Jul 212017

By Duncan Harley.

In this comprehensive guide to Scottish mountain bothies, Edinburgh writer Geoff Allan reveals the unique network of mountain huts and bothy cabins which inhabit our wild places.
Geoff has variously hiked or biked to every known Scottish bothy and in this stunningly illustrated book he details all of the 81 Mountain Bothy Association maintained bothies and, in addition, points the way towards the lesser-known wilderness gems.

Defined in the pre-amble as “A simple shelter in remote country for the use and benefit of all those who love being in wild and lonely places” remote bothies are often romanticised and Geoff’s short but concise take on the beginnings of the bothy movement cuts to the chase and advises the reader what to expect of typical bothy accommodation.

Facilities are quite rudimentary. “As a bare minimum” he cautions “bothies will have a table and a couple of chairs.” Answering calls of nature will however involve a short walk plus the use of a spade “Select a location at least 200yds from the bothie, dig a hole at least six inches deep and bury your deposit.”

It is this Spartan attention to detail which makes this outdoors guide invaluable. Not only does Geoff list those bothies which actually have loos, there are eight in the entirety of Scotland, but he takes care to inform the reader about the essentials of bothy etiquette and of the common sense philosophy of leaving the building in the condition in which you might wish to find it.

Essential equipment such as kit, food and fuel is discussed in minute detail and the Mountain Bothy Code is set-out for the benefit of those heather-crunchers intent on taking the high road to those solitary places for the first-time. Regard for surroundings and respect for fellow users head the list and a cautionary warning for the unwary suggests that all rubbish should be placed in the nearest rucksack and carted home!

The core of this book is of course a detailed description of the bothy shelters. Split into regions, the 100 or so buildings are described by size, facilities and location. A useful general history of each building follows and walking routes are detailed alongside breathtaking images emphasising the remoteness of these hidden treasures.

Superbly illustrated throughout, this clearly written travel-guide will both inform the casual coffee-table user and provide an exhaustive reference source for outdoor folk intent on extreme bothy bagging.

The Scottish Bothy Bible (304pp) by Geoff Allan is published by Wild Things Publishing Ltd at £16.99 ISBN 9781910636107

First published in the July edition of Leopard Magazine

May 052017

With thanks to Diane Smith.

The Moray Way Association has received £6000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival and a project based along the Moray Way, Moray’s 96 mile long distance walking route.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the projects will focus on events that uncover the historical, archaeological, architectural, natural and the landscape heritage of Moray.

This year the festival, which runs from 16 June to 25 June 2017, will have a ‘heritage’ theme with more events than ever exploring Moray’s built and natural landscape.

Highlights of the programme will include two events by Moray based historian and writer of The Making of a Scottish Landscape, Dr John Barrett; Ghost Towns – deserted settlements in Strathavon, where you will be able to explore the remains of a lost culture and, A Royal Burgh: the making of Medieval Forres, a walk tracing the origins and development of the town. 

The events are proving to be popular as an extra date has been arrange for the Ghost Towns walk which was sold out in a week.

The programme has a wealth of other historical and natural heritage events organised by local community groups like Speyside Visitor Centre, Cullen, Deskford & Portknockie Heritage Group, Forres Footpaths Trust, the Dava Way, Belles on Bikes Moray and Findhorn Village Heritage, alongside organisations such as Wild Things!, Outfit Moray, Forestry Commission, Moray Council Ranger Service and Ace Adventures.

Over the 10 days there are 50 plus events right across Moray, from Tomintoul to Lossiemouth.

Back again this year is Moray Way Five Day Challenge in which participants walk the 95 miles of the Moray Way over 5 days.

The walk, which includes the Dava Way, Moray Coastal Trail and the Speyside Way, provides participants with a ‘park and ride’ service to make it easier to complete the long distance walk, with options to just walk sections of the route. Also, returning this year is the famous Dava Way Ghost Train Walk, the Secrets of Pluscarden and Secrets of Spynie which participants rated as excellent last year.

For those who are looking for adrenalin rush then Ace Adventures are running their water sports events every day of the festival at special reduced prices. You can see the River Findhorn from a different view with cliff jumping, canyoning and white water rafting. They are also running their growing activity, Disc Golf.

This year the programme has several firsts;

  • Moray Speyside Film Club are hosting a special “Outdoor” themed evening of films,
  • a Wild Swim event will be taking place in Lochindorb with Vivienne Rickman- Poole, artist, wild swimmer and listed in the top 19 San Miguel Rich List ‘alternative rich’ as well as Calum Maclean, of ‘Wild Swimming in Scotland’.
  • A unique and special opportunity with The British Biathlon Rifle Club to spend several hours learning to shoot small-bore rifles in the marvellously unique Olympic discipline of biathlon. 

As well as supporting events in the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival the funding will also help the development of a long-term plan to increase awareness of the Moray Way. Funding will support a commission artist to work with communities along the Moray Way to gather stories which can then be used to promote the route. This project will expect to start in the summer.

Commenting on the award, Bea Jefferson, Chairperson of the Moray Way Association said:

“We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players. Each year interest in the event flourishes and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ensures that we can keep growing. We look forward to celebrating Moray’s natural and built heritage through the Festival and our Moray Way project.”

