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From Cawdor to Nairn with Raspberry Ripper

From Cawdor to Nairn with Raspberry Ripper


Postby BlackPanther » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:59 pm

Route description: Nairn to Cawdor by the river

Date walked: 19/08/2012

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 18 km

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Sometimes a good low level walk can be just as enjoyable as a mountain route, it only depends on attitude :wink: We had experienced some big walking the previous weekend, so with weather more unsettled this time, we decided to take it a bit easier and simply lurk around the countryside.
On Saturday we went mushroom picking. Ha! I'm not telling you where :shh: My best places for the biggest, the juiciest chanterelles are my biggest secret :lol: :lol: A bit disappointed though, we only managed to collect about 1.5kg. This time last year we could easily pick 4-5kg in one walk. I guess it's the result of the cold, miserable July we had this year.
Still, enough mushrooms for me to spend the whole Monday making pierogi... And it will take us another couple of days to eat them all :lol: :lol:
On Sunday Kevin suggested a longer walk along the River Nairn. We had a look at this particular route earlier this year but never actually managed to investigate the banks of this river properly. WH walk description goes from Nairn to Cawdor but in a small twist, we did this route in reverse, starting from the latter village.

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Of course Kevin knows exactly where to park and where to walk in Cawdor, it's part of his delivery area. He also knows all the farms, the names of the houses, all the little roads and tracks, basically anywhere where he had to squeeze through in his van :lol: During the day I heard a lot of stuff like: "Ah, that farm over there, called Bla-bla-bla, I went there last week, the owner has two very noisy dogs..." or "That house across the river, it's postcode is x-y-z, I struggled to get there in winter once, the road is so narrow..." He could actually work as a guide here :lol: :lol: At least I could be sure we wouldn't get lost.
So we left the car in Cawdor and after a short walk along the road we dived into the forest by Cawdor Burn. It's a wide path and honestly, even without a map the route is obvious:
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We were now surrounded by wildlife. Soon we left the road behind and enjoyed a nice woodland stroll. Indeed, I was busy collecting my 5-a-day:
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The burn is actually a small river:
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We reached the point where Cawdor Burn joins River Nairn - it was quiet and sunny, it felt like summer...
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Shame I didn't take my swimsuit...
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The river continues through the woods...
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...and so did we, following the path. After a couple of kilometres I noticed a small shrub with bright red ball-shaped fruit:
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I recognized them immediately: gooseberries! My parents used to grow them in the garden when I was a kid. Yummy!!! These here are wild gooseberries (Ribes hirtellum), a bit smaller than the commercial species:
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They looked so juicy that I couldn't resist and after taking some pictures.... Well... They were all gone :lol: :lol:
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Of course not all photo subjects were consumed! These little, yellow mushrooms are bovine boletes aka cow boletes (Suillus bovinus). They are edible though of a low yield, the best way to use them is to collect large amount and make mushroom soup. We left these few specimen where they grew:
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As we explored the banks of the river, we came across some more nice views. Basically, every corner and every turn of the path brought something new and interesting in sight:
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The water lever in the river was low...
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...but the banks were overgrown with vegetation. This lovely plant with pretty pink flowers drew my attention:
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It's actually an invasive species from Asia, Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), but can you think about anything negative when admiring these beautiful petals?...
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Further along, we came across a fallen tree - it must have fallen victim to the wind very recently:
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Still couldn't see Nairn :lol: :lol:
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Here, the banks of the river are strengthened by big boulders to stop erosion:
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...and the rocks provide good ground for some hopping :lol: :lol:
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The water flows fast:
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We have now walked about 1/3 of the distance between Cawdor and Nairn. The path left the very banks of the river for a short distance and took us through a jungle of brambles, balsam plants, high grasses and raspberries:
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A typical countryside postcard... maybe apart from the pile of rubbish in the middle...
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After a hot, cloudless morning, weather was getting a bit more moody:
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On the path:
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I slowed down again to fill my stomach... Good Lord, I never ate so many raspberries in my life :lol: Kevin joked that I turned into the Raspberry Ripper :shock:
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My lunch:
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Just couldn't resist them...
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We passed Howford bridge - this is the only place where the path merges with the local road for a very short time. Soon, it takes it's own way again and becomes a bit more muddy. On a warm summer day like we had and with water levels low it was all passable, but in spring when river is in spate this part would be liable to flooding:
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I noticed we had a companion. He stayed with us for a a few minutes and eventually we managed to persuade him to sit and let us take a photo:
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The poor fellow has lost a small part of his wing, but even with this little defect it was easy to identify as speckled wood (Pararge aegeria). This small, gentle butterfly is actually absent from most of Scotland but has recently re-colonized the far north-west of the country and the Moray coast. It was nice to have met one :D
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About 2/3 way to Nairn, we stopped for a short time at Graeme's pool:
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It's a nice viewpoint:
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Just a five minutes break and it was time to go... Though I permanently stayed behind... Too many raspberries :lol: :lol:
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I might have spent a couple of years in France but I'm not desperate enough to eat one of these:
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The path was still obvious:
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Another fallen tree:
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I wonder, was it the strong wind of last winter or simply bank erosion?...
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We were now only a short distance from Nairn and the path went through nice deciduous woodland:
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We spent some time exploring the fords along the river, they were all dry and it was easy to find way through the vegetation to the riverside:
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We reached Firhall Bridge and crossed to the other side:
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The river from the bridge:
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We picked a bench along the path to sit for a while and have something more substantial to eat than raspberries :lol:
View from the bench to the river:
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One can now walk to the centre of Nairn from here, but we didn't really need to do it, so we just continued to the second footbridge, Jubilee one, crossed it and took the return path along the river, soon joining our original route.
River Nairn From Jubilee bridge:
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We retraced our steps all the way back to Cawdor - the whole walk took us about 4 hours including time spent on lurking and the Raspberry Ripper activities :lol: :lol: Honestly, a fantastic low level walk, especially for nature-lovers. Lots to see and lots to photograph. We will come back here in winter time, it will be interesting to see the river frozen... And in the meantime, we'll prepare for another "mountain biggie" if weather allows. Meow!
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BlackPanther
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Re: From Cawdor to Nairn with Raspberry Ripper

