Saturday 8 June 2013

Aviemore to Hopeman Day 2 - Grantown-on Spey to Altyre Bridge.

Dulicht Bridge by Grantown-on-Spey
The start of the Dava Way (NJ025283)

Got up at about 06:15 to a bit of a grey start to the day. Rafe had his pre-breakfast walk up to a viewpoint above Grantown-on-Spey (NJ024284) and then, back at the campsite, we unpacked our morning meal. In the tent porch and inside two plastic bags, there should have been two croissants, purchased the day before for breakfast. The plastic bags did not seem disturbed, but one of the paper bags with a croissant had been ripped open and the croissant was gone, not a mark, not a crumb, just an empty paper bag - fox? cat? dog? rabbit? - whatever it was it had made off without making more than a short rustling the night before - Rafe's certainly not much of a guard dog...

After breakfast, we bid farewell to our American friend (he was going to catch the Speyside Railway train if his injury got the better of him) and packed our bag, setting off ourselves at about 08:20.

The Dava Way, another waymarked route along an old railway line, would be our route for the whole of the day. It starts just a few yards from the campsite entrance and we set off with high hopes of making good time on a good path with hardly any ascent.

First waymark on the Dava Way by Grantown-on-Spey (NJ025283)

Within about 5 minutes of starting the Way, we saw a red squirrel in a tree and again within another two minutes a red squirrel sitting in the middle of the path, twitching its nose, before heading off into the undergrowth.

Views south east towards the Cairngorms from the Dava Way (NJ035315)

The Way winds itself northwards, keeping to the old railway line, except where it passes through private gardens or through some railway cuttings which get very wet. The occasional detour on forest tracks and woodland paths were quite welcome at times...

Rafe above Huntly's Cave by the Dava Way

We had some moody views south and east towards the Cairngorms, but a bit of low cloud and haze didn't suit photography.

Huntly's Cave

We dumped the rucksack and had a short detour to Huntly's Cave, just to the east of the Dava Way - nice to get rid of the extra weight for a while.

There were some climbers on the crags, heard but not seen, except for their rope, stretched right across the path and anchored to a tree.

Gorge of the Allt an Flithich by Huntly's Cave

We were soon heading north again. We soon came out of the woods and found ourselves on the open Dava Moor.

Views est from the Dava Way (NJ014350)

The Way was dead straight across the Moor, at times running parallel to the A939. The views were expansive, heather moorland all around, some forest and the Cairngorm mountains, snowy and far to the south. I couldn't believe I had been walking beside them only yesterday.

Rafe at the summit of the Dava Way

We reached the summit of the moor about mid morning, as the sun came out and the temperature increased.

West from the Dava Way summit

Across the moor could be seen the abandoned croft houses of another era.

Another old railway building on The Dava Way

Views south to the Cairngorms from Dava Moor

Views south from the Dava Way (NJ012363)

Views north west from the Dava Way (NJ012363)

Views south on the Dava Way (NJ011377)

North west from the Dava Way (NJ011377)

The area reminded me of the North York Moors.

East from the Dava Way (NJ009386)

We passed beside the tiny hamlet of Dava itself, just a few farm houses, atop the moors.

Another old railway hut - Dava

South west from the Dava Way (NJ008387)

A hot Rafe with views to Knock of Braemoray

Rafe enjoys his lunch by Knock of Braemoray

We had lunch and lay out in the sunshine south of Knock of Braemoray, the highest hill on the moors at 456m. Not very high as hills go around here, but standing proud above the rest of the moors.

Rafe enjoyed his lunch and a quick paddle in a burn, before we continued on our way - the pack just a touch lighter.

Our lunch spot by Knock of Braemoray (NJ014407)

After skirting around Knock of Braemoray, the Way headed north again across more moorland and soon on into woods and farmland.

Bog cotton by the Dava Way (NJ021411)

Rafe - north from NJ021412

Rafe and friend at Bogeney (NJ027433)

We passed an old croft, only abandoned in the 1950's, where a carved bench has been made to commemorate a local story. The croft at Bogeney (NJ024433) was so isolated that the crofter's wife found it difficult to get to Nairn or Grantown for her shopping needs. So she put her orders in by letter and the order was thrown out of the train as it passed the croft. Her dog used to run down to the railway line and collect the items, holding the bow on the top of each box and take them back to the crofthouse.

Rafe shows the locals how to herd sheep

As we continued north of Bogeney, sheep from all the local fields started to run towards the Way and trot along in front of us, more and more of them joining us on the path. Rafe was quite keen to keep them moving (he was on the lead the entire time) and seemed to be taking on his hereditary role. Eventually, just before Bantrach Woods, they all took themselves off again through a gap in the fence, back into a field - Rafe did look proud of himself, but was pleased to be able to come off his lead once we were through the gate and in the wood.

I hope the farmer wanted the sheep in this field

The day just kept getting hotter...

Rafe by the Divie Viaduct, Dava Way

Divie Viaduct was well worth seeing.

Rafe on the Divie Viaduct, Dava Way

The views south east from the Divie Viaduct, Dava Way

The woods around Dunphail were absolutely beautiful, especially in the exceptional late afternoon sunlight.

Birch woods near Dunphail

We were planning a wild camp, so intended to keep walking a little later into the evening, but I was getting tired. We found a burn beside the Way for Rafe to get a drink and a cool off and had another long rest and a meal.

We hadn't seen anyone else since Dava - blissfully peaceful...

A good spot for food, on the Dava Way

We continued north, back into broken forest, with a view to camping by the Altyre Burn, five miles south of Forres - I was a touch concerned about how much water we had left, at least if we were by the burn Rafe would have plenty to drink and the Altyre Burn is the source (apparently) of the water used for Benromach whisky.

We reached the burn sooner than I expected and after a bit of tramping about,  found a nice dry, flat bit - a touch close to the burn itself, but rain wasn't forecast and it would have to rain quite a bit for me to be in trouble.

Tent up, hot drink - retreat from the midges.

Altyre Burn (NJ04237533)

Route:  Grantown-on-Spey caravan and campsite (NJ027283), turn NE out of campsite for 100m, go under the railway bridge and turn right onto the Dava Way, follow this waymarked route north to Altyre Bridge (NJ041532 7km south of Forres).

Statistics:  Distrance: 30.4km  Ascent: 110m  Time: 10 hours.

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