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Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one


Postby dogplodder » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:54 pm

Route description: Dunphail to Forres

Date walked: 25/11/2020

Distance: 15 km

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A week after making a pig's breakfast of finding the start point I was heading back for the last section of the Dava Way. No delay issues this time and I was parked ahead of schedule at the entrance to Grant Park, Forres, which was a relief after the previous week's shenanigans. We left one car there and drove to Dunphail to set off with a slight feeling of deja vu, back along the old railway line, this time heading for Forres. It was from the start pleasant and easy walking on a predominantly dry track. We followed the WH directions so I won't go into all the navigational details and let the photos speak for themselves.

In the shade in tree-lined avenue
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In the shade in old railway cutting
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Touch of frost approaching the pines
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In the shade and a few puddles
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Birch trees in winter garb etched against a blue sky
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Lone turbine
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Cows convention
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Muddy woodland track
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The information board at the Clashdhu crossing is about the hardy men who built the railway. Hundreds were involved, some from as far afield as the west of Scotland and Yorkshire. They lived in camps (like the Californian gold rush) and on pay day made quite a contribution to the hostelries of Forres and Grantown! A common medical complaint was varicose veins from the constant pressure of pushing heavy barrows up and down the embankments. Seems a shame all their effort to produce a railway was only a relatively short lived success.

Clashdhu crossing
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Iron bridge over Altyre Burn which dog refused to cross
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The bridge that was originally here was demolished when the railway closed and the need for a replacement became a stumbling block in efforts to open the Dava Way. The new iron bridge was finally built in 2004. But it was not to my dog's liking. As with one of my previous dogs, crossing bridges that have gaps showing the drop below is something Keira does not like. Sometimes I manage to coax her over but this one she point blank refused to cross. Fortunately there is a dog friendly alternative. Approaching from the south a narrow path goes off to the right and down to the burn, which can be easily forded at this point. I told Keira to go over which she happily did to find Moira waiting on the other side, and since there was no necessity for me to get wet boots I returned to the track to cross by the bridge.

The next bridge we came to was one to go under not over and it was a far more elaborate affair. The Scurrypool bridge spans the trail and the Altyre burn and is a category B listed building that was constructed in the mid nineteenth century from "rubble with tooled dressings". I'm not sure what rubble with tooled dressings means but from humble sounding beginnings it manages to look impressively solid and grand.

Scurrypool Bridge
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On a whim I sent a photo of it to BBC Scotland and to my surprise they published it.

Seeing double - bridge through a bridge
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Bridge from other side
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At the wonderfully named Squirrel Neuk Bridge we took mud avoiding action up the steps to the dry track above. Friends of ours had walked the waterlogged cutting and said it was worth avoiding.

We had no issues with route finding thanks to WH and occasional good signs
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At one point we caught a distant glimpse of what looked like the Sutherland coast. Then we came to a bench with a view which looked just right for a hot drink and sandwich. As we sat there two gents came along, made friends with the dog and stood and chatted for a while. We had pinched their seat but they were very gracious about it and coming from nearby Rafford gave us lots of info about good walks in the area.

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Pig farm with signs asking people not to feed them
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Although the pigs probably didn't agree with that
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Dallas Dhu distillery
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The distillery closed in 1983 but was reopened as a visitor attraction in 1988, preserved in full working order as a memorial to traditional distilling.

The only part of the route we weren't sure about was once we were in the outskirts of Forres but we knew we were heading for Sanquhar Loch and that helped..

Sanquhar Loch
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I don't think so
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Leaving the loch we passed Forres Academy, skirted playing fields and headed for the main street. We had thought about stopping en route home for a coffee at Brodie but found ourselves outside a dog friendly cafe which just happened to have a table for us so what could we do? The proprietor and son were very friendly and the cappucino and chocolate cake were very good too!

From there it was just a short walk along the main street to pick up the car from Grant Park. We both agreed the Dava Way had exceeded all expectations and from the small number of people we met deserves a lot more traffic than it seems to be getting. Maybe it will be busier in spring and summer... although we found late autumn a perfect time for it.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby Sgurr » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:06 pm

. Autumn colours were lovely.. Good for you for getting a photo on the BBC, I sometimes send them, but more often than not they don't publish. One they did was on similar lines. We spotted a wedding photographer urging a couple closer and closer to the breaking waves and took a photo of him snapping THEM, which they liked.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby tweedledog » Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:12 am

Looks like a lovely walk Kathleen, and amid splendid autumn colours..
Re Keira and the bridge. Is it the the fact that she can see through the floor, as it were, or are those open metal strips uncomfortable on the paws? With Azul it tends to be the latter, which has become a particular problem now when I take visitors (what visitors this year?) up to the Lost Valley in Glencoe. At the start of the path there used to be a set of wooden steps going down which Azul would happily negotiate. They've been replaced with metal ones which have holes and raised elements to give grip, and he refuses to walk on those. Last time I was there I had to carry him down like a suitcase using the handle on his harness. He was not pleased.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby gld73 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:18 pm

Oh well done on getting a photo published - I'm sure they must get loads sent in.

I did the Dava Way in late 2020 too, hardly saw a soul apart from local joggers/dog walkers on the stretches very close to the towns. Maybe in a non-lockdown summer it'll be a lot busier, it's certainly well sign-posted along the route.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:37 pm

Oh lovely :D Shame we can't re-walk Dava Way in current climate...

