John Duff’s Walk

The modern walk of longest duration in The Cairngorms region was John Duff’s seven-day circumambulation of the boundaries of the Parish of Braemar, an area of 300 square miles, with 20 Munros.

With a hint of a smile John told me that he undertook the trip because an old keeper,
Donald McDonald of Invercauld – known as Donald Bynack because his father was the keeper at Bynack Lodge would tease him for his lack of detailed knowledge of the moors.

The walk was made widdershins – anti-clockwise – setting out from Crathieon a leaden Sunday afternoon’. He wrote a memoir for the Braemar Gathering book of 1970, upon which I based this word-map.

the parish walk

on day one I forced a line   through the juniper of Creag a Chlamhain   by the shining granite of Invergelder   to lonely Blairglass   monotonous Sleach   slept at Loch Builg   crossed between   the tors of Ben Avon   by the Sneck   to Cnap a’ Chleirich   skirting Coire nan Clach and the Yellow Moss   crossing two Beinn a’ Chaorruinns   slept at the Hutchinson Shelter   had blaeberries before   the storms of Stob Coire Etchachan   on by Beinn Mheadhoin and Càrn Etchachan   to Lochan Buidhe and Cairn Lochan   the protection of Lairig Ghru   slept at The Sinclair Hut   headed up Sròn na Lairig   to the Wells of Dee   above the snow-beds of Garbh Choire   Loch nan Stuirteag by noon   up and down Monadh Mor   up and down Cnapan Mor   slept beneath Cairn Ealar   a detour before An Sgarsoch   to an old watchers bothy   between Càrn Bhac and Càrn a’ Bhutha   clumping through the hags to Beinn Iutharn Mor   which I slept beneath   compass in hand on Beinn Iutharn Bheag   for there’s the worry of a burn   flowing the wrong way   put right by Craig Easgaidh   sopping to The Cairnwell   apricots by the Top Station   slept in a caravan   by a roaring stove at the Devil’s Elbow   better weather for Meall Odhar and Glas Maol   then over The Monega   to Jock’s Road and the Tolmount   had a bite by Fafernie   cloud on Lochnagar   Conachcraig’s three summits   hiding in heather by Allt-na-Giubhsaich   from a convoy of royal landrovers   slept beneath Meall Gorm   on the seventh day Glen Girnock   led me down to Crathie for three o’clock

after John Duff
Thanks to John for his helpful advice on place-names and local history.

John Duff: ‘Around Braemar’, in The Scottish Annual Braemar Gathering Book, 1970

John Duff, Dee Bridge at Balmoral, August 1966
John Duff, Ballater, 1969

Gathering was commissioned by Hauser & Wirth, for the Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar; the project was launched in 2015 and will conclude in 2018.

The artist residency at University of Aberdeen is funded by The Leverhulme Trust; the project was launched in July 2016 and will conclude May 2017.