The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 10 February 2014

Darnaway Forest and the Findhorn

Louise outdid herself today, having planned a truly lovely route which took us out through various types of woodland and back along a glorious path which runs above the River Findhorn. Not only that, but she’d put in an order for good weather, hence the rain that had fallen overnight and into the morning had been replaced by high clouds and sunny intervals by the time we reached the parking area within Darnaway Forest.

To look at the route on paper just doesn’t do it justice (and, in all honesty, this may not be exactly the route we took; I forgot to pick up the Garmin Gadget before we set out and I haven’t got any internet as I type this to retrieve the GPX file Louise has sent to me):image

We started out under remarkably fine skies, but on a reasonably unremarkable forest track…


Mick does his cormorant impression to catch a few rays

…before turning off onto a lovely green grassy track, lined with gorse in amongst the lower conifer branches.

Having passed through a farm, and decided that the ‘No access. Residents only.’ sign opposite only applied to motor vehicles, along a driveway past some estate buildings we went, before reaching a substantially walled garden (that is to say, it was a substantial wall around a substantial garden):


Just look at that sky!


Next came some delightful beech woodland, bisected by a wall so heavily moss-covered that, if viewed as just a small section, could be mistaken for a moss-covered pile of logs:


It was within the woodland that lunch was called, and whilst we sat there consuming sandwiches, cake and tea, the passing wildlife included three deer, a woodpecker, a buzzard and an owl. Later, down by the river a tree creeper was seen.


As so often happens when you’ve found yourself a perch for lunch, you only go a short while further before finding a proper bench with an excellent view. On this occasion it was a particularly sturdy, well-crafted bench too, with a fine view down to the river (of which I was unable to take a decent photo because of the camera focussing on the trees, rather than on the water beyond). Later river photos failed due to the position of the sun, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was stunning.


Just along the river a grand fishing ‘hut’ was in an enviable position, boasting one of the best views of the river:


It was one of three huts we passed, although the second two were more basic, one-roomed big-shed affairs.

Oooh, it turns out that I have got a passable picture of the river:


The path along the river was another delight. It was various widths of single-file the whole way (the photo below is one of the wider sections), sometimes with precipitous drops down to the river such that you wouldn’t want to slip or trip at an inopportune moment!


The biggest adventure of the day came with a little side burn we had to cross. The crossing itself wasn’t too tricky, as the burn was neither deep nor wide, and stones were conveniently situated to help us across. The descent down to the burn, and the ascent back up t’other side, however, were slip-slidey muddy steep things making it surprising that four of us made it across with the seats of our trousers mud-free.


Very few people were out walking (and, in fact, the only other walker we did pass turned out to be an ex-colleague of Mick). More people were seen down on the river, where three canoeists passed by with a wave in our direction.


Having run out of river-hugging path, onto a forestry track we landed where a hop and skip (and a huff and a puff as we pulled back up the hill) took us back to our start point.

Neither the photos nor the words have done justice to what a fine and varied walk this was. I would recommend it for an outing if you were to find yourself in the area. The official stats were 8.25 miles walked (I think; it may have been 8.5) with something like 1100’ of ascent. There’s certainly more ascent than the map suggests, as that path alongside the river does undulate its way along.

Thanks go to Louise (and David) for planning two very good outings for us (not to mention for their hospitality and the kind use of their driveway).

1 comment:

  1. You're most welcome, anytime! I must say however, I did surpass even my own expectations that it might be a pretty walk. Although I did sadly underestimate the total ascent. My shins are the only part of me today feeling a bit tender, which is also very pleasing. Haste ye back! (Although obviously you'll have David all to yourself as I'll be ensconced in a posh hut with Laura in the Monadhliaths ;-) Enjoy the rest of your hols, weather's looking not too shoddy.