Has anyone heard of an Esker? No it’s not an inhabitant of Glen Esk or someone who stays beside the rivers North and South Esk.
It is a long winding ridge of gravel, sand etc. originally deposited by a melt water stream running under a glacier and there’s one by the side of Loch Kinord near Dinnet on Deeside.
This feature and many more are all signposted beside the walkway around the loch now part of the Cairngorm National Park.
Originally we intended to walk from the visitor centre but work in progress there to extend the car park had reduced parking spaces considerably meantime with work scheduled to be complete by the end of April.
So we started at Dinnet from the car park at the crossroads beside the hall and village shop. The route is signposted and for the first Kilometre follows a path through silver birch trees, across a burn on good footbridges but underfoot the stones are uneven, rounded and it is difficult to get any form of rhythm for walking so it’s a bit slow but that’s no bad thing as it gives time to admire the birds in the loch with ducks and swans and waterfowl all bobbing about.
At the two self closing gates that allow cattle to gain access from both sides for drinking water, our group of 36 all decided to go clockwise, loch side bulrushes and remains of old cottages that once stood there.
There is even a small chapel of sorts now all boarded up but with a stone cross on one gable end.
Some of our group had gone far enough by this time and decided on their lunch break where seating was available. There is also a fairly new wooden hut nearby with a solar panel on it and I was informed that the equipment inside monitors the depth of water in the loch for some of the authorities.
The main group carried on to reach the visitor centre which has picnic tables and seats with toilets adjacent to the path leading to the Burn o’ Vat. The Vat is a natural phenomenon which has been formed by stones and water swirling round for many millions of years.
There is a gap leading into the open topped cave structure but can be inaccessible when the burn is in spate.
After lunch the walk continues through heather and grassy paths all surprisingly dry after the long winter.
The next feature is the small island in the loch on which once stood a Crannog that amazing house on stilts that were difficult to invade. Families and their animals all stayed in the Crannog during the darkness and in bad weather but could easily come ashore when conditions improved and food supplies needed topping-up.
The Group passed a site where horse-jumps had been erected for practice and not far from there are some burial areas with headstones marking the spot.
Before this is the sign for the Esker and the features mentioned earlier are all there to be seen. Indeed there are lots of piles of relatively small round stones about 4 to 5 inch diameter located all the way round the loch.
Just as our walkers returned, a light rain shower blew over after a fine dry day with sunshine but certainly colder. Indeed as I write this the view from my window is white with snow and its cold too.
Although not too long a walk – maybe about 5 miles – this was a fine level meander in some of Scotland’s finest scenery.
Next time we are going to St. Cyrus to see the snowdrops before they disappear at Ecclesgreig Castle and surrounding woodlands.
The main group will get an eight mile walk over the hill and back by the Morphie Den.
This is on Tuesday 22nd March and the bus will leave from the Burgh Buildings car park at 10.00 am.