Aug 202017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

A North-east bike ride is to cater to those of the four-legged variety, with the launch of a new ‘doggy daycare’ service.

Furry visitors to this year’s Chapelton Bike Ride, which takes place on Sunday, September 3, will have access to a ‘doggy pit stop’, thanks to a local dog walker.

Chapelton resident, Jenna Smith, who runs Long Dog Walkies, will be providing complimentary treats, toys and water to weary pooches on the day of the bike ride.

She will also be running a raffle, giving one lucky dog owner the chance to win a hamper of doggy treats.

Owners can choose to stay with their pets, or leave them with Jenna for a short period of time, whilst they browse the full range of stalls and activities on offer.

The 28-year-old came up with the idea of the doggy pit stop after noticing the high number of dogs in attendance at last year’s bike ride, prompting her to contact the organisers of the event to offer her services.

Held in aid of North East Sensory Services (NESS), a charity that supports over 6,500 people with sensory impairments across the North-east, the inaugural Chapelton Bike Ride welcomed over 250 cyclists and hundreds of other spectators to the village of Chapelton last year.

Jenna said:

“I wanted to give something back to my local community by getting involved with this year’s bike ride, as I noticed there were a lot of doggy companions at last year’s event. As a dog owner myself, I felt it was important to provide a peaceful area where dogs could rest away from large crowds of people.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new furry friends and soaking up the atmosphere on the day. NESS provides invaluable support to many people across the North-east, so it is great that everyone is coming together to raise as much funds as possible.”

Neil Skene, fundraising co-ordinator at NESS, said:

“It is great to see the huge increase in the number of local businesses getting involved with this year’s bike ride. We’re very thankful to Jenna for offering a complimentary dog minding service, as this will encourage more people to come along to enjoy the wide range of activities on offer.

“Money raised from the Chapelton Bike Ride enables NESS to continuing supporting people with sensory impairments achieve independence, as well as helping them overcome any challenges they may face in day-to-day life. These services make such a big difference to the lives of so many people, so we are extremely grateful to everyone who is taking part and helping to fundraise.”

The Chapelton Bike Ride takes place on Sunday, September 3. Participants have the choice of a 42-mile bike ride, a 12-mile bike ride or a 5K walk.  

Registration costs £15 per person for the 42-mile route, £5 per person for the 12-mile route, or £15 for a team of four for the 12-mile cycle. The 5K walk is free to enter, but all participants must register via the website. Register for the Chapelton Bike Ride at www.chapeltonbikeride.co.uk

Aug 112017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Celebrate summer at The National Trust for Scotland’s Haddo House with a day packed with fun for children of all ages.
Kids can let off energy on the bouncy castles, enter Gladiator duels and be challenged on an obstacle course.

Florence The Confused Frog author Cat Taylor will lead storytelling workshops and caricaturist Lyn Elrick will be penning portraits. There will be face painting and a toddler area for soft play and ball pool. 

For grown ups there’s an adult bouncy castle or book a flea market table and sell any unwanted toys or children’s clothes.

Refreshments will be on sale in the castle shop, and visitors can bring a picnic if they wish. Haddo House is an elegant mansion house with stunning late Victorian interiors.

Noted for its fine furniture and paintings, Haddo also has a terraced garden leading to the Country Park with lakes, walks and monuments.

For more information about summer events at Haddo House – and other National Trust for Scotland properties – visit www.nts.org.uk

Event:           Haddo Summer Fair
Date:            Sunday, 13 August 2017
Time:            11am-4pm
Venue:          Haddo House, Methlick, Ellon AB41 7EQ
Price:            £3

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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

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May 192016
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Walk About Ballater3 A five star walking programme is one in a long line of events showcasing how Royal Deeside continues to keep moving forward after Storm Frank affected the area in December last year.

Walk About Ballater 2016 takes place from May 23-27 and will offer the chance to explore scenic Ballater and its surrounding landscapes by foot.

A fleet of local volunteers will lead each event, giving visitors access to an abundance of in-depth knowledge about the Ballater area and its history.

Taking place over five days, each of the five events venture deep into the heart of Royal Deeside entirely on foot. With a countryside full of majestic mountains, lush greenery and picturesque lochs, it’s not difficult to see why Queen Victoria fell in love with the area over 150 years ago.

The series of events will allow visitors to explore some of the Royal Family’s favourite locations when they holiday in Scotland. Crathie – where the Royals attend church when in the area -Lochnager – said to be Prince Charles’ favourite mountain – and the famous River Dee will all be seen on the walks outside of Ballater.

