Thursday, 4 November 2010

Glenlivet Gold

On a day when the Mountain Weather Information Service was forecasting severe gales from the southwest on the highest mountains, I felt that something a bit lower would still give a good day on the hill.  Better still if I could put the wind at my back.  The Hills of Cromdale on the Glenlivet Estate seemed to fit the bill nicely, plus it's just a short drive from home.

The walk starts pleasantly alongside the River Avon, just along from the Tomintoul Distillery, where a minor road leads to a hill track striking straight up the hill.

The hills are a wonderful, rich brown colour at the moment as the deer grass and heather start to colour up.  This is grouse shooting country, with shooting butts like this old example dotting the hillside.  On grouse moors, the heather is burned in strips and patches in rotation to give variety in the age of the heather which these hardy birds depend on. The hills get a characteristic striped look which is particularly noticeable at this time of year.

One advantage of having the southwest wind at my back is that I also got the low autumn sun at my back too.  Looking southwest into the sun, the line of ridges over toward Abernethy looked like a Japanese painting.

The broad Cromdale ridge sweeps away to the east, to the summit of Carn a' Ghille Chearr (Cairn of the Left-handed Lad).  It would be fascinating to know how this hill came by it's name.  Rather surprisingly, there were a herd of around twenty Reindeer grazing on the upper slopes around the area in shadow on this picture.  I previously only knew of one herd in Scotland, on Cairngorm. 

Though these hills aren't very high, barely rising above 700 metres, they command a great view.  Looking west, over the Haughs of Cromdale where a battle was fought in 1690, you look down on Speyside, while  to the north is Glenlivet itself.  This is whisky country, with names like Knockando, Glenfarclas, Tomnavoulin, Cragganmore and of course The Glenlivet to make the mouth water - true Glenlivet Gold!

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