Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Thomas Telford

Cullodaen Memorial
In the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in Scotland, I thought it would be interesting to look at the life of the the founder and first President of the Institute of Civil Engineers, Thomas Telford who founded it in 1818.

In 1750 Scotland was a land of two parts: the prosperous lowlands and the Gaelic speaking and Clannish Highlands who were still recovering from the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
The landscape made it wild and remote with only a few tracks across the heather clad hills apart from the military roads built by General Wade to rush troops from Fort Augustus or Ruthven Barracks to Fort George. The tracks were well known to the Whisky Smugglers and the drovers who took their animals to market along drove roads to centres such as Crieff and Stirling, but were not easy to use in general.
Thomas Telford

Along came Thomas Telford who was to change all this during his lifetime. He was born in 1757 in a cottage by the River Esk near Dumfries in the south of Scotland. At 14 he was apprenticed to a
Burghead Harbour
Langholm stonemason where he learnt the basis of his trade for road building and bridges. At 23 he went to Edinburgh and learned about drawing architectural plans. At 24 he went to London intent on transforming the world. The Government having been impressed with his engineering skills sent him in 1801 to survey the Highlands and the coasts of Scotland. In the next 25 years he built or improved many harbours including Nairn, Burghead, Cullen and Banff. At the same time he designed and built the Caledonian canal between Inverness and Fort William which is still in use today. Roads that he designed and built include the road from Perth to Inverness and from Carrbridge to Banff this led to the building of many beautiful and substantial bridges. Bridges designed and built by Telford include a bridge over the River Tay at Dunkeld (still in use today) as well as my own favourite the
Craigellachie Bridge
Dunkeld Telford Bridge

Craigellachie bridge which was in use until the 1970s. Not content with canal, road and bridge building he also designed and built 32 churches and manses in the Highlands and Islands. There is a good example at Tomintoul although it has been extended. He died in 1834 in London and is buried in Westminster Abbey. One man in his life transformed the lives of fellow Scots by the building of roads, bridges, canals, harbours, churches and manses in Scotland. In this year of History, Heritage and Archaeology it is I think a good time to remember him.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Glenlivet and Tomintoul in the Snow



Looking out the window this morning made me think of this video that I did a previous year as it looks exactly like this again today. It is a real change from earlier this week when I was out in glorious winter sunshine and no snow!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Autumn Gold on Speyside - Where to see the colours?

I collected these leaves and let the sun illuminate them in the Alice Littler Park, Aberlour in the heart of Speyside. I love walking by the River Spey by the river on this part of the Speyside Way. I always see locals and visitors alike walking their dogs or playing with their children in the park. 

Most of our historic monuments and castles are open until the end of October and this includes the stunning Elgin Cathedral. The views from the tower in autumn show how many beautiful trees there are in Cooper Park and all the way down to Lossiemouth.
After a day of walking full of history and colour, it is maybe time for a wee dram of Malt Whisky - now what to choose - a 12 or 15 or 18 year old Glenlivet, Aberlour or Balvenie? You might prefer a local beer of which we have many from the Cairngorms Brewery as well as even more local ones. Anyone for a Black Gold or a Wild Cat? Steve is always happy to advise on Beer or Whisky and offer a wee dram at Bluefolds cottages.


Mist rising in the glen is a symbol of autumn on Speyside The mist is rising here from Ben Rinnes close to the walker's car park for the climb up the Ben. As you drive through the area, another favourite spot to stop and enjoy the colours is at the Craigellachie bridge, built by Thomas Telford in 1814. It is the oldest surviving cast iron bridge in Scotland. Its design has allowed it to withstand the many floods on the Spey and is an icon of the area.
Driving from Glenlivet through the Cairngorms National Park can take you to Loch and Eilean with stunning views to the Cairngorm mountains and a chance to walk round the Loch enjoying the autumn tints. October is one of my favourite months to get out and about in the Cairngorms and Speyside. Why not book a holiday at Bluefolds this autumn?

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Late Summer in Glenlivet - What to do?

Glenlivet to the Ladder Hills
Ladder Hills by Scalan
We have had fabulous weather this week which has been much enjoyed by our visitors to Bluefolds in fact it has been too hot, but we are not complaining just looking for more. Driving around Glenlivet and the Cairngorms National Park has shown that lots of visitors from all over Europe and many from further afield are now enjoying spending time in this stunning area of Scotland. I lost count of the number of cars I saw from Continental Europe who are able to take advantage of the better exchange rate at present. I went in search of heather and I found it on the Ladder Hills; on Aanside and all the way to Cairngorm Mountain through the National Park. There are many great walks on the Glenlivet Estate. We have the walk booklet with details of where to park and the exact routes in each of the cottages. Find Late Availability at Bluefolds I love to walk by the River Livet and there are a choice of walks. Walk 3 starts from the Allanreid car park (near Tomnavulin) and is a low level one along the banks of the River with some walking over moorland. It is a 6 mile circular walk with great views to the Ladder Hills. The Malcolm Gillespie Smugglers Trail in the Braes of Glenlivet starts from Chapeltown and is also circular over the hills for 6 1/2 miles. The Glen Brown walk through forest, farm and hill track is a shorter 4 1/2 mile walk with views down Strath Avon and up Glen Brown and starts from the White Bridge Car Park. All the walks have boards at the start of them showing the routes.  Find more information about these fantastic walks on The Glenlivet Estate

Driving along Aanside

Ready for a hill walk on the Glen Brown Circuit.

