The Roadender

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The Monday Walkers finally had a hill walk on January 31 but, on a cloudy day, only three got to the top.

They parked at Glen Moy Farm (Landranger map 44, 404648) and followed the track west.

A new footbridge crosses a tributary of the Burn of Glenmoye and this leads to three high points: The Aud (1300 feet), Tops of Pichell (1875 feet) and Manywee (2,225 feet).

Under heavy cloud one group turned before The Aud, a second group made it to the Tops of Pichell and three rugged types disappeared into the cloud and made it to the top of Manywee where they had to use a compass and GPS to find their way off the peak.

The track following these three high points is not marked on the OS map and this has always been a problem for map makers. A map is incomplete the moment it is finished.

Consider the First Series of the Ordnance Survey. This started in the summer of 1747 at Fort Augustus.

When Scotland had been surveyed, the south coast of England was mapped because the government was worried about the French under Napoleon.

The survey moved slowly northward in England until it was decided that the mapping of Ireland was more important.

Many years later, the survey moved back to England and the last map of the first series, that of south-west Northumberland was published in 1870, 123 years after the survey had started!

So railways were shown on the maps of Northern England but the maps of Southern England and all of Scotland showed no railways in 1870.

So we should not complain that a new track above Glen Moy is not shown on Sheet 44 of the Second Series.

Everyone returned along the track on the eastern side of the Burn of Glenmoye which is marked on the map.

Winter returned to Brechin on Monday, February 7.

Wet snow was falling as eight walkers drove to Fettercairn to walk on the Fattercairn and Fasque Estates.

We parked in the pretty market square of Fettercairn (Landranger Sheet 45, ref 651735).

Leaving the village along the B966, we took a path into beech woods which run parallel to the road for about half a mile until it reaches the drive of Fettercairn House.

Fettercairn House is listed Grade B by Historic Scotland and is still occupied. The garden wall is also listed Grade B by Historic Scotland. We walked by it but could not see in.

There are some strange trees near the house. I wonder if a head gardener, or an owner, amused himself by pruning some trees into unnatural shapes.

One tree is so twisted that it looks like a swarm, of snakes. Another large tree, a cedar, has a succession of branches in the shape of the letter U.

They must have been held down for a few years and then allowed to grow upwards again while a new branch was similarly distorted. Children would be intrigued by these weird trees but they would not want to observe them in weather such as we experienced.

As we left Fettercairn House and headed for Fasque, wet snow in large flakes was blown into our faces and, underfoot, the drive was slush over ice.

Fasque House is listed Grade A but is in a poor state of repair.

It has been for sale for some time but with sixteen bedrooms it is not exactly a bijoux country cottage.

It was built in 1809 by Sir Alexander Burnett Ramsey who was connected with the Burnetts of Crathes. It was sold in 1829 to John Gladstone from Liverpool. The family was of Scottish background having been farmers in the Borders. John Gladstone had a son, William, who spent much of his childhood at Fasque and visited frequently when he became prime minister of Britain four times during Queen Victoria’s reign. The estate was very large in those days, encompassing 80,000 acres and bordering the Balmoral estate.

The house actually belonged to William’s older brother, Thomas, and the Prime Minister had his homes in Wales and England.

We walkers have peered into the house on previous walks and it was obviously very elegant in its day and it had its own school and church. Among the outbuildings which are also listed Grade B is an Apple House within a walled garden. We will attempt to see it on a summer’s day.

Monday, February 7 was not a day to stand around. We were all dressed warmly with multiple layers and we needed them. The weather was so snowy and windy, I am not sure which way we got back! I had the hood of my heavy Newfoundland fisherman’s waterproof over my head so visibility was limited. I think we went through the Fasque Home Farm and along a back road via Nether Thainston.

A farmer, on his tractor, in a heated cab, must have thought we were crazy. Nevertheless we exercised our hearts and lungs and tested our waterproof clothes!

We walkers think of severe weather as a challenge, perhaps like hitting ourselves over the head with a hammer.

We know that the Fettercairn and Fasque estates will be beautiful when we are there on a sunny day