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the mouth of the Corry, whence we quickly descended to "The Hut,' and
Sresently after reached Inchnabobart. ur progress to Ballater does not require a narrative, and about eight o'clock we were at Abergairn.
"About 40 alpine flowering plants and 20 cryptogamous plants were collected. Very few vertebrated animals were met with. Not a single quadruped or fish was seen; only one reptile, the common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara), which we caught, and about a dozen species of birds; the Rook (Corvus frugelegus), the Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), the Dipper (Cindus aquaticus), the Coal tit (Parus ater), the Chaffinch (Fringilla ccelebs), the Kestrel (Falco trununculus), the Buzzard (Buteo vulgaris), the Sparrow-!hawk (Accipiter nisus), all in Glen Muic; and on the mountain the brown Ptarmigan (Lagopus scolicus), the Gray Ptarmigan (Lagopus cinereus), the Snow Bunting (Plectrophanes nivalis), the Ring Ousel (Turdus torquatus), the meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), everywhere up to the summit."
Excursus To Braemar.
From Ballater to Braemar you can proceed by either bank of the Dee. That on the north side is the coach road, and, as far as the road is concerned, is the better of the two. Starting from Ballater, we pass round the base of Craigendarroch, leaving it on the right . On the left, as you leave the town, is the Free Church. At a mile and a half is the Bridge of Gairn over the water of Gairn, which joins the Dee just below. There is very fine scenery up the valley, Glen Gairn, through which it flows. About a mile further the Girnock joins the Dee from the south side, coming down a vale known as Strath Girnock. Then comes Coille-erich, or Coil-a-creich, where there is a small inn, and a mile beyond is Micras, lying a little to the north of the road. M'Gillivray says of this little clachan—"More characteristic specimens of Highland huts than those you see occupying very picturesque stations on the hillside at Micras one
seldom meets with. Yet they are very different from Irish cabins, for they contain abundance of good things, and their inhabitants, Gaelic-speaking Celts, have very little moral affinity with the Celts of the 'sister isle.'"
About a mile further on, but on the opposite or south side of the river, is Abergeldie Castle. It is beautifully situated in the bosom of a fine valley; extensive woods clothe the lofty hills to the south-east, and the summits of Lochnagar in the distance close in this grand Highland landscape. It belonged once to Mowats, and passed from them to Gordons. It is at present part of the royal demesnes. Birkhall, already mentioned in the excursus to Lochnagar, along with the estate and castle of Knock, is also royal property, having been purchased from Mr. Gordon of Abergeldie in 1848, and these estates are now the property of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Its birches have been celebrated in an old Scottish song—
"THE BIRKS OP ABERGELDIE.
"Bonnie lassie, will ye go,
"Na, kind sir, I danrna gang,
Says M 'Gillivray—'' Having passed a little bit of low moor, sprinkled with very pretty bushes of birch, we come, a little beyond the 48th milestone (from Aberdeen), to the church of Crathie, with the schoolhouse on an eminence, from which, as from many others, is obtained an extensive view of mountain slope, tufted wood, and winding river. But more than this; there, on that slightly elevated plain, bounded by a curve of the Dee, and covered with birch trees, rises Balmoral Castle, the autumnal residence of the royal family. This first view of it excites the most pleasing emotions. Were it on a bog or on a sandbank, it would bo in one sense just as interesting. Extended and improved as it has recently been, it is a beautiful object in itself, and receives from the birch forest that stretches far around it an increase of beauty. Whether this be one of the finest sites on the Dee or not, it is yet by far the most interesting, and perhaps ever will be."
Sir Alex. Leith Hay tells us that the castle, which is situated on the south bank of the Dee, is itself a modern building, erected by the late Sir Robert Gordon, who, having obtained a lease from Lord Fife, with great taste availed himself of the natural beauties of the place, and formed at the same time a wild and ornamented residence. It formerly belonged to the Farquharsons, descendants of the family of Inverey. In 1848 the reversion of the lease was bought from the trustees of the late Sir Robert Gordon by H.R.H. the late Prince Albert; and later the estate was purchased by him from the Fife Trustees for £31,500. The Prince bequeathed it to her Majesty, who has since added very largely to the extent of the estate, besides erecting a spacious palace and greatly beautifying the grounds. The three estates of Birkhall, Abergeldie, and Balmoral comprise upwards of 35,000 acres. Balloehbuie Forest has recently been added to it by purchase from Colonel Farquharson of Invercauld.
The Queen arrived on her first visit to Balmoral on Friday, September 8, 1848. She thus describes it:—"It is a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style. There is a picturesque tower and garden in front, with a high wooded hill; at the back there is wood down to the Dee ; and the hills rise all around.