Postby basscadet » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Wow i enjoyed reading that a lot.. I'm a keen forager too and even here in the town there is enough to be had to keep BC happy :)

Your report reminded me of the first time I ran away from home when I was just a nipper (maybe 10?) I got caught at cawdor.. they had the police dogs after me so nae hope of escape! A fine few days on the run though, foraging and sleeping beneath the stars.. good times :lol:
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Re: From Cawdor to Nairn with Raspberry Ripper

Postby ChrisW » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:39 pm

Great report BP, I love a good low level wander myself (as I'm sure you know from my time in Scotland) I find myself now desperately wanting some pierogi....and a few of those beautiful gooseberries, I used to live on those things as a kid (hated them when cooked though) really enjoyed this wander and look forward to more of the same sometime :D
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Re: From Cawdor to Nairn with Raspberry Ripper

Postby dogplodder » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:23 pm

Did this walk 2 weeks ago with a group including 5 small children and nearly had a mutiny on my hands (from the mums!). I'd done the walk before (but in March when vegetation was low)and rewalked the bit from where the path crosses the road to Graeme's pool (where the weeds had recently been cut down) so thought it all fine for the wee ones. But some sections were so overgrown with face high nettles (if you're only 4) the mums were demanding machetes - not to attack the weeds but to attack me! :shock: :lol: The other glitch was I'd made up a quiz for the kids to give them a focus and one of the things they had to look out for were the yurt shaped pig huts - which are no longer there! :? I was forgiven later when we got ice creams in Nairn! :D
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