About Moray Way Association

The Moray Way Association was founded in 2011 with the aim of creating Moray’s long distance walking route, The Moray Way, a 96 mile circular walking trail. Since 2012 the organisation has also organised the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival with the purpose of encouraging walking and other outdoor pursuits in Moray. www.moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

For further information, images and interviews please contact Diane A Smith at Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival on 07764615517 or info@moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Apr 292016

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Glen Tanar Tower O’ EssGlen Tanar Estate on Royal Deeside will welcome over 570 Scouts from all over Scotland during the May Day bank holiday weekend as they pitch their tents for The Highland Adventure Camp.
The four-day event is the largest camp held in Scotland for Scouts, and the estate will be used as the backdrop for activities ranging from rafting to circus skills.

The camp will be set up  next to Glen Tanar Visitor Centre from Friday, April 29 through to Monday, May 2 and will involve hundreds of tents being pitched over the weekend to create a mini-village inhabited by Scouts aged 11 to 14, along with adult volunteers.

During the adventure camp, which rotates in location each year from the Highlands to Lowlands and the Islands of Scotland, the youngsters will be encouraged to take part in many different activities, including backwoods cooking, crafts, zorbing, archery, grass sledging and even movie making.

They will also have the opportunity to participate in geocaching – a fast-growing activity which Glen Tanar Estate has helped to pioneer on Royal Deeside – where participants try to find ‘treasure’ in the landscape.

There will also be the opportunity for Scouts to learn about the management of the estate and the wildlife to be found in the countryside near Aboyne, and help the Glen Tanar Charitable Trust Rangers on a special project.

Estate owner Claire Bruce says everyone at Glen Tanar is looking forward to welcoming the youngsters.

She adds,

“We feel incredibly lucky to be able to call Glen Tanar our home, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with such a large group of young people.

“We actively encourage people to get out onto the trails and hills of Glen Tanar and enjoy what it has to offer, and the fact that the Scouts are going to be enjoying such an incredible range of activities while they are here is fantastic. It just goes to underline how many different activities can be undertaken in the glen.

“The camp will take up quite a large area near the Visitor Centre but other than that, there will be no restrictions on visitors and we hope that everyone from walkers and cyclists to horse riders will be in the great outdoors enjoying the glen and its scenery over the May Day bank holiday weekend.”

The camp is organised by Bishopton Scouts and has been running annually since 1989: it is the biggest event of its kind in Scotland.

Colin Dair, the camp chief, adds,

“Not only do the camps give Scouts the chance to meet and camp with other Scouts from all over the country, it is an opportunity to experience a wide range of exciting activities.

“As well as the many volunteers in Scouting who make this event possible, we are very grateful to the Estate for allowing us to camp in the grounds.”

Glen Tanar Estate near Aboyne is set in the heart of Royal Deeside within the Cairngorms National Park and offers a wealth of activities and attractions from fishing and walking to adventuring on estate safaris. Glen Tanar Estate’s grand ballroom is available to hire for functions, including corporate events, weddings and conferences and the estate has a number of self-catering holiday cottages.

For more information visit www.glentanar.co.uk

Jan 212016

By Tom Shepherd.
Bennachie cairn 27_12-2015 trimmed

I‘m often at my best when I’m alone
A cairn or tree behind my back my throne
The sun to be my hearth and to my ears
Soft wind amongst the grass gathered courtiers.
It’s here I best hear both my mind and heart
To be myself, not play another’s part
Where racing thoughts can finally be stilled
And a desire of peace truly be filled.
Bird song the brightest natural fanfare
Breezes bring gifts of nature scented air
A changing tapestry of life is shown
Each day to me as I sit on my own.
But should the black dog herald gathering cloud
And silence alarm by growing ever loud
The arms of friends and of my family
Can shelter me more than could cairn or tree.
  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 262015

Glen Tanar Tower O’ Ess With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

A country estate on Royal Deeside is offering stressed out shoppers the perfect antidote to crowded shopping malls – a festive pop-up shop packed full of locally produced Christmas gifts. The store at Glen Tanar Estate, near Aboyne, is also selling Christmas trees and holly wreaths sourced from its very own nursery.

The cosy shop has been created in the Coats Room – a brand new multi-function meeting space within the main estate complex.

The shop opens on November 28 and will stay open until December 22.

It is the second year that Glen Tanar Estate has opened its festive pop-up shop. Estate owner Claire Bruce explains,

“For many years we sold our Christmas trees and holly wreaths down at the nursery, and we would get people making the trip to see us from quite a wide radius.

“When we opened the Coats Rooms late last year, we realised that we could actually use it to add to the festive retail experience and decided to launch the Christmas pop-up shop. It was a huge success and people have been asking for months if we would be opening again this year.

“The feedback we received was really positive, especially about the quality of the products on offer as they were all locally produced and not available anywhere else in the local area.

“We are continually striving to find new and interesting additions to what we offer here at Glen Tanar and we feel that the pop-up shop has been one of the most exciting yet. All we need is for the snow from the weekend to stay and we will be a real winter wonderland.”

This year there are even more local and Scottish gifts to choose from at the pop-up store. Shoppers can expect to find homemade jams, chutney and preserves from Glen Tanar’s own Liz’s Larder label, as well as small accessories and homeware in the estate tweed, including coasters, ties and purses.

There is a large selection of greetings cards, handmade jewellery, biscuits, fudge and Glen Tanar Estate’s own calendar, featuring images of the stunning landscape and wildlife that the glen is famous for.

The Glen Tanar Estate pop-up shop is open seven days a week 9am – 4pm.

Located on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, Glen Tanar Estate is close to Aboyne and is under an hour’s drive from Aberdeen. In addition to walking and cycling trails, it offers outdoor pursuits, Land Rover  safaris, bird photography packages, pony trekking and fishing. For further information, visit www.glentanar.co.uk

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.