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Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey


Postby dogplodder » Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:32 pm

Route description: Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Carn Bhac, Inverey

Munros included on this walk: Carn Bhac

Date walked: 23/06/2015

Distance: 25 km

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We parked in the car park at Inverey where there was one other car already there, owner of which we met later. Inverey is apparently the last place in the east of Scotland where Gaelic was spoken. We took the track south along the Ey burn, passing a group of buildings on the way.

This house has a similar look to ones we saw on the Balmoral estate
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Through tall pines to a gate
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Track dropping gently to one of several bridges it crosses over the Ey burn
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Track now on west side of the burn heading south
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This glen has the slightly desolate air of an area that suffered from the infamous clearances with hints of past life and cultivation about it. On the long walk in there was plenty of time to reflect on what that life might have been like for the hardy folk who eked out a living here.

Possibly the ruins of abandoned farm at Auchelie
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View south to the hills we're heading for
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This level green area looks ideal for cultivation and cattle-grazing but there's none here now
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Track crosses the Ey for a third time
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On west side of burn again the track leads to a clump of pines at the old shooting lodge at Altanour.

Approaching Altanour Lodge
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We found a place to sit on the grassy knoll across the track from the ruin to have a coffee and drink in the view to the south..... then noticed we weren't alone. A camper with his bike suddenly appeared from the burnside and asked if we knew the weather forecast for today and tomorrow, which we did. He'd climbed hills the previous day, camped by the burn and was heading for Linn o' Dee to access some remote hills from there. It was his car sitting in the car park. I think he was glad of company as was in no hurry to go and stood chatting a while before we wished him well and he cycled off.

Then we had a closer look at the ruins of the lodge. There was less of it left standing than I'd expected.

All that's left of the lodge
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Here's a link to a photo of it in 1952, in need of some attention but still complete with its roof on.

https://cairngormwanderer.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/bygone-cairngorm-bothy-photos/

While we were packing our bags to leave the grassy knoll to the resident sheep a vehicle pulled up and spilled out a bunch of guys turning a place of peace and solitude into somewhere that suddenly felt quite busy. They looked official and wandered about with clip boards, taking notes and photographing the ruins of the lodge and the immediate area. We wondered if they had plans to rebuild it but they gave us no eye contact so we didn't ask.

We got on our way again following the track as it turned from gravel to grass and muddy tyre marks, seeing more forlorn evidence of former habitation in the glen.

More ruins and Beinn Iutharn Mhor
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We knew we had to make a long rising traverse to reach the bealach between Carn Creagach and Carn Bhac but due to not looking at the map I led us further up the SE flank of Carn Creagach than we needed to go which was warm work in the sun.

Climbing the side of Carn Creagach
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The upside of this slight navigational detour was having to stop to apply sun screen and seeing an eagle soaring overhead which we might not have seen if we hadn't sat down. Its wing span was huge and there was no doubt it was an eagle. Given the location I assumed it was a golden eagle but when we mentioned seeing it to fencing workers on our way back down the glen they said it would have been a white-tailed eagle as there's a pair nesting there. I've seen sea eagles on Mull but didn't expect to see one in Glen Ey and I was only seeing it from underneath so couldn't see the white tail! I'm sorry I didn't get a photo but as usually happens with me I was mesmerised watching it until it was a distant blur.

We also came quite close to a herd of deer - their coats a rich russet red in the sun. The sentry deer had been watching us for a while but when we reached the psychological point of unacceptable nearness to where they were grazing they loped off towards the bealach. It looked like they were responding to a pre-arranged signal and I'd love to know what that was. The bealach is where we were heading too so we traversed round the shoulder of Carn Creagach until we got our first view of Carn Bhac, which is so secretive and unspectacular looking it must be one of the least photographed Munros. Looking across the peat hags we could see two paths up and headed for the more substantial one.

Across the bealach to Carn Bhac
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The path we followed led to a zigzag climb up a band of rocky scree, which was thankfully short, to top out on the stony summit plateau. From there it was a short walk over boulders and moss to reach the cairn from which the views north were spectacular, making up for the fact the hill itself lacks any features of great character.

Cairngorms from summit
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Zoomed to Lairig Ghru
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SW to Carn an Righ and Beinn a' Ghlo
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Zoomed to Beinn a' Ghlo
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Moira at summit cairn
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Convenient seating in the windbreak for lunch
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For variety we took a different line down heading further south to reach the burn which had a path alongside all the way to where we joined the outward track back to Altanour Lodge.

