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Donnie Ross, our Headkeeper on Gaick Estate took the Turnbull family who stayed with us at Kennels Cottage for a guided walk on neighbouring Glenfeshie Estate. They wanted to climb a ‘Munro’ which is a summit in Scotland over 3000ft, Donnie suggested Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir, meaning ‘Summit of the stone on the plain’ in Scottish Gaelic.

Below is a passage about the day written in Donnie’s own words-

‘We left the truck below the black grouse lek on Coire Coul and started walking, letting them see the old corn drying kiln and the army kennels which were a few hundred metre southwest of this point – giving them some history of the people that worked these places. We carried on up the track seeing some songbirds, siskins, chaffinch, long tailed tits and a dunnock. I also pointed out some pine marten scat, they were very interested in the nature. We made the top in good time passing Coire Gharblach which they were in awe of. They then had their piece in a sheltered spot not far from the cairn. They enjoyed taking in the panoramic views from the top.

We then we headed down the Druim nam Bo ridge passing Loch nam Bo and then making our way down the Duke of Leeds path. They were very interested in our rewilding vision and perhaps one day they might do something similar. Our walk took us on down through the old pony path into the granny pines above the Ruigh Aiteachain bothy, which they had a quick look at as we passed on our way back to the truck.

I hope they enjoyed their time going from the valley floor to the plateau at the top and back down again, covering 8.8 miles in total seeing along the way native woodland, heathland and montane habitats’.

One of the guests who accompanied Donnie has written the below paragraph explaining his experience of the day –

‘Our 4×4 awaited outside the cottage, at the allotted hour. Our first challenge to cross the River Feshie in the 4×4…a hugely exciting start for our boys Tommy & Oli, we just made it through!

Our walk started at the base of Meall nan Sleac and Donnie shared how this valley was once known as the ‘Valley of 100 Smokes’, a community of crofters who lived and worked the land. As we climbed up to the path to the summit, Donnie provided us with his fantastic knowledge of the local flora, fauna, birds and other wildlife. We lunched on the mountain top and Donnie talked to us about the Wildland project, its ambition, opportunities and challenges. We really got the sense that Donnie and his colleagues are conservation pioneers…realising that they may make some mistakes (as all pioneers do) along the journey, from which they would learn, regroup and adapt.We came down via the old pony treks cut into the side of the hill, and as the weather changed, as only it can in Scotland, we walked through fields of heather in glorious sunshine, foraging for juniper berries to compliment our Glenfeshie venison dinner.

Thank you, Donnie and Team Wildland, for providing us with a wonderful day of adventure, laughter and storytelling, and showing us the importance of restoring nature, which in turn, can restore us’.

At Wildland we offer experiences like this to all of our guests. We find it a privilege to be immersed in the wilds of the Cairngorms and we are so lucky to have colleagues such as Donnie, a working stalker and wildlife manager to guide and share their invaluable, historic knowledge of the area and our work along the way.