Saturday, 7 May 2016

Braes of Glenlivet. Moray. Spring Flowers. Animals.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
An overnight stop in the north east of Scotland was spent in a bothy, non MBA and little known so not named here.
The second day of our Moray trip was another sunny one so Alex and David had their sights set on another north east Corbett- Corryhabie Hill, 766 metres which is situated in the remote and mainly unfrequented Braes of Glenlivet. It's not that far from the previous day's Corbett of Ben Rinnes, 840 metres in the last post.
This is deep in traditional Scottish Malt Whisky territory  and long distance walking path The Speyside Way from Aviemore to the coast near Buckie, following the River Spey, is close by as is the car orientated whisky trail tour of local distilleries in the area.
For a change we opted to backpack in via an old right of way, the ancient smugglers route from Glen Livet over the hills  then down through to Glen Fiddich to Dufftown via a high pass.
It was warm and sunny where we were but as we climbed higher into the hills we could look back towards the distant Cairngorms where full winter conditions still lingered.
This area is part of the Crown Estates, owned by the Queen, the largest chunk of land in Scotland to be under her majesty's control ( you would think it would be the Balmoral Castle Estate. Personal royal family estate lands presumably) and an area that was new to all three of us, hence the visit. Most of the upland farms in this remote high moorland and pass seem to be lying empty and abandoned. It's mainly grouse and red deer moor but unlike the Lammermuirs, another grouse district visited on the blog a couple of months ago, this area has an abundance of other wildlife on show. Maybe the general habitat is better. Interesting link of how much land and housing in the UK falls under crown property and the SNP have argued against this situation continuing in Scotland to little avail.  
Lower down at the start sheep farms and arable farmland give way to high grassy moors where the evocative calls of curlews, skylarks, and lapwings are never far away. Greylag geese and red grouse were also spotted. As I didn't fancy the look of Corryhabie Hill, (an uninspiring dull plod to my way of thinking as I prefer jaggy or more varied mountain landscape on hills I bag) I decided to keep to the right of way over the pass and take wildlife photos instead of trig bagging as that motivates me more these days.
I did pretty well on the animal front with close up views of red deer hinds, seen here at the snow line.
Views across to the high Cairngorms and the 4000 foot Munros still firmly locked tight in winters grip.
Near the top of the pass and more abandoned farms.
Greylag goose beside the river.
Red grouse which lends its name to a famous whisky brand.
Info sign through the Braes of Glenlivet with history of this path as a smuggling route. An area stuffed with walks and rough mountain bike routes that I was unaware even existed before our visit. It's not particularly spectacular, scenery wise, being mainly grassy humps but it does have wide open skies and views; a nice wild and empty feel to the landscape and in sunny conditions with plenty to see I really enjoyed it. Never met a soul all day, apart from my companions when they finally returned and we met up again further down the trail.
I'm not pro or anti royal myself as the Royal family don't feature much in my thoughts at all but this area prompted my curiosity about who owns what. Even with many former colonies gaining independence the Queen still technically 'owns' a staggering one sixth of the world's land surface, including it's third largest country, Canada, making the British Royal Family the outright winner in the real life Game of Thrones. A surprising inclusion for me was the Kidman's (including actress Nicole) dominant position in Australia  coming in at number 8 although of course the Queen technically 'owns' Australia as well. Bloody poms. :o)      This article certainly makes you think about the way the world is carved up..
After not coming across a single partridge in 40 years of hill-walking I spotted another one here and it waited obligingly to get its photo taken.
The contrast between the Cairngorm plateau, still covered in deep snow and spring in full bloom down in sheltered valleys was a stark reminder that you could find winter or early summer a short distance from each other here, depending on preference. If you were high hill inclined every weekend you could easily ignore the advance of spring altogether by extending winter conditions up here right into mid summer.
A large bumble bee in blossom. Extensive research has now been conducted and seems to prove beyond doubt it is human interference with the natural order, shipping bees around the world in boxes or across countries to fertilize crops on demand and spraying them with toxins in the process that is causing colony collapse and stressed out insects. Hopefully, we can turn things around and go back to  less intensive methods of pollination without denting profits too much.
Scottish primroses in a damp spot. Frogs were spawning in all the surrounding puddles and I rescued a few lumps of spawn that were drying out on the grass with pools already evaporated by carrying them back into bigger puddles. Maybe saved a few.
We met up again after Corryhabie Hill and completed our walk.
On the way back we stopped off at Blairgowrie and had an excellent bag of chips in this pretty highland town that always seems to be jumping with local teenagers of an evening in the central square, well behaved teens I have to add. We also found this riverside walk five minutes from the chippy. A nice sculpture.
Heading up to get our chips.
An excellent weekend.

