Of the thirty members who met on Tuesday March 17, six chose to do the shorter walk, while the remaining 24 set off, past the side of the Panmure Hotel, and down a narrow path to the River North Esk. When we reached the Gannochy Bridge, we crossed the road diagonally, went through the famous blue door and continued up-river to the salmon loups.
I am always impressed by the different “moods” of this river, over a short distance. Downstream of Gannochy, it is mainly smooth and calm: sometimes wide and shallow; sometimes dark and deep. Once through the blue door, however, all this changes.
The river passes through a narrow gorge as it roars on its way. Just after the salmon loups, the river widens and flows silently; you can see fields on the opposite bank and it’s like being in another world.
It was at this point that we turned off the main path, away from the river, and took a path which ultimately brought us past a patch of snowdrops still blooming, then past the wall of the Burn Gardens and out on to the Glen road. We crossed the road then on to a muddy track through a strip of beech trees.
After a lunch break nearby, we continued on our way. The call went up that there was a deer over to our right. It was so still and stood looking at us that at first we thought it was a statue or model of some sort. However, when it took off, we could see that it was very much alive – and huge! Soon we joined the Burn Farm – Glenesk road near “The Neuk”. From there we turned left and after about quarter of a mile joined the Fettercairn – Edzell road (B966) at the Burn Smiddy.
Turning right, we walked the hundred or so yards to the Lang Stracht then walked – first in the wood, then on the road – until we came to the Arnhall road-end where we turned right. We passed a pair of cottages called “Lower Barracks”, with a plaque on them. This indicated that these used to be the homes of the officers who guarded the Italian prisoners-of-war, during the Napoleonic Wars. These prisoners reputedly dug the ditches which drained and made arable so much of the land round about.
Soon we were at the “Shakkin’ Brig”, a suspension bridge, where we crossed the North Esk again, thereby crossing from Kincardineshire to Angus. Up the Gassy Brae we went – our steepest climb that day - to the High Street and back to the cars.
The next walk will be on Tuesday, March 31 around Kirriemuir. As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.