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Tuesday, 15th June dawned sunny and warm. Well, I suppose it did – dawn that far north was far too early for me to be aware of it. But when I did wake up, the day was set fair for whatever I chose to do.

I chose to spend it on the vast 23,000-hectare Crown Estate of Glenlivet. The visitor centre in Tomintoul, where in normal times I could have bought a guide booklet, was and still is closed for Covid reasons, but this map was displayed widely, and I also had it in a leaflet I’d picked up. I decided to do Walk 1, the Glenmulliach Viewpoint Trail first, and then to explore the north of the Estate in the afternoon.

But first I was delayed by a small parking area, with an information board and a curious cube just 150 metres away.

I found myself in a small abandoned quarry, (this view taken from halfway up the hill)

with these at the bottom,

and perhaps a hundred jackdaws in total flying around at the top.

This was the curious cube. I’ve since been able to find out that I was at a spot called Glen Avon, but nothing about the monument – if that is the right description of it. [Later edit: But see bruceb’s comment below.]

I couldn’t and can’t work out what was reflecting what as I took this.

I drove on through Tomintoul, and made my way to the parking area which marked the start of Walk 1 (according to the leaflet, 3.5 miles, 5.5 kilometres).

Dark Green Fritillary (I think)

It was a lovely warm day – I even took a layer off, for the first time in my whole stay.

I think this may be a milkwort, but I am open to correction.

It really was lovely weather.

Through a gate, and all of a sudden the landscape changed.

There’s some kind of mast over to the right of the path in the distance.

Unexpectedly, and after a lot of upward effort, it was the end of the designated walk.

I was tempted to go on to the top of the ridge, but, given that I had already spotted the mast, and that ‘they’ clearly intended one to stop there, I feared a disappointing view if I continued, so I turned back after a short rest.

Some boggy plants lined the path at one point.

Once back through that gate again, the appointed path diverged from that on the way up, so I dutifully took it, and at that spot spent some time trying to capture this Green-veined white.

Tormentil

Two similar plants beside each other, and I reminded myself of the difference between gorse…

…and broom

At last back at the parking area, there were lots of people picnicking, so I took a quick tour of the pond, and drove off, on the lookout for a suitable stopping place on my way to the north of the Glenlivet estate to eat my banana.

Refreshed, I found myself on another single-track road, which was perhaps as well, as it meant there weren’t too many places to take too many photos.

I was heading for Drumin Castle, where I intended to do the Drumin Circular Path (‘2.5 miles, 4 km’) and assumed that this was it, but it was in fact Blairfindy Castle, near the Glenlivet Distillery, as I found later.

Arrived at the parking area for the Drumin Circular Walk, I explored my surroundings.

I found that I could visit the castle itself, taking either the slope or the steps. I chose the latter. Many of them were much steeper than this.

I was rewarded with a bank of comfrey on one side, a plant for which I have a soft spot.

Sadly, the first floor was out of bounds because of dangerous steps, but I enjoyed exploring the ground floor.

It didn’t take long.

The gentle way down led past this inviting and polite gate.

It led into a community orchard.

The walk down the slope was a delight.

And at the bottom I heard that contemporary rarity, a cuckoo. (You may have to turn your volume up very loud!)

The signpost points up the road I had come in by. I took it, but then could not find any other sign of the Path, despite wandering around for 30 minutes or so.

In due course I found myself level with the castle again.

So I just wandered back slowly to my car.

A rabbit scuttled away from me, but not very far, thinking that I might not see him if he kept very still. He was at my eye level on the roadside bank.

Time was moving on, the sun had long gone in, I had walked much more this day than any of the other days, and I was ready to return to the hotel, quite a way away by now. I have since learned that in any case the walk would not have been possible because of a broken bridge.

It had been a good day. It seems to me that exploring the Glenlivet Estate, whether following their suggested walks or not, could constitute a hole holiday and more in itself.

Taking a back road, I was interested to cross this truss bridge, which replaced two consecutive suspension bridges, at Cromdale, not far from Grantown-on-Spey.

After my last dinner at the Grant Arms Hotel, a film, ‘Scandinavian Cruise Ship Adventure’ by Nigel Marven, was shown. This was my last night in Grantown-on-Spey, but I had nearly four more days’ holiday remaining.