Our walk on Tuesday, July 21 was to have been the Seven Bridges circular walk around Ballater.
However one of the bridges was closed and so we had to change our route.
This was not a great disaster; our walk was a really pleasant one. 27 of us gathered at the car-park in the middle of Ballater, with 20 members opting for the longer walk.
We set off from the car-park, through a very narrow opening then down a side street. After a right and a left, we found ourselves walking along a path beside the caravan park on the outskirts of the village. This led to a route between the river on our left and the golf-course on our right. It was lovely, and was obviously popular with dog-walkers and joggers etc. When we came to a picnic area, there seemed to be a way to continue round the edge of the golf-course, but we kept left and soon crossed the first of what would be a three-bridge walk. At this point we were on a path that was to have been the route of the railway, had it continued on from Ballater. I’m told Queen Victoria didn’t want it passing Balmoral so the line to Braemar was never built. That particular path ended at Bridge of Gairn (the second bridge) where we crossed the A93.
The next part of our walk was very up and down: we climbed and descended three or four “humps” at the side of the road and finally had our lunch at the top of the last one. It was a lovely view, looking over the river to the hills beyond. All too soon we were on our way again. We re-crossed the A93 and followed the path to Polhollick Bridge. This is the bridge that is closed to the public. It is Category B listed and was built in 1892 as a gift from Alexander Gordon of Hildenborough, Kent. The bridge will be closed until October and the repairs/conservation work are reputed to cost in the region of £300,000.
We looked at the bridge and photographed it then turned back and walked alongside the river Dee again. There was evidence here of recent flooding: debris well up the trunks of some trees. The river was on our right, wide and smooth flowing then it seemed as if it suddenly became much smaller and narrower. What actually happened was that we crossed a narrow piece of land close to where the Gairn joins the Dee; we didn’t actually see the confluence. I was a wee bit confused until I could see it on a map. Soon we were back at Bridge of Gairn where we crossed a new wooden bridge (not an official one, so it doesn’t count!). We then retraced our steps from earlier but when we came to the picnic area we kept left and came back to Ballater by a different route. Our final bridge was the one in Ballater beside the now burned-down railway station. Many of us finished off with an ice-cream before heading home.
The next walk will be on Tuesday, August 4, a circular walk in the Alyth area. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10 am.