The Raiders: Clatteringshaws to Craigencallie

10.67 miles 5h 5mins ascent 243m

In the footsteps of Crockett’s Raiders, from the Raiders Road to Craigencallie, Spring’s sunshine practising for Summer, the heather and bracken a little tardy, and the dogs keen for an outing.

A cuckoo Carpets of wood anemone  Half way stone  Unmarked road Kerplunk in pool Darnaw monument Craigencallie  No seats. scent of mint. why a dam?

As we walked along the Queen’s Way, and crossed the Dee, a distant rumble grew to a roar as a motorcycle gang club passed by. But one bike slowed then waited for us to catch up. The rider pointed at Mabel and said he hadn’t seen a miniature dachshund since leaving England. It seemed a strange encounter until a mini-dach popped his head up.

Our walk was to follow the route that Crockett’s Raiders as they made their way from the old bridge, past Craignell and along to Craigencallie. Patrick Heron had taken the moors over Darnaw, whereas we climbed up to the the forestry track on its flank. It’s an old forestry track but has been resurfaced. The quarry on Low Craignell, and that below Darrou were active, the noise of machinery heard from the former and moving equipment at the latter. Presumably they are providing rock for the road on Cairnsmore of Dee we had seen a fortnight earlier.

We had to stand aside a few times as lorries rolled past. One driver shouted from his window but the vehicle’s engine was loud and I didn’t catch what he said, only the metre. Audrey hadn’t heard either and I just had time to say “I couldn’t make out what he said” when my brain suddenly delivered the goods and i realised it had been “there’s another one coming”.

A weird phenomenon. Presumably at an early stage in processing the auditory input I recognised it as not immediately decodable, reacted on that assumption by saying I didn’t understand and a moment later ‘understood’ as I became aware of the decoded message. Something to do with auditory processing and Echoic Memory?

So we stayed off the road until the second lorry passed.

I thought I could see the monument on Darnaw, but couldn’t be sure. You never know it might have just been a lone tree. I remembered the monument as towering above me, at least twice my height, but looking back at old photos I find it was about my height. The track certainly looked different back then.

We crossed Darnaw Burn, Christy nipping down for a quick dunking, and watched the southern hills of the Rinns of Kells coming into view. We had good views of Meikle Millyea from the track. I’m tempted to walk those again if we get a chance.

Our plan was to walk to Craigencallie, then head back along the wee road beside the loch. Approaching Craigencallie we caught a glimpse of Loch Dee, with Merrick just visible behind the Dungeon Hills. There had been a lot of felling since I was last here.

Close to Craigencallie we could hear a cuckoo calling and eagle eyed Audrey spotted it atop a fir tree. That’s the first cuckoo I’ve actually seen.

There were plenty of wildflowers about. Even the odd stand of bluebells despite the trees being felled. My eyes were caught though by carpets of white flowers that I took to be grass of Parnassus (I was wrong). I had only ever seen very small stands of its white flowers and was impressed by how extensive these were. But these were wood anemones. Audrey corrected me and I initially dismissed the identification with the comment “No, wood anemones are nodding flowers.” Well this is the first time I have seen them in such abundance, fully opened and facing towards the sky.

As is often the way on our walks, once the time came for lunch we found ourselves in the wild with no tree trunks, stumps, fallen logs or boulders for seats. We don’t even dream of finding a picnic bench, except after we have had our lunch among damp grasses. So we walked on a little longer than we might have liked until an erratic amid the bog myrtle offered us a place to sit.

After lunch we walked on, noticing a new road between us and the river. Its initial section is on the map but it looks to have been extended towards Craigencallie. We hadn’t seen an entry to it near Craigencallie so presumably it is a dead-end.

We were looking out for the Half Way Stone marked on the OS map. The road is closest to it when passing under the electricity wires. There is new forest about there so had it been a small erratic we would have missed it. The ground thereabouts didn’t really invite exploration except by those with a masochistic streak. But there it was, a rock the size of a small house, visible above the trees.

But half way between where and where? Googling failed to provide an answer so I got out the map and a pair of dividers. The stone is marked on the 1852 OS map and at that time is stood beside the footpath. That path is long gone now and not even visible on aerial photos. My best guess is that it is about halfway between the farms of Craignell and Craigencallie, close enough anyway to warrant the name.

The road brought us by Craignell Farm, and down to the dam itself, passing one of the national cycle route Millennium Mileposts.

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