Wildlife and nature enthusiasts will also be spoilt for choice during the programme, as the area is widely known for being rich in flora and fauna. Walkers may even catch sight of a pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, a rare species in Scotland although Deeside remains one of its strongholds.

John Burrows of Walk About Ballater 2016 says that the series of walking events will allow people of all ages and capabilities to experience the area and all of its natural beauty by foot.

He says,

“The village of Ballater is set in such beautiful surroundings and the only way you can truly get a feel for the area is by walking through it. Five walks have been organised, with the first starting on Monday 23rd of May.

“Each day will bring a different location, distance and ascent. The days range from a gentle four hour walk providing fantastic views over the Dee valley, to an 18km trek with a 430m ascend up to the impressive Craig Vallich.

“We’re very proud to be able to offer such a wealth of scenery and walking routes. Those taking part certainly won’t be disappointed, as the whole landscape of Royal Deeside is just spectacular.”

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“Walk About Ballater is the perfect way to kick start our summer tourist season, the walks are a reminder of exactly why visitors return to Ballater year after year. The event organisers have been working extremely hard planning the perfect walking routes which will showcase the very best of what this area has to offer.

“It’s wonderful to see locals get involved by volunteering their time to lead walks and provide background information about Ballater to visitors. The community spirit which has been shown throughout this year is proving that the only way is forward for Ballater.”

The programme runs from May 23-27, with the first scheduled walk set to take participants on an 18km (11 mile) circular route starting from Ballater through the Glenmuick estates. This route is expected to take five-and-a-half hours and will pass the old curling ponds, as well as the Royal Bridge.

With the opening of the newly refurbished Ballater Caravan Park on Friday May 13, there’s never been a better time to enjoy a walking break in Royal Deeside. More information is available from www.visitballater.com.

Walkers are welcome and can sign up on the day. For full details of the programme and times, please contact John Burrows at johnburrows1@btinternet.com

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Mar 142013
 

A copy of Scottish Walks fell out of the Sunday Herald a couple of weekends ago.  It must have been a weekend where the Dons didn’t lose before it was bought. Scottish Walks is well-written, covers the whole of Scotland, is not solely for the gearmonsters and Munro-baggers and it’s free.  Aberdeen Voice’s David Innes had a quick word with editor Cameron McNeish about the magazine and its sister publication Scottish Cycling.

DI:           The ad in the latest issue mentions distribution of hard copies in the major commuting cities – do you know how this is carried out in Aberdeen?

CMcN:     Scottish Walks and Scottish Cycling are both quarterly magazines and are given away free from a variety of distribution sources. The magazines are usually carried by the Sunday Herald newspaper and in addition a large number of copies are sent to outdoor centres, outdoor shops, leisure centres, libraries and doctors’ surgeries throughout Scotland.’

DI:           How are the magazines financed?

CMcN:    The magazines are financed solely by advertising.

DI:           Do you have a campaigning edge, or is the vision wholly altruistic from a health and environmental viewpoint?

CMcN:    We don’t have a particular campaigning edge.  The emphasis on both titles is to encourage people to have a go, although in Scottish Walks the emphasis is more on giving people a wider choice of walking route.  The cycling magazine is aimed more at the leisure cyclist rather than the racer or hardened sportive rider.’

DI:           Would you accept copy from potential contributors?

CMcN:    We are always happy to accept contributions but since we have a very minimal contributor’s budget we don’t emphasise that!  Most of the material is written by, or sourced, by myself.

As well as the hard copy versions of these magazines, which are gloriously illustrated, you can register to subscribe for a free online version at http://www.scottishwalks.com or http://www.scottishcyclingmag.co.uk or subscribe, for a nominal sum, to have a hard copy delivered to you..

*  *  *  *

On a related subject, Aberdeen Cycle Forum has informed its members and subscribers about a vital cycleway improvement in the suburbs:

“The latest improvement to the Deeside line has seen tarmac laid on the remaining 1.5km or so to Culter station.  The route is now sealed surface all the way from Duthie Park.  

“This is good news and is the latest stage in a round of improvements that started around 2000 with the installation of bridges over Hardgate and Holburn Street.

“This is down to the council taking a sustained interest in the route, and excellent funding support from Sustrans and Nestrans – as well as consistent pressure from ACF.  

“Our annual cycle count has shown a steady increase in cycle use which confirms what we already know – good quality cycle provision encourages cycling!”

There are pictures of old and new surfacing on the Deeside Line at
http://aberdeencycleforum.org.uk/index.php?pf=news.php&nid=158

It’s important to let your councillor know if you are benefitting from this investment.

If you don’t know who your councillors are, you can find them here – http://www.writetothem.com/

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