Skies and Heather

Cairngorm Mountain near the mountain garden

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dufftown Highland Games 30 July 2016

 Getting her steps photographed
Tossing the Caber
Massed Pipe Bands
Tug of War
Young People Dancing
Opening Ceremony
Highland games are a great chance to share and learn about Highland culture. We are lucky to have Highland Games throughout the summer starting with the Highland Games and Country Fair at Gordon Castle in the middle of May. We have just had the Tomintoul Highland Games held on the 3rd Saturday in July and this weekend we can enjoy the Dufftown Highland Games which is on the last Saturday in July and the Aberlour Highland Games follow on the first Saturday in August. This is a great day out for the family. I try to attend every year and am sad if I miss a year! Dufftown usually has 9 Pipe Bands from the local area which makes a very impressive sound in the arena. The Games start at 1030 with dancing and the young heavies taking part in the morning along with the start of the hill race up Ben Rinnes. At 1 p.m. the Massed Pipe Bands march from the Dufftown Tower to the field and perform several times during the afternoon with a final performance marching t from the Dufftown Tower between 6 p.m. and 6.45 p.m. The Opening ceremony is at 1.30 p.m. followed by the Heavy and Light events including the amazing Tossing the Caber and a firm favourite - Tug of War. There are children's races and Overseas races as well.

Friday, 1 July 2016

What a recent Guest thinks about Dronach cottage

This is one of many reviews for the cottage on Airbnb.
Dronach cottage is one of four cottages at the Bluefolds Cottages complex: They are picturesque stone cottages in a remote spot near the Glenlivet distillery. Our communication with Elizabeth was perfect and our interaction with her husband Steve at the cottage was wonderful. Detailed instructions are provided to find the place (although not complicated). We arrived in the rain on our bicycles and Steve was there to greet us with a roaring fire. Too wet and tired to travel the 10 miles to the nearest grocery store, Steve did a small shop for us to get us through until the next day. Our cottage was spacious, clean, warm, and everything worked. The coal driven stove is brilliant and easy to keep going. The views of the hills towards the Cairngorms is spectacular. We would highly recommend this spot for a secluded, quiet, and unique stay in the area. There is a grocery store in Dufftown 10 miles away as well as a quaint pub a few miles down the road, providing good meals (and drink). Steve checked in on us daily and provided a private whisky tasting. He is extremely knowledgeable and the experience was a real highlight of our stay. We loved our stay! Elizabeth Response from Elizabeth: Thank you for your lovely review. Enjoy the rest of your cycling round Scotland. June 2016

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Lecht Mine, Glenlivet

Lecht Mine from the Car Park
Across the Glenlivet Estate there is a range of historic sites and buildings waiting to be explored.  The Crown Estate Glenlivet
featured the Lecht mine in their Winter newsletter reprinted here. The mine is easily reached by a pleasant short walk from the car park on the Lecht road.


The Lecht mine

• Iron ore was first mined at the Lecht in 1730 by York Buildings Company of London. The mine was abandoned in 1737 due to substantial losses.

• The mined ore was transported on horseback across the Avon at the Fordmouth-Lynachork ford, and then over the Dorback Hills to Nethy Bridge. Wood from the Abernethy Forest was used to smelt it down into “Strathdoun (Strathavon) pigs”.

• The mine was re-opened in 1841 by the Duke of Richmond as a manganese mine, local stories tell that the Minister of Corgarff had to lend his bull to help drag the new heavy rollers over the Lecht Pass. However following the importation of manganese ore from Russia, the price fell from £8 per ton to an uneconomical £3 per ton, and the mine was closed for a final time in 1846.

• At the peak of activity over 60 men and boys worked at the mine and it was, and still is, the largest manganese mine ever worked in Scotland.

Lecht Mine building still standing - last used 1846
• In 1863 there was nearly a reprieve for the old mine when samples of iron ore were sent to James Morrison, Manager of the Ferryhill Iron Works, Co Durham, for assessment. He would gladly have taken 50,000 tons per annum, and all that was needed to secure viability for the re-opening of the mine was a railway link to Tomintoul, but in that time of economic retrenchment no-one could be found to back the proposed iron ore railway.

• The foundations of some other buildings can still be seen, but only the mine building has survived as it was very solidly built to carry the water wheel and heavy machinery.

• The mine building was restored and reroofed and interpretation about the mine workings installed in a joint project between The Crown Estate and Moray Council.