A fine day today, so I took a walk in the footsteps of one of Tomintoul and Glenlivet's great whisky smugglers of old! Before whisky distilling became legal at the Glenlivet distillery, elicit stills were rife in these hills. By the early 19th century, it is believed upwards of 500 were in operation - catering for nearly half of all the whisky consumed!
Aptly, the walk itself begins at the distillery car park, and shares the Speyside Way for much of its route as it rises through Blairfindy Moor on its way to Carn Daimh (569m).
One of the first highlights is Josie's Well, the source of pure water essential in the making of whisky. A little further on, and we come to Upper Drumin, the site of the original Glenlivet distillery before it moved to its present site in 1859.
The it's up and over the moor, offering a good chance of spotting Merlins, Ravens, Red Grouse and Wheatears, not to mention Roe Deer, Red Deer - and if you are really lucky, maybe even a Golden Eagle. The summit of Carn Daimh affords wonderful views of the surrounding hills, including the mighty Ben Rinnes to the north east.
The descent takes you through the edge of Clash Wood and eventually to Blairfindy Castle on the outskirts of Glenlivet. The Castle dates from the early 16th century - but is in a poor state of repair and therefore currently closed to access. However, thanks to the securing of a significant Heritage Lottery Fund Grant, the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust, in conjunction with the Carirngorm Landscape Partnership, are planning a major restoration of the castle. On completion, the castle will (metaphorically speaking) be lowering its drawbridge to the public once again!
The walk takes about four hours in total. Stong footwear is recommended, as some of the route can be boggy.
More details of the walk are available from Spindrift, or from the Glenlivet Crown Estate Scotland Web Site or from their office and information centre in Tomintoul.