The path we took down
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The burn we followed
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View upstream to flat-topped Carn Bhac
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The track back to the lodge
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The return walk down the glen seemed to take longer than the walk in and we joked about how good it would be if the guys we could see working in the distance would knock off early and offer us a lift. But it was easy walking and on the way out we noticed the recently shorn sheep we'd seen in the morning (clustered around a feeding station looking bemused as if they'd just been shipped in) had all disappeared. Wonder what that was about. We passed the fenced off Piper's Wood (to protect them from deer as an experiment in regeneration) and the Colonel's Bed, a rocky hideout for a Jacobite on the run for murder. Following the Battle of Killicrankie in 1689 the redcoats were unable to find him so made do with plundering his castle while he remained hidden in the gorge..... but his loyal retainers made sure he survived to die of old age and he's buried in Inverey.

Sign for the Colonel's Bed
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We reckon we had about 40 minutes to go before reaching the car when we heard the sound of a vehicle behind us. It was the fencing guys we'd seen earlier and joked about them giving us a lift - and that's exactly what they did! It may not have reduced our walking time much but it felt such a bonus to climb into that landrover and be deposited back to the car with no further effort. We still weren't going all that fast and managed a fair bit of chat on the journey, learning that the guys we'd seen at the lodge were prospecting for another forestry regeneration like Piper's Wood. They also told us the sheep we'd seen had just been brought in and dropped off where we saw them looking disorientated earlier and that the eagle we saw was a white-tail not golden. So all in all it was an excellent lift for which we were very grateful! :D
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby mrssanta » Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:20 pm

This was a most enjoyable read - I remember Carn Bhac being rather boggy and uninteresting in itself, but the views were tremendous in all directions. You certainly got a smashing day for it!
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby Beaner001 » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:04 pm

My memories of this hill are what a lovely Glen Ey is, great views from the summit and extremely sore arms from the dogs pulling me as they had to have leads on due to the amount of sheep around :lol:
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby ancancha » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:01 pm

Really interesting photos in your link of Altanour Lodge, and until you read the story and discover that it was burnt down by fire difficult to believe the deterioration even in a generation. Guess it would look like Glenlochsie Lodge if not for the fire.
I saw quite a few diggers up there recently, so I guess your siting of the men with clipboards confirms they are up to something :?:
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby dogplodder » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:04 pm

mrssanta wrote:This was a most enjoyable read - I remember Carn Bhac being rather boggy and uninteresting in itself, but the views were tremendous in all directions. You certainly got a smashing day for it!


Considering the kind of summer we've had so far it was an amazingly good day. 8)
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby Caberfeidh » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:13 am

I once had a patient who was descended from folk who had lived in Glen Ey for generations. She told me of her family story of their men who had walked back to Glen Ey from near Inverness, barefoot over the hills in the snow to bring news of the defeat of the Jacobite force at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746...
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:11 am

Enjoyed reading this and had to remind myself when I ventured up this hill. Funny that you forget some hills while other stay in your mind forever. :D
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby dogplodder » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:40 pm

Beaner001 wrote:My memories of this hill are what a lovely Glen Ey is, great views from the summit and extremely sore arms from the dogs pulling me as they had to have leads on due to the amount of sheep around :lol:


Didn't have the mutts with me which was helpful as there was a sign at the start of the walk asking for dogs to be kept on lead until 20th August due to ground-nesting birds. 8)
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby TinaSevier » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:44 pm

I really enjoyed your report. I'm basically a want to be. I enjoyed my visit to Scotland but I feel that I missed so much by not being able to walk the hills. It's nice to be quite and enjoy the little things such as the wind on your face, the pebbles under your feet, and just the beauty of the land. Can I ask how you got started? Did you just wake up one day and say that's what I want to do? Scotland seems so different from the USA, here I honestly don't have much desire to go walking. To scared of the people I would meet, the garbage that's carelessly discarded, the fast pace that you have to always get things done. There, I felt like I came home! I already trying to schedule my next visit.
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby dogplodder » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:07 pm

ancancha wrote:I saw quite a few diggers up there recently, so I guess your siting of the men with clipboards confirms they are up to something :?:


According to the fencing guys it's to do with forest regeneration. 8)
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby ancancha » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:17 pm

dogplodder wrote:
ancancha wrote:I saw quite a few diggers up there recently, so I guess your siting of the men with clipboards confirms they are up to something :?:


According to the fencing guys it's to do with forest regeneration. 8)


Oh well I guess that's alright then :wink:
I like trees and they could really be doing with stabilising some of the haggier peat hags and I'm led to believe that growing trees in them would be the way forward :?:
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby dogplodder » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:01 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:I once had a patient who was descended from folk who had lived in Glen Ey for generations. She told me of her family story of their men who had walked back to Glen Ey from near Inverness, barefoot over the hills in the snow to bring news of the defeat of the Jacobite force at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746...


I used to visit a lady in her 90s whose great granny in Halkirk remembered the men coming back from the battle of Culloden - they had walked all the way. :o
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Re: Ghosts of the past & white-tailed eagle in Glen Ey

Postby Jokester » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:02 pm

I was in Glen Ey three/four weeks ago and seen that eagle as well. Was being chased off down the glen by what looked like two ravens.
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