The Hills of Cromdale riding in a long arc above the Haughs of Cromdale., all above the old settlement of……..you guessed it….Cromdale. A quaint little town along the banks of the Spey (or near it) home to one of the oldest distillery and countless illicit ones hidden in the patchy wooded and thick heather slopes (obviously not these days but you never know!)
Being not very high hills, this would be another of those pre-dram walks, taking up just enough time and producing enough sweat to earn probably more than just one. In addition, it has to be necessary for all you lovers of battle site and huge weird cairns.
But tales of slashing sabers and man handling of stone to come later, first we begin at the start of the walk. In this case two places could be used, the farm at Lethendry offers parking off the road, if you ask first at the farm house (it is a working farm) or there is a small layby near the track at NJ101285 which is better to visit the battle site. I took the farm route but only because I did not know about the layby. But regardless both offer those lovely farm tracks upto Clash nam Piobair or better known as the pipers stone – quite a climb upto it but well worth the views your get now that a lot of the forest is cut down below it.
The top above is reached by following the very boggy path to the first cairn, a huge pointy thing commemorating a coronation. The other cairn, the jubilee cairn, is quite visible from this one to the north and has a little visitor book hidden in its depths – good for those who like to leave a trace of their visit.
Views again are great of the glens below it, Glenlivet to the east and Grantown to the west with the cairngorms putting in a nice appearance to the south on clear days, this day not being one of them. However, never mind, the wind was howling as always, the ground underfoot was spongy (very spongy), the drenched mosses and heather giving way to my feet like a trampoline would.
By far the best bit to this walk has to be the stones, cairns and battle site, all offering a sort of weird presence to the place, but to explain this means venturing into that historical stuff again.
The battle known as the battle of Cromdale was between two forces, the government and Jacobite. The Jacobite being more on a recruitment drive rather than a picking fights mission camped after a long days on the Haughs of Cromdale while in the mean time government forces learning of their presence marched up from Inverness and spotted then from grant castle. They could of rested but the grants among them were eager to march on and attack at first light. If the Jacobite had used the old method of everybody being awake and at their post during the ½ hour of first and last light, things may have panned out differently. The government forces crossed the spey near dallachappie and after putting a small guard there out of action marched on undetected to the main camp. Eventually the alarm was raised once this huge government force was seen but way to late and a massacre then ensued whereby the Jacobite were totally routed.
Some did manage to get organized and did a defensive action to the castle at Lethendry but these too were eventually overcome. Despite the government decisive victory, it did come at a cost as do all battle, one such victim was a piper called Hamish whose sweet tunes gave courage to the government forces and the grants. The piper’s stone was placed to commemorate his death, but walkers should beware for it is said that he is still around sometimes during days of wind when he appears beside the unsuspected gesturing them to follow him to his death bed amongst his fallen buddies…spooky.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.