'' There is a nice little hall, with a billiard-room ; next to it is the diningroom. Upstairs (ascending by a good broad staircase), immediately to the right and above the dining-room, is our sitting-room (formerly the drawingroom), a fine large room, next to which is our bedroom, opening into a little
dressing-room, which is Albert's. Opposite, down a few steps, are the children's and Miss Hildyard's three rooms. The ladies live below, and the gentlemen upstairs.
"At half-past four we walked out and went up to the top of the wooded hill opposite our windows, where there is a cairn, and up which there is a pretty winding path. The view from here, looking down upon the house, is charming. To the left you look towards the beautiful hills surrounding Lochnagar, and to the right towards Ballater, to the glen or valley, alone which the Dee winds, with beautiful wooded hills, which reminded us very much of the Thuringerwald. It was so calm and so solitary it did one good as one gazed around, and the pure mountain air was so refreshing. All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and all its sad turmoils.
"The scenery is wild, and yet not desolate; and everything looks much more prosperous and cultivated than at Laggan. Then the soil is delightfully dry. We walked beside the Dee, a beautiful rapid stream, which is close behind the house. The view of the hills towards Invercauld is exceedingly fine."—(Leaves.)
A little beyond the 49th milestone a road strikes off to the north. It was. a military road, formed after 1745, to communicate between Perth and Corgarff and Fort - George. Near this stood the old house of Monaltrie, burned down in 1745. It was reerected near Ballater. The village, a mile or so on in the valley down by the water-side, is still called The Street of Monaltrie. Near it are the remains of some standing - stones, or so-called Druidical temple. Beyond the village is a cairn called Cairn-na-cuimhne, or Cairn-a-quheen. This was the slogan or watchword of the country, and this cairn was the rendezvous.
On the south side of the river is the burn of Gelder and the farm-house of Invergelder. The hill on the north side of the valley is Craignortie. Opposite, and at the distance of about 6 miles due south, is Lochnagar.
A little beyond Cairn-a-quheen is the burn and inn of Inver, and then the Invercauld Arms Inn about a mile and a half from Balmoral Castle. The road now goes over a plain and level haugh till you reach the bridge of Invercauld.
Says M'Gillivray — "At length we stand on the lofty mid-arch of Invercauld Bridge. Before we pass on, let us pause once more—not because we are weary of travel or of the world. Here the bed of the Dee is obliquely intersected by a broken ridge of slaty rock, passing from south-west to northeast. The stream is broken by it into a succession of little falls and rapids, and then glides away over its stony bed to wind afar amid pine-clad hills. Beautiful scene ! I almost weep when I look upon thee; for tears flow from the pure fountain of happiness as well as from the troubled springs of sorrow. How unlike in thy quiet loveliness to the fierce rudeness of human nature. Not a living creature is to be seen but a lad whipping the water. The western sun shines in full splendour in a sky unobscured, although scattered flakes of white vapour glide slowly eastward in its upper region. Long shadows are projected from the tall pines, while the hill-tops, purpled with flowering heath, or gray with lichen-crusted stones, are lighted with the blaze. Far away up the wooded glens is still seen the scarred ridge of Lochnagar. Not a breath stirs the tiny leaf of the birch, nor a sound is heard but from the waters. Ought not ho to whom Providence has allotted all this to be happy? The scene is mine and thine; tut happiness comes not from without. Yet, oh Invercauld! thou hast a patrimony of beauty. May it long be enjoyed by thee and thine! I see nothing wanting but scattered homes of happy tenants, and little patches of yellow corn, and cows feeding by the river and sheep on the hills.
"Between the bridge and the Castletown, is a most beautiful tract, overhung on the southern side by craggy hills and abrupt rocks, profusely wooded along their bases, and even on their summits. It is still a region of woods; but green pastures and cornfields stretch along the river, and on a beautiful
green terrace, backed by plantations of pine and other trees, stands Invercauld House on the north side. At length we reach Braemar Castle, and—one more effort—walking as smartly as if nothing were the matter, we arrive at the capital of Braemar."
Before reaching the Bridge of Invercauld, the steep pine-covered mountain on the left and on the south of the river is the Forest of Ballochbuie. It is said that it was given to the Farquharsons by the Earl of Mar for a tartan plaid. It is now the property of her Majesty.
Through the forest there runs into the Dee the stream of the Garrawalt, the falls of Which are considered to be the finest on Deeside. '' The water comes foaming and raging and toiling down over and through the rocks, in a manner almost impossible to be described." Its name, "Garbh-allt," rough brook, well characterises it. M'Gillivray says of it—"Wandering on, we are led by the sound of waters to the Garvalt, which we find rushing and foaming down a rocky cleft, and then hurrying over the blocks and stones which, form its path and rise on either side into ridges."
Above the bridge is an immense stone, called Erskine's Stane, or the Muckle Stane o' the Clunie; it was formerly one of the march-stones between the lands of Erskine of Clunie and Farquharson of Invercauld. Clunie House is a little beyond, on the north side of the road.
