Craigendarroch is Ballater's hill, it sits right above the town on the banks of the River Dee. The images in this post were taken on a walk in mid November 2015, well before the floods which poured into the town in late December 2015.
This image is taken from the road bridge over the River Dee at the end of the main street - a street which was inundated by a metre of floodwater in the torrential rains accompanying storm "Frank". Subsequent prolonged heavy rain in the early part of 2016 has brought further flood risk with the River Dee reaching its highest recorded level since 1928 and in places altering the landscape completely.
The name "Craigendarroch" means Crag of the Oak Wood and that's a very accurate name; Oaks predominate on the lower slopes of a cone of granite mixed with pines higher up.
The modest summit at 402 metres/1319 feet is marked by a trig point, a view indicator and a large pink granite memorial cairn. The climb from Ballater takes around an hour on a clear though sometime rough path and is well worth the effort......
...for the view down to the Dee and to Ballater itself. It's sobering to note that the river flooded to nearly half the extent of the view in this image.
The town of Ballater is resilient - it will recover from the flooding. Help will be needed from the Scottish Government, from Aberdeenshire Council and from continued visits by tourists and outdoor enthusiasts - the lifeblood of a town which prides itself on its Royal patronage and the proximity of Balmoral a few miles along the road.
The village of Braemar is in a much more difficult position. Flooding here wasn't as newsworthy but the destruction of a section of the main A93 road and significant damage to the bridge at Invercauld will take some months to assess and repair. In the meantime Braemar is completely cut off from its natural eastward line of communication along the Dee valley to Aberdeen. The sole remaining road access to Braemar is the the A93 from the south, a long and difficult road from Perth which crosses one of the highest passes in Scotland at the Cairnwell (at the Glenshee Ski Centre). Concerted efforts are being made by both Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross councils to protect this road access, but it's notorious for closures due to drifting snow in late winter.
The effects on the village will be profound - students won't be able to access their high school at Aboyne, access time to hospital will be much longer and subject to the vagaries of the winter weather, as will keeping the village shops stocked. Many folk will be unable to travel to their work and the lifeblood of the village - tourists, skiers and walkers will be severely restricted in numbers. Our own access to Braemar, one of our favourite places, a superb example of community and a base for so many fine adventures, normally takes 40 minutes or so - now it will take around 4 hours and a detour of around 150 miles.
I don't think I've featured a direct appeal on this blog before, but I'm going to do so here. When the worst effects of the flooding are over and the situation has stabilised, please consider visiting Ballater and especially try to visit Braemar to support the businesses and livelihoods which have taken such a big hit.
Here are a few links to both places:
Welcome to Braemar
Shops and Businesses in Braemar
Where to Stay
Braemar Mountain Sports Facebook page (with updates on the situation)