Walk from Dufftown to Craigellachie, Sat 11th May 2019
Fifteen walkers assembled on the platform of the Keith Dufftown Railway Station on a fine spring morning at about 10.30am. Some took advantage of the excellent coffee and home bakes in the railway carriage cafe, before setting off on a leisurely walk down the old railway line to Craigellachie, about 4 miles.There were plenty of stops to look at flowers and trees and listen to birdsong.
Leaving Dufftown, we passed the Balvenie distillery and noted the blackened trunks and branches of the trees which have been subjected to a sooty fungus related to the distilling process.
There were plenty of spring and early summer flowers in bloom, including wood anemone, celandine, wood sorrel, golden saxifrage, stitchwort, sweet cicely, forget-me-not and the occasional bluebell. Amanda McAlister kept an exhaustive list of all botanical species which she has submitted for the log book. Birds were more evident by their song, though a grey wagtail and a dipper were spotted in the River Fiddich. Ian Suttie noted the birds he heard and saw, which has also been passed to the log book. Many thanks to Amanda and Ian.
For most of the walk the River Fiddich was in view and there were also traces along the way of the old railway line. We stopped for a picnic lunch where the line crosses the Fiddich with fine views of the river on both sides. A little further along, on the left hand side of the path, Mike Grant pointed out the remains of an old sawmill/cooperage which had closed as late as 1971, and which is now completely submerged in moss and undergrowth. This was the first business to have electric light in Moray.
We reached Craigellachie at about 2pm.
Bird Notes by Ian Suttie
The wooded bankings along the sides of the former railway track provided a pleasing
variety of bird life, identified by their calls and spring-time songs. Blackbirds and
Woodpigeons were in song near the Dufftown station where the party set off and a
pair of Jackdaws flew overhead. Blue Tits and Great Tits were feeding in the trees
near the distillery, where a noisy Starling was feeding young, and the fairy bell notes
“babbling brook”song from thick cover near a field edge then the first of many
Willlow Warblers was heard from birches on the left of the track. Other trees
included bird cherry, gean and hazel, ideal habitat for Blackcaps – a warbler with a
loud and melodious song, usually produced from cover, a total of 10 being heard in
the whole walk. Also widespread were Chaffinches, singing cheerily in the open tree
canopy, but only one Chiffchaff was heard – in trees near the River Fiddich. A
were seen on the last part of the walk and a Wren sang boldly from cover on a
banking as the party completed an enjoyable walk at the Craigellachie car park.