught some floods recently

Shakkin Briggin caught some floods recently

At this point in the year, scrub growth is now sufficiently developed to make the next bit past the golf course, which isn’t as well used, a tufty scratchy pedal catching chore, so I rejoined the Deeside Way via a couple of stern climbs beside Allan Park.

Whizzing past an inert ball of fur, I skidded to a halt. Closer inspection revealed a vole, still alive but in some sort of delirious state; similar to one I saw a month or two back. Not sure whether they suffer from some sort of disease. I placed it in the grass at the side, hopefully safer from bikes and dogs.

I was glad to see the way hasn’t been blocked yet at Milltimber; recent news has highlighted that Aberdeen Council, ever the short-sighted philistines, seem happy to destroy this section of one of Aberdeen’s best loved walking and cycleways either through careless planning or deliberate skinflintery, hoping nobody would notice a 14 month diversion that they no doubt hoped would slide long into the future and prevent them building a bridge over the soon to be roaring traffic barrier of the new ring road. A petition has been set up here to hold them to account on this.

I turned back off the way towards the river at park Bridge near Drumoak, some brave souls were swimming there; you’d have to be a confident swimmer in what is a fairly robust current there, let alone that even on such a hot day I bet the water’s still freezing!

Spring at Park Bridge, bluebells and swimmers

Spring at Park Bridge, bluebells and swimmers

I spoke to a walker nearby; she seemed concerned about what ‘the estate’ would say about my traverse through their territory along the river. I played dumb, not sure whether she was trying to scold me; though I think in retrospect she was (like myself) generally concerned about our rights of way; and that perhaps the estate impinged upon these around here and was curious to know what previous reaction had been. Apparently a game keeper was around. Sooner or later anybody that travels across owned land will come across jobsworths and busy bodies that don’t welcome visitors: a reminder it’s well worth brushing up on the requisite knowledge.

A quick snack break, and I took a chance to look for the OS map marked waterfall, and perhaps let any irate game keeper pass by. I’d looked for it before, turns out it’s about 20m back from the path, well hidden by thick undergrowth and holly. Needs a bit of careful stepping stone hopping in the burn, dooked my trainer a couple times, but a nice wee waterfall.

Waterfall near East Park 1

Waterfall near East Park 1

Waterfall near East Park 2

Waterfall near East Park 2

Waterfall near East Park 3

Waterfall near East Park 3

Further along the Dee I followed the fishing beat tracks, else it’d have been hike-a-bike across sand and pebbles.

I came across an industrially scraped bank, like some giant berm, presumably flood defence or repair.

Dee giant berm

Dee giant berm

Climbing up on top I could see acres of barren scraped ground behind it. Surely this isn’t going to get developed; it may take another few decades but sooner or later whatever they have planned for this area is going to get washed out again. Never under estimate the stupidity and greed of developers though. In a bygone area, flood plains like this would have vegetation to soak and hold water rather than sending it instantly downstream into folks houses.

Flood plain?

Flood plain?

In amongst the rocks an oystercatcher was enjoying the sun

Oystercatchers rock

Oystercatchers rock

Near to the entrance to Crathes Estate, there are 5 bridges in near vicinity, these 2 (the defunct rail bridge, and one for the Deeside way). There’s also the main road bridge, one inside the estate entrance and another by the pond

Double bridges

Double bridges

Crossing the bridge inside the gate leads to an anti-clockwise route around the estate

Stream running through Crathes

Stream running through Crathes

There’s a nice pond just near the gate

 

Crathes Castle pond

Crathes Castle pond

 

Up to the right the path cuts through the trees. I came to these walkways – I could only barely negotiate the width, though I do have quite wide handlebars. Unsteady cyclists might consider walking through this part to avoid any unexpected splashes. I passed a couple with a dog using one of the wider bits to squeeze in to let them by, I imagine on a busy weekend this would not be a good idea as likely too busy.

Walkways over water

Walkways over water

Another bridge heading East

Footbridge and stream

Footbridge and stream

Some nice paths sweeping through the trees

Through the trees

Through the trees

This looks like an old rail embankment, maybe a road.

Old road / train line?

Old road / train line?

Massive lump on this tree, think it might be some kind a fungal thing

Lumpy tree

Lumpy tree

At work we were once going to do an activity team building exercise at Go Ape! that involves aerial walkways. I had an injured shoulder so decided against it. Looking at it now probably a wise move. Quite high up to have the use of only one good arm.

Go Ape!

Go Ape!

It’s a bit wilder towards the North West corner of the estae, and lost the track at one point and hiked back through forestry cut. At the edge I noticed this designated tree, shame I didn’t see more.

Tree sign

Tree sign

Another pond at the North West corner

 

Dark pond

Dark pond

Big old pile of logs

Logs

Logs

Heading back more walkways and streams

More walkway

More walkway

Heading near to the castle, there’s an old graveyard and a field with an island of woods with what appears to be a ruin. The field looked freshly planted so decided against tramping across to explore. One for another day. Nearer the castle the grounds and plants are more ornate. Except this wizened old tree growing out of a rock outcrop.

 

Spooky knoll

Spooky knoll

Beside the castle looking into the gardens. What do we have at Castles? Tapestries? No.. drones. Nowadays one cannot peruse a castle in a suitably respectful stately silence, without the unmistakable whine of a drone overhead. Somewhere nearby there’s a prat that doesn’t care about disturbance or legal use (not to be used overhead public areas or 50m from structures or people). I love a pretty picture, but there’s something about the blunt intrusion and laddish couldn’t-care-less attitude of droners that grates.

Garden

Garden

 

Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle

 

Crathes Castle flag

Crathes Castle flag

Back to the start, about 8km around the outer perimeter of the paths. Nice old tree overhanging the pond foot bridge.

Pond bridge

Pond bridge

Pond again

Pond again

 

Back near Drumoak the trees were swarming with a murder of Crows

Crows

Crows

Up in the sky absolutely loads wheeling around

Milling crows

Milling crows

The way East of Drumoak has loads of rabbits. Lots of baby ones..too cute

Bunny

Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

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