Monday, 28 September 2009

Abrada - cabrach!

From Dufftown, I decided to follow the Cabrach hill road, with an intended diversion down Glen Fiddich. We had left ourselves quite a lot to do in order to get to the World Horse Welfare Centre at Aboyne in time for media stuff which had been organised: in addition GMTV were wanting to film us on the move and needed to be able to find us hopefully!

Although a tarmac road (not our favourite), the Cabrach is very quiet - we only saw about half a dozen vehicles. There are some charming haughs beside the Fiddich but the rest of it is pretty bleak: partly because of the windswept location, but also due to the number of derelict small farms and houses. In fact, much of it smelled of quiet abandonment. I met a PhD student from Aberdeen conducting a heather study: 'Where are all the people?" he asked.
Certainly there were a few keepers driving about, but not many other signs of life. In my imagination there seemed a sadness over the area somehow, too many years of trying to make a living on this unforgiving ground. A historical record which I looked at suggested a good year was when only the bottom half of the barley ears got destroyed by frost...

There is however, rather surprisingly, a pub! Adherents of the Kate Godfrey School of Wilderness Trekking will have learned by now not to ever pass a pub (or toilet), so we duly stopped for refreshment at The Grouse Inn. The boys were given carrots (but I really wanted a pint of bitter - Doogs).

Suitably fortified, we had got a bit bored of the road and started to look for other options. Luckily we stayed on the tarmac long enough to see these extraordinary signs:

Slightly sinister and added to my uncomfortable feeling, especially the Bank Farm one. I did try to find out a little more about them, and who had put them up - the general concensus was that it was during the fifties, by a fervent religious farmer - but if anyone knows any more, I would be very interested... the houses now appear abandoned.

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