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  • Writer's pictureAilie Brown

Historic Speyside

There's so many special species to see in the Cairngorms National Park, from Golden Eagles, Crested Tits, Red Squirrels, Black Grouse to Ospreys and Slavonian Grebes, just to name a few. However, often when on our Guided Days Out we also come across some fascinating parts of history. The nooks and crannies of these old relics give home to wildlife with their old lichen covered stones, and sometimes, due to them being inaccessible, play refuge to some shier species.

A barracks standing on a mound over marshes on a sunny day.
Barracks providing a good lookout over the valley (Jane Hope)

These Barracks provide a good vantage point for looking over marshes which can give a feeling of remoteness. The imagination can wader of soldiers trapsing across these boggy marshes in the dead of winter to surprise the residents in the barracks.

Built in the early 1700s not long after the Jacobite uprising of 1715. The soldiers holding the fort so to say, were there to maintain law and order. During it’s hay day it saw action two times. An army of 300 Jacobite soldiers attacked the barracks and failed in 1745, however a more heavily-armed attack the following year forced surrender.

The ruins of a caslte in the middle of a loch on an island.
The ruined castle sits in the middle of a loch. (Jane Hope)

This loch nestled in the Cairngorms National Park gives off an eerie magical feeling. Surrounded by a wonderful pine forest which crossbills, crested tits and woodpeckers can be heard and sometimes seen dotting through the tops of the trees. On this natural island, the ruins of this 14th century castle stand. They had originally been built as a place of safety from thieves and other not so nice activities. It is thought that it was once owned by the Wolf of Badenoch, Alexander Stewart.

A pack horse bridge over a river.
This pack horse bridge is just over 300 years old. (Jane Hope)

The pack horse bridge situated in a local village, was built in 1717 in order to provide access for funeral processions to reach the church when the river was in spate, known locally as the the coffin bridge. It's a nice spot to see Dippers, particularly pretty in Autumn with the deciduous trees drape the view in orange hues.

Wildflowers surround the fields of a Castle
Wildflowers surround the fields of this Castle (Jane Hope)

It's a strategically built castle, making it a good wantage point. The fields below are home to a wonderful display of wildflowers during the summer months. These fields are home to flocks of linnets, chaffinches and bramblings, that feed on the wildflower seeds in the winter. Built towards the end of the Norman colonisation of Scotland, what makes this castle special is that it remains unaltered. The ownership had changed hands through alliances and marriage several times.

From the Jacobite’s, to the stories of the Wolf of Badenoch these pieces of history bring to life the ruins of these isolated Castles and stone bridges. We often stop at these places on our Guided Days Out, not only to admire them, but they make a wonderful wildlife watching opportunities.

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