Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Walk 190 -- Findhorn to Forres

Ages: Colin was 66 years and 89 days. Rosemary was 63 years and 232 days.
Weather: Hot and sunny with a pleasant breeze.
Location: Findhorn to Forres.
Distance: 6½ miles.
Total distance: 1656½ miles.
Terrain: Little beach, mostly road. Flat.
Tide: In.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties: No.18, the Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery where we sampled a free ‘wee dram’ even though the distillery closed down 25 years ago!
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday cottage in Gardenstown. We drove to Forres in order to glean some local information (bus times, etc) from the Tourist Information Centre. Then we drove out to Dallas Dhu and toured the distillery. Finally we returned to Forres, parked the car and took a bus out to Findhorn. We walked to the exact spot where we left the beach yesterday.
At the end, we crossed into Forres over the level crossing, returned to our parked car, drank our tea, then returned to our cottage in Gardenstown.

It was gone lunchtime by the time we got to Findhorn today, so we sat at the top of the steps near where we had parked our car last time to eat our sandwiches. It was a beautiful day, and quite warm. There were lots of people on the beach with children playing everywhere. It was a very jolly scene! Someone had made a sand picture of a dolphin, and it was really good!
It was very clear — the Black Isle was in full view. Lots of yachts out in the Moray Firth. Some of them looked, to our eyes, as if they came from China or somewhere East like that.

We walked to the end of the sand spit, and Culbin Forest loomed on the other side. So near yet so far! If only we could cross that short stretch of water, we could walk along the beach to Nairn. Or so it looked, but we knew that to be totally impractical.
We had no idea how deep the bay entrance was, but guessed it was way out of our depth. Anyway, the tide was in making it even deeper. Even if we could persuade someone to take us across in a boat, there is no path along the beach the other side, just “dunes” which shriek of soft sand. The forest is a maze of pathways, most of which go round in circles and don’t join up. We could be lost for a lifetime in there!
So we rounded the spit and turned inland, still on the beach. Lots of small yachts were breezing in and out of the Bay, there must be a sailing club nearby. It was an ideal day for sailing, brilliantly sunny with a gentle breeze.

We watched some children catching crabs off the harbour walls, and everybody we passed seemed to be relaxed and enjoying themselves. Findhorn is a lovely place, very pretty. We bought an ice cream, and we were relaxed and happy too!

We passed people messing about in boats, three fat ladies enjoying the sunshine (especially the one doing her knitting) and had a look through a telescope mounted on a plinth — though we couldn’t see much. It was a lazy, daisy, hazy afternoon.
Out of Findhorn we had no choice but to walk on the road. It was too busy for our liking, but there was no alternative. Several times we tried to walk along the grass by the river, but it was a drained swamp and we kept getting turned back by deep drainage ditches.
It is all right for birdwatchers because they aren’t going anywhere, but we couldn’t walk along any distance.
We passed the end of the runway of RAF Kinloss, where we were warned of the dangers of low-flying aircraft. It reminded me of Ford Aerodrome in Sussex back in the early 50s.
I remember we were cycling as a family from Arundel to the beach at Climping, when we all got off our bikes and ducked because an aeroplane took off and flew so low over the road it really scared us. A couple of years later they closed the aerodrome and turned it into a prison!
When we reached the hamlet of Kinloss, we stopped by some trees to eat our chocolate. Then we turned off on a minor road to walk along the southern boundary of Findhorn Bay. Mindful of additional rule no.11, we took the shortest route along the narrow lanes to get to Forres.
We had occasional views across the basin, and of Forres in the distance. We also passed a highly decorated cycleway post, but otherwise this part of the Walk was a bit of a route-march. We reached a road junction on the outskirts of Forres, just before the lane went over the railway into the town.

That ended Walk no.190, we shall pick up Walk no.191 next time by the level crossing just out of Forres. It was quarter to six, so the Walk had taken three and a half hours. We walked into the town to where we had parked our car, behind the High Street. We drank our tea, then returned to the weird cottage we were renting in Gardenstown.

Dallas Dhu Distillery
Dallas Dhu Distillery is situated about a mile out of Forres to the south. It closed in 1983, and the buildings were taken over by ‘Historic Scotland’. That is why we visited it, free on our ‘English Heritage’ tickets. We toured it during the morning of the day we did this Walk, that is why we didn’t start walking until the afternoon.
We followed a ‘tape tour’ which was quite interesting. All the equipment has been left in place, and we were told the story of how the whisky used to be made.
On the ground floor was an old horse-drawn fire engine. I was particularly interested in this because my grandfather used to be Captain of the Arundel Castle Fire Brigade and was in charge of just such an engine. The pump was driven by steam, so they had to light a fire inside the engine to get steam up to work the pump and put out the fire! They could do this in only five minutes. This fire engine was last used in 1929, but my Grandad went better than this. His engine was used all through the Second World War, and the Duke of Norfolk’s private fire brigade was not disbanded until 1946. That fire engine is now displayed in Arundel Castle, West Sussex.
When we completed our tour, as is traditional with Scottish distilleries, we were given a ‘wee dram’! (It was not Dallas Dhu whisky as that is now quite valuable, but was a single malt from another local distillery.) Since we hadn’t paid for our tour, having got in free on our ‘English Heritage’ tickets, our ‘wee dram’ was absolutely free! I joked with the guide who was pouring it out, “If we go outside and come in again, free on our ticket, can we have a second wee dram?” He laughed and said, “Only if you go right outside the gate, then come in and do the whole tour again!” Then he told us of a local resident of Forres who joined ‘Historic Scotland’ solely for the purpose of getting his wee dram for free! “We had to put a stop to it in the end,”he said, “he was coming round too often!”

1 comment:

Jon Combe said...

Yes I too was tempted by trying to cross the mouth of the river, but there was too much water to consider it once I got there. The view was beautiful though. I too tried to leave the road but had to give up because of the amount of boggy areas, but at least the road had a pavement. Once the path joins the minor roads I took the "loop" up to Netherton and Seafield. Just past Seafield, there is a small car park just off the road (not marked on the map) and from here I found a lovely well maintained path alongside the river Findhorn which you can follow down to the cycle path bridge over the river. It at least made a break from the road!