Today would have been my final day walking, and so as I leave Braemar, I’m off to Aberdeen and then south towards Montrose, via my intended finish point at Inverbervie.
Over the last few days as I have rested, I have walked a little on some of the route I would have covered in and around the area. I found that in the couple of days I completely rested my knee, it was more painful than when I walked a little, so each day I’ve endeavoured to do something.
Monday. I had lunch in Ballater, then got the bus to Crathie for Balmoral. I sat in Crathie Kirk for a short while, which apart from an annoying American with a booming voice, was quite peaceful and gave me time to reflect and regret my blasphemy from the previous week! From the Kirk, I waked over the bridge to Bamoral. I could have walked east or west and entered Balmoral by an alternative route, but given the pain I was still in, I paid my £11.50 and headed straight for the castle. It was around 2.30, and most people were photographing the building, or the grounds. Endless selfies. If you walk on between the Duke of Edinburgh designed garden/patio and the castle itself, there’s a wee path takes you right into the River Dee. There are 4 walks around the hill at the back of the castle, the usual red, green, brown and yellow routes, each pitched at a couple of hours, 1.5-2miles each. We were last here one year ago almost to the week, and so again I played the pine cone game.
What astonished me last year and again this year, this beautiful forest area and the surroundings, is what Victoria fell in love with, and Edward VII, and George V and VI, and our own Queenie, (Eliz 1st of scotland don’t you know!!), but visitors to Balmoral go no further than the grounds of the castle. I never met another soul on the hill! But I did see red deer, mountain hare and red squirrels. So, I am very glad to get this all to myself.
I did have a chuckle later, as I walked back through the grounds. I was taking a picture in a greenhouse that the groundsmen use to bring on plants for indoor and outdoor, and my peace was disturbed by the appearance of 6 young German priests. Vater Ted. One was making buzzing noises as he gazed at the large bumble bees. He must have been Vater Dougal.
Tuesday. Around 10k – Up Chapel Brae out of the village and then dropping down to the River Dee. This would have been my route in to Braemar. Hilariously, I missed a turn off back into the village, and walked an additional 3k by accident, only realising when I found myself on the opposite bank from Braemar Castle where the River Dee met the Clunie Water, so I followed it back into the village from the north.
Wednesday. Around 8k walking through the forest above the Youth Hostel, along and around a route called Queens Drive up to Lions Face Rock where the views up Glen Dee are lovely.
And so I’m now watching the scenery change as I hurtle towards Aberdeen.