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04 May 2024Aldie Burn


The day before our recent field trip to the Tain area, we discovered that a fundraising road run of vintage commercial vehicles would be leaving Dingwall on the A9 northbound and their scheduled departure time would coincide with ours. Members were asked to meet slightly earlier than usual to avoid the 80 participating lorries and there were no delays on the road before starting our walk at Aldie Burn.

Well made and dry, the firm, wide paths made for easy walking through the tall pines of this woodland.  Disturbed while crossing the track, a toad hastily got out of our way to take cover in grass. Further on a woodpecker drummed high above, but was not to be seen. At the foot of a steep and dramatic drop, we caught our first glimpse of the burn through the dark trees below, and in time our route led down to a lovely spot beside the clear water. Paths crisscrossed the woods everywhere.  There were deep carpets of moss and thick lichen coating the trees. Dense blaeberry bushes promised a rich harvest of fruit to come, judging by their plentiful little pink flowers. In some places wood anemones were out and clumps of yellow marsh marigolds brightened the edges of the Aldie Burn at one point. Several water mills had been powered by this water at one time.

After we crossed over the burn - in a more open landscape - large patches of wild raspberry canes were coming into leaf, adding to the many shades of green in the surroundings and reminders of that special flavour of homemade wild rasp jam. A cuckoo was calling from the woodland in the background - the first heard this year by many of the fifteen Club members on the walk.

We rejoined our original trail through the conifers. It had stayed dry and although the sun did not appear, it felt milder than of late. No wind in this sheltered corner which made a pleasant change, and how lovely to see green things coming to life on all sides after recent drab days.


06 April 2024Cromarty

On the day of Storm Kathleen, 16 members of Dingwall Field Club set out for Cromarty. The storm didn’t come when they were there - no rain, not much wind and sunshine. Starting from the Car Park they climbed up The Paye, that old street in a town of many historic streets, heading for the Ladies Walk and the grounds of Cromarty House.

Though not wet that day the rain of weeks before made the footpaths quite difficult and alterations to original plans had to be made as they went. However, that didn’t matter. There were plenty of new spring flowers to be seen – firstly the rather coarse butterbur and then the more delicate primrose, golden saxifrage and celandine plus some daffodils. Birdlife, too, could be heard in the stillness of the woods – the ‘teacher teacher’ sound of the great tit, the wren and the distinctive rattle of a woodpecker, for example.

Some of the group returned via the Gaelic Chapel to see, in the graveyard, the graves of some of the crew of the HMS Natal disaster, Commonwealth War Graves and Hugh Miller’s Memorial. Further on was a look at the fine memorial windows in St Regulus’ Church by Sir Ninian Comper whose many other works include windows in Westminster Abbey.

The others had a longer walk taking them further uphill and back down the South Sutor road and into St Regulus’ Cemetery - the Pirates Graveyard – with its underground Mausoleum. Lower down, more old Cromarty buildings were passed - no longer stables or a brewery but still well used by the local people. They returned to the cars and the other members via the lighthouse, having had a most enjoyable day.


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