"You will have obrlrved sometime before this, on the sou side of the road, a most stately anv 'wful rock rising nobly up from the bo om of the glen, as straight almost as an arrow. This is Craig-Clunie; and as you now go along the road at the foot of it, it presents a most awful appearance—its great rocks rising one above another, up almost to the clouds, and hanging gloomily over as if they were ready to fall down and crush you into powder. A more noble rock than this is nowhere to be seen. It is sometimes called the Charter Chest, because there the Laird of Clunie, in times of danger and tribulation, used to hide his charter chest. After the battle of Culloden, in the year 1746, Colonel Farquharson of Clunie hid himself in a cave far up this rock for the space of ten months; and it is said that, when lying there in the silence of the night, he heard the sounds of merriment which King George's soldiers were making in his house."
The great rock on the south side is called the Lion's Face, and opposite to it on a broad plateau swept round by the Dee stands Invercauld House (Col. Farquharson). "The Farquharsons, of whom Invercauld is the chief, are the descendants of the Clan Chattan. Having settled on the banks of the Dee in 1371, they became a numerous, powerful, and warlike sept, taking part in most of the battles and skirmishes that for centuries depopulated the north. Farquhar, from whom they derive their name, was made Baillie and Chamberlain of Mar by Robert the Second."
A little further on, at the fifty-seventh milestone, is the Castle of Braemar, belonging to Colonel Farquharson, and sometimes used as a garrison. It is modern, having been built shortly after 1715. Half a mile further is the village of Castletown of Braemar, where it is said Malcolm Canmore had a hunting seat. At that time it was called Kindroghet. The old Castle of Braemar, on the east bank of the Water of Clunie, close by the bridge, is reputed to have been his lodge or hunting-seat. On a knoll a few yards east of the Invercauld Arms Inn, now removed for new buildings, John Erskine, the thirty-ninth Earl of Mar, on tho 6th September 1715, raised his standard in support of the Chevalier de St. George, whom he had previously, at Glenlivat, proclaimed king under the title of James VIII.
The Standard on the Braes o' Mar
Is up and streaming rarely; The gathering pipe on Lochnagar Is sounding lang and sairly. The Highlandmcn Frae hill and glen, In marshal hue, With bonnets blue, With belted plaids And burnished blades, Are coining late and early.
Wha wadna join our noble chief,
Clan Ranald's men,
The Lowlan' men,
Fy, Donald, up, and let's awa,
We canna langer parley,
Alex. Lainq of Brechin.
From Castletown of Braemar the road up Glen Clunie leads to Perth by the Spittal of Glenshee. From here, too, excursions may be made to Glentilt, to the Wells of Dee, Ben Muick-dhui, Cairngorm, Loch Avon, and the Spey.
About two miles above the Castletown is the Carr, with its Linn, and half a mile further on the Linn of Corrymulzie, near which the Earl of Fife has a summer residence. A mile further on the opposite bank of the river is Mar Lodge, a princely seat of the Earl of Fife. It was greatly damaged by the flood of August 1829. Onwards you pass the clachans of Muckle and Little Inverey, and the ruins of the old Castle of Inverey. Glens join the river valley on both sides, and every glen has its waterfalls. There is no end almost to the variety of scenes of interest which may be explored here.
A mile and a-half beyond Inverey is the Linn of Dee. Robertson says of it that it is by all allowed to be a most singular curiosity. The whole water of the Dee rushes through so narrow a channel in the rocks that a boy of five years old might leap across it. The force of the river is, as you may suppose, most tremendous; and the pool into which the water falls, after escaping from its toilings among the rocks, is said by the ignorant to be so deep that it has no bottom. M'Gillivray says, "Many people who visit it in expectation of a splendid sight are disappointed, and become vituperative; others, finding it a very curious place, are well pleased. I visited it in 1816, 1819, and 1830. My opinion of it in one of these years was this. It is by no means interesting, consisting merely of a pretty large stream dashing between rocks of no great height. At one place the breadth of the chasm is not more than four feet; and here a person may leap over, though there is some danger in returning, because one side is higher than the other. The leap is trifling; but the fury of the torrent boiling below makes it appear hazardous. I stepped over without disengaging myself from my knapsack or shoes; and not caring to leap up again with
my baggage, I clambered up the rock and continued my journey. When I came to it in 1850, I found my opinions quite altered; it seemed very interesting, and I felt no desire to step over it."
The Linn is sixty-four miles from Aberdeen, and here the carriage-road up the river ends. The tourist can proceed a few miles further on horseback, and with good Highland ponies it is possible, though with difficulty, to ride nearly to the source. There are only two houses higher up than the Linn, and these are about a mile from it, and no more trace of habitation is to be found till you cross over to Badenoch, where here and there may be seen a lonely shepherd's shealing.