Another walk, another loch
We returned to Edinburgh by the twisting inland route through Braemar and Glenshee, which gave us the chance to fit in another walk before returning to the city. I will write more soon about my Edinburgh gloom, but for just now let's have another sunny day out in the hills. The road south from Braemar passes the starting point of the walk to Loch Callater, another easy walk on the flat of about 7 miles.
The path is part of a track known as 'Jock's Road', which refers to a key episode in the history of Scottish land access when in the late nineteenth century the owner of the estate in this area tried to ban all access to the estate. John Winter ('Jock') fought for the right to walk this route, which followed the track of an old cattle drove road used to drive cattle to markets in the south. Legal action in the case went as far as the House of Lords. The case led to the passing of the Scottish Rights of Way Act. Recently in 2005 the Scottish Land Reform Act gave further rights to walkers.
Some sections of the bank beside the burn were planted with native trees, in a similar conservation effort to the one we'd seen at Loch Muick. It all looked very bare and contrived, and I'd love to return in a few years to see the trees looking more natural in the landscape.
At the approach to the loch is Callater Loch Lodge. The building with the green shutters is used for shooting and deer-stalking parties from the estate. To the right are the former stables, now used as a bothy for overnight shelter by walkers. We had a chat with an estate worker who was doing work on the interior of the lodge. He was accompanied by a huge Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, who turned out to be a real softie. I was glad all the same that we were introduced to him as friends.
It turned out that the man we were talking to had built the cairn standing on a hillock just beyond the lodge, in celebration of the Queen's diamond jubilee. He told us all about how he'd built it, sourcing a stone from every farm on the estate. After such a build-up we felt we had no option but to climb up and take a respectful look at it.
Here it is from the other side, all solemn and loyal in its lonely setting.
We had lunch beside the loch, listening to the wind and the cry of a curlew, and watching a diver out on the water.
Behind us, pools in the heather teemed with yet more frogs. Here's one adopting 'classic frog sunbathing posture'.
You've maybe noticed that everything is still wintry-brown. Spring comes late in the hills here. There were some startling patches of colour however from mosses in the boggier sections near the burn.
The twisted black stems are burnt heather branches; the aftermath of the practice of muir-burn.
Back in the car and heading south, we passed Glenshee, one of Scotland's ski areas.
Just downhill from the ski area we came across large heather fires.
Two days of walking in the spring sun left us with the classic Scottish walkers' suntan, which stops abruptly at mid neck and wrists. Still, I would rather have that than the lying on a beach sort.