Eleven Club members and one dog attended
this Cairngorm Club Day Meet on a glorious spring-like day in
early March 2011. Billed as a “Service Bus Meet” (you can tell
we are a canny Aberdonian outfit!) around half of those
attending travelled by public bus whilst the rest used private
cars to get to the rendezvous point at Birse Bridge in Aboyne.
The plan today was to make for St Colm’s
Well, high up on The Firmounth.
Crossing the park in Aboyne
Shortly after crossing Birse Bridge a
Scottish Rights of Way Society sign sets you on the right course
for Tarfside by The Fungle …and this was the path we took.
It was glorious in the forest despite the
early frost. Birds were singing in the trees and some very
welcome warm sunlight occasionally broke the canopy as we
climbed up the track towards The Guard.
We stopped for some tea at “The Seat” one
of Sir William Cuncliffe Brook’s many additions to the estate.
This large stone seat is a “Rest and be Thankful” – take a trip
up and visit it yourself (circa 45mins from Aboyne)
Leaving “The Seat”
After passing “The Guard” (a well built
stone house) we pushed on through the forest before stopping for
another cuppa at a rather grand (but locked bothy) high on the
moor before the drop down to Birse.
Tea at the locked bothy
It was wonderful stretching out in the
sunshine by the bothy…but we could smell fire…and see smoke.
As we traversed the Hill of Duchery all
became apparent. The estate was doing some “Muir Burn”. Muir
Burn is carried out on grouse shooting estates to give the
various heather habitats required by the grouse. The new growth
becomes an important food source.
Our Secretary left us near the top of the
Hill of Duchery and nine carried on across a 1km pathless and
rather boggy stretch which took us onto The Firmounth. Here we
met a group of Mountain Bikers who we’d met earlier.
The Firmounth drops (quite wet and boggy in
places) before gently climbing to a long col between Gannoch and
The Hill of St Colm and it is here, near the high point of the
path that you will find St Colm’s Well.
On the Firmounth
St Colm’s Well
The well is marked by a pink granite
boulder inscribed with the words “Well Beloved” and has a cross
in its centre. The well marks the boundary of the parish of
Birse to the south and Glen Tanner to the north and the
inscribed stone is again an example of one of many beautifully
inscribed stones to be found on the Glen Tanner Estate – many of
which are poetic and some enigmatic in sentiment and all by the
stonemasons belonging to Sir William Cunliffe Brooks the laird
of Glen Tanner until 1900.
Happy Hillwalkers at St Colm’s Well
Trip time from Aboyne to St Colm’s Well
today was 4 hours and 15 mins. It was a glorious spot to sit,
have more tea, and relax. One pilgrim passed on route to
Tarfside before two more arrived from the opposite direction.
Shortly after one Sue appeared with cycle helmet in hand and
joined us in the spring sunshine.
The well itself is a short distance from
the stone. Its waters are cool and clear. So who was St Colm?
Try a ‘google’ search. No computers back in his day though. A
follower of St Ninnian – St Colm was a 5th Century missionary
who brought Christianity to Deeside.
The small church at Birse was possibly
founded by St Colm.
After tea, water (and the odd dram or two!)
it was time to head back to Aboyne as we had a bus to catch. We
found time however to ascend Gannoch – a hill of some 731mtrs.
A short detour to Gannoch
The views on top were terrific (Mount
Heading back on The Firmounth
It was a big sky day
Braid Cairn from the Hill of Duchery
Looking down to Birse
Carnferg and the locked bothy
On The Fungle for Aboyne
Happy hillwalkers at Birse Bridge
“I’m messy but I’m happy… though I may not
After eight and half hours of walking we
were back in Aboyne. And there was even time for a quick drink
at “The Boat” – we sat outside though it was toasty warm inside.
Those who had travelled by car departed after giving their
farewells and all agreed it had been rather a splendid day.
The day for many began and ended on one of
Bus at Aboyne
And there was also one of these:
An Aboyne sunset
(Here is a video clip made of the day by
– enjoy. (This will take you to another website))