Hank Williams was one of the greatest singer songwriters in American musical history. Dubbed the 'Hillbilly Shakespeare' it 's an apt title as he wrote almost 500 songs despite dying at 29 years old. Being so prolific in such a short intensive period not all of them are gold dust but a surprising number are genuine standouts classics that will last the test of time. The original black and white recordings are not to my taste, being creaky and rather dated to modern eyes but practically everyone in music, even if prolific songwriters themselves have dipped into his back catalogue for extra material. I got to know his music through early Neil Young then much later Cat Power, both big fans who covered his songs on their own albums and every one I heard was a cracker.
I heard this particular song on The Last of Us cinematic play-through on You Tube, which I watched and really enjoyed as a film in its own right and heard this song then, which I vaguely remembered from 30 odd years ago.
He had a real talent for singing about love, loss and heartache but also wrote the catchy, upbeat and instantly familiar Jambalaya ( on the Bayou.) Think Cajun dinner and party singalong) This is a very good cover, not the man himself, as his songs live on down the years. Good images to go with it. Simple but very effective melody and lyrics were his trademark but all the best songs that are remembered have this approach. I'll be interested to see the new film coming out about his life and musical career. The first real 'Rock Star Celebrity' even though he was country and folk music born and bred.


Linda said...

So much beauty! Thank you so much for sharing, I feel as though I am right there.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda.

Carol said...

You're damned weather never plays ball with me!! It didn't have a single flake of snow on my 2 visits to the Cairnies in Feb & March and now it's wick wi' it! :-(

Now I want the snow to go away as I have to do the Forcan Ridge at the start of June (less than a month away) and the bloody Highlands are covered with the damn stuff!

I love my Queen :-)

Linda W. said...

Another great walk - lots of nice wildlife and flower pics!

The Greenockian said...

Love the photos - we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Did the Forcan Ridge in winter years ago. Not too bad apart from one steep down climb section. The rest was just a walk. Unless we get another dump I'd imagine the tricky section will be snow free. Very warm at the moment. 25c in the Highlands tomorrow.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda, Thank You.

blueskyscotland said...

I'll agree with that Liz. Not many landscapes more varied than the UK considering it's small size.

Kay G. said...

I am only an American so I cannot comment on the Queen and royalty but I will say I can totally understand their love of the land in Scotland. Gorgeous. And I know the chips must be good too! You must know I admire Hank Williams too. Not seen the movie yet, but most likely will when it comes out on DVD.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
You cant say 'I'm only an American' That's surely against the constitution :o)
Yes, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert genuinely loved Scotland as do the present Royal Family. It's actually them we have to thank for many of the things we think of as intrinsically 'Scottish' today as they invented most of it, along with Sir Walter Scott, in the Victorian era. Brightly coloured patterns for all the different clans, The tartan short kilts we know today, The network of hunting estates and grand lodges, pheasants,grouse,partridge, many villages and towns, iconic Scottish products and style, and the perception of what highland life was like in past times projected as an image around the world. A myth of the romantic dashing highlander that is still perpetuated to this day in works like Braveheart and Outlander.
It's as genuine to the truth as any other theme park but it's worked well so far and it's the distorted stereotype people prefer as the real one is less colourful and harder to sell as a brand.
The real version is out there in history books... just not as enjoyable as the established highly embellished one.
A modern equivalent is that Meerkat advert. Promoted as cute and cuddly friendly creatures but the real animals are adapted to kill and eat scorpions and snakes and survive in a very hostile environment. There is nothing cute and cuddly about them up close as anyone who puts fingers within bite range will soon find out.