I remember we cycled this stretch once, I'm not a good cyclist (especially on bumpy tracks) but really enjoyed biking this route.
There is an old ruin nearby, called Blervie Castle, it can be seen from the path just south of Dallas Dhu distillery. I always wanted to photograph it from closer distance, but it is apparently part of a farm and not accessible to the public. I did as much research on it as I could. A large part of the tower has collapsed in recent years so now it's just one wall remaining. Old books show photos/sketches of Blervie when it was still complete. I always find it heartbreaking when historic listed buildings get neglected and forgotten :(
My old report with all info about the tower:
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=33593

BTW well done on impressing the BBC :clap:
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby prog99 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:54 pm

I'm from Forres originally. A long time(1985 I think) ago me and my mates camped under the upper arches of of one of those bridges. Had a great time , fell out and then quickly made friends again.
The dava way wasn't a thing back then so interested to have a look when able.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jan 16, 2021 4:49 pm

Sgurr wrote:. Autumn colours were lovely.. Good for you for getting a photo on the BBC, I sometimes send them, but more often than not they don't publish. One they did was on similar lines. We spotted a wedding photographer urging a couple closer and closer to the breaking waves and took a photo of him snapping THEM, which they liked.


I think I saw that photo. It was a cracker! :clap:
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby Border Reiver » Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:06 pm

I once had a Golden Retriever and he wouldn't cross anything he could see through. I manged to get him to cross a wooden plank type vehicle bridge that only had 1" gaps and he went across almost crawling with his legs splayed right out to he sides. Very strange considering he loved water.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:25 pm

Lovely autumn pics :clap: :clap: . Your story about Keira refusing the bridge got me wondering about the four dogs we've had over time, and how they would have reacted. At the moment I think 2 would have been fine with the bridge, one would definitely have refused (he would have asked to be carried through the water though :roll: ), and the other one would have found a different way across before we realised there was a problem :lol: :lol:
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:02 pm

tweedledog wrote:Looks like a lovely walk Kathleen, and amid splendid autumn colours..
Re Keira and the bridge. Is it the the fact that she can see through the floor, as it were, or are those open metal strips uncomfortable on the paws? With Azul it tends to be the latter, which has become a particular problem now when I take visitors (what visitors this year?) up to the Lost Valley in Glencoe. At the start of the path there used to be a set of wooden steps going down which Azul would happily negotiate. They've been replaced with metal ones which have holes and raised elements to give grip, and he refuses to walk on those. Last time I was there I had to carry him down like a suitcase using the handle on his harness. He was not pleased.


Thanks Andy. I think with Keira is could be a bit of both. She had an unfortunate experience with a cattle grid when I was trying to work out what to do and she took a run at it, getting her leg stuck at speed, which must have been painful. But before that she was wary of crossing anything with open slats so cattle grid has probably confirmed in her mind that anything similar is to be avoided.

I remember the metal stairs to Lost Valley and the chain to grab at other side, and reckoned it was a deliberate ploy to filter out the unfit tourist from going any further. :lol:
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:10 pm

gld73 wrote:
I did the Dava Way in late 2020 too, hardly saw a soul apart from local joggers/dog walkers on the stretches very close to the towns. Maybe in a non-lockdown summer it'll be a lot busier, it's certainly well sign-posted along the route.


We seem to have been following the same routes lately and quite funny we didn't meet up locally but at the far end of Glen Tilt! :D
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:15 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Oh lovely :D Shame we can't re-walk Dava Way in current climate...

I remember we cycled this stretch once, I'm not a good cyclist (especially on bumpy tracks) but really enjoyed biking this route.
There is an old ruin nearby, called Blervie Castle, it can be seen from the path just south of Dallas Dhu distillery.


I remembered about the castle from your report. Also that you had a photo of Lochindorb which we never got close enough to see or photograph so presumably you'd gone off track for that one? 8)
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:22 pm

prog99 wrote:I'm from Forres originally. A long time(1985 I think) ago me and my mates camped under the upper arches of of one of those bridges. Had a great time , fell out and then quickly made friends again.
The dava way wasn't a thing back then so interested to have a look when able.


Scurrypool bridge would have done nicely for camping under if it was that one. Sounds fun. :-P
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:29 pm

Border Reiver wrote:I once had a Golden Retriever and he wouldn't cross anything he could see through. I manged to get him to cross a wooden plank type vehicle bridge that only had 1" gaps and he went across almost crawling with his legs splayed right out to he sides. Very strange considering he loved water.


Both my labradors with a fear of crossing bridges with gaps were/are strong swimmers. Tess would rather have crossed through a raging ravine than go over the bridge and Keira adopts a crab-like gait if she really has to go over it.
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Re: Dog refused the bridge but BBC liked the next one

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:33 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote: Your story about Keira refusing the bridge got me wondering about the four dogs we've had over time, and how they would have reacted. At the moment I think 2 would have been fine with the bridge, one would definitely have refused (he would have asked to be carried through the water though :roll: ), and the other one would have found a different way across before we realised there was a problem :lol: :lol:


At least cocker spaniels are easier to carry than labradors! :lol:
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