Today’s walk was the first Marine lab one in many months, good to get one back on the go again. The route was in the hills north west of Tarland.

The path started at the big iron gate that blocks an old track into the Tillypronie estate, and the morning sun lit up the fine tall conifers lining this trail.

Gate bypassable around the side on foot
Early morning rays piercing the forest
Old track now a carpet of pine needles over old tarmac

We ascended fron hillside lodge up Scar Hill through Tillypronie wood passing an estate worker who when queried informed us that we’d be ok to pass the mansion house on our intended route back

View towards Morven
A glimpse of a tiny flash of red revealed a wee hidey hole for ladybirds in a hollow twig
Autumn glow
Unusual find: box of shells beside remnants of an old shed

At Overlook loch, as the rest of the party took lunch, I walked round to the mystery sculture that adorns it’s side. (further investigation thanks to the Cairngorm Club’s journals has now revealed more – the work is called St Kilda wake and is by Edinburgh sculptor Ronald Rae)

Sculpture at Overlook Loch, Clachnaben in the background
Reflecting on Overlook Loch’s lots of overlooking larch reflections
Chants past their best
Tiny shrooms

From Overlook Loch we followed an overgrown path heading north west until our group leader Brian (recently recovering from injury) alarmed me by suddenly collapsing face first into the undergrowth! He attempted to rise and fell again – inspection of his ankle showed that he’d been caught in a hidden wire snare, which had tightened around his boot’s ankle (fortunately rather than his leg). Somebody running or cycling here or without a sturdy boot could have been seriously injured – but hey ‘the land must be sterilised for shooting’. Fucking shooting estate twats. Now alerted, we dodged a few more scattered around .

Removed from leg. Not illegal, but not very sensibly placed
Continued with eyes peeled for more traps

One of a few others. If running this would have likely caught me

Leaving woodland we made our way over moor to the top of Baderonoch hill (475m), with it’s shapely cairn, and the strengthening breeze swept in the first sprinkle of rain

Ascending the moor
Conical cairn in the rain
north west
Trig point

We headed east, dipping down then briefly through woods then back up past Lazy well. There’s a red/white post here with a spring and a cup. There’s also a small hut probably to do with the small lochans nearby which are maybe fished. Inside seems to be a favoured hiding place for flies of the non-fishing type, small clusters of slowly moving bluebottles..ich.

Lazy well, one of series of ponds descending north
Fishing hut
Inside was full of fly clusters

Ascending further east across the shallow mound that is Molly Watt’s hill, the views opened up to the south, and also exposed us to incoming cold showers.

Rays cutting through the clouds to sweep over the seas of fields
Incoming clouds
Windswept lichen
Track to Broom hill
Brief burst of blue

Thought of proceeding past Green hill to the higher Broom hill were extinguished by the weather, and a gap in the fence provided an opportunity to descend

A way through as the weather closes in
Marker post

The marker shows that at some point there’s been a designated walk route here, the path down looked quite overgrown though

Overgrown grassy trail

Into the woods of the Davoch plantation, we scattered a few deer reaching Meikl Tom then heading north west

Larchy and licheny
Across the fields

The fields had a concentration of remants of giant puffballs

Giant puffball husk

Past Drummy hillock, we completed a loop along trails nicely overhung by autumned larch before heading down on to farm roads past Reinacharn lodge

Lush grassy tracks n trees
Bonnie cottage
Big horses
Avoiding showers to the south
Lodge on the big house grounds

Reaching the ornately-tree’d grounds of Tillypronie house, I spied a red squirrel which was quickly scared off by the click clack of a colleagues walking sticks. We crept past the mansion in case of awakening the attention any indignant posho’s, but it looked like major refurbishment works in porgress, and the owner unlikely to be in residence. Later discussion in the pub would reveal the owner to be some ex Tory mp and investment banking spiv, with a reputation for being a disagreeable chap.

Tillypronie house
A shapely horse chestnut

Back along the starting track, I pushed on ahead with a mind to go explore alongside Pronie Loch (where locals have recently been excluded from access for kayaking – may well be the work of the incoming snooty-rah-rah).

Back through the woods

The track on the map looping around to the north of the loch is an absolute mare, flooded and overgrown, and the terrain beside it bog and deep clear cut carnage. I abandoned the attempt after flooding my boots a couple times, eecht and emerged from the forest back at the gate in time to meet the rest of the party, like some unkempt wild swamp-beast.

The south west corner of the loch easy to reach but further along…uuuggh

A decent autumn tour was rounded off by a visit to the Commercial hotel for a meal. I never understood why a lot of other groups don’t take this civilised step, chill for a bit and be sociable rather than being in a mad rush to get home.

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