Cottaging on Dava Moor

I have a dream. To live in an old cottage far away from civilisation. And every now and then I travel over Dava Moor (between Nairn and Grantown on Spey) and I can see the remains of what must have been a well populated area in days gone by. Old and derelict cottages, tracks and bridges can be seen in amongst the heather and peat of the moor.

A holiday in Carrbridge presented itself as a great opportunity to take a closer look. An early start meant I caught the sun rising over the moor and some of the abandoned buildings.

My route around the cottages at Easter Crannich, Wester Crannich, Anaboard and Rychorrach totalled about 7km and the warm air and lack of breeze were really noticeable, even at 5am. A breakfast of wild raspberries was pretty tasty and more refreshing than the nutrigrain bars I’d packed.

Anaboard Cottage – The fireplace gives an idea of when the lintel was put in.

Wester Crannich Cottage – The most ruined of the four buildings with no roof or internal fittings but lovely stonework.

The last two cottages were the most interesting. Quite snazzy if you like your history.

Easter Crannich Cottage – Very steep steps and horrendous contemporary wallpaper downstairs. But upstairs I found a wall plastered in old newspaper, the newspaper in question being The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. Not one you’ll see in the stands today as the last day of publication was in 1970. And it reported on just what the title suggests, sports and theatre.

I’m assuming the newspaper was used as an insulator, as I imagine winters in Dava would be pretty chilly. The date on the paper was pretty interesting, Saturday 25th March 1905. 1905!!!!….

Rychorrach Cottage – A beautiful setting higher up with views for miles, including the Cairngorms. The occupants of this house had followed the lead of the Easter Crannich residents and put extra insulation on the wall, but had taken the idea a step further, thicker cardboard boxes this time instead of newsprint.

They were tacked to the walls incredibly neatly and looked almost artistic as the collage of brands wouldn’t look out of place in a gallery. Corn Flakes, Vim and Scott’s Oats, which are still going strong today. Others I’d never heard of such as Smedley’s carrots and Oxydol washing powder.

The most interesting box was one labelled dried eggs and “For European Recovery” and was part of the post-WW2 Marshall Plan to revitalise Western Europe. A fascinating discovery and quite something to see the item in real life and how it was used after.

I found a calendar at the house from the year 1950. And after a bit of research I think the last occupier was a man called James McDonald. Maybe he was the decorator but I can’t be certain, there isn’t much online about Rychorrach to be sure.

On the one hand what a lucky man to have lived in such a beautiful place, especially in summertime. But what a harsh existence it must have been for James, his family and the previous generations of McDonald’s who farmed there and at other cottages on the moor in winter conditions

Would I live there? Probably. 21st century heating is a wonderful thing.

Angus Church – January 2015

This church has been on my “to do” list for a while now.  It’s columns make it look extremely grand and Athenian from the front, although less impressive at the back where it’s falling (or being knocked) down. Inside the main chamber it remains obviously a church with the pews and the altar.  I love the second level where you can look down from height or see it from below as it stretches from one side of the room to the other.  The only flock gathering here now are the many pigeons that have made it home and turned it into a giant communal pigeon toilet….

A wee explore around the old Broadford Works (Richards Factory), Aberdeen.

My last Aberdeen explore before going to pastures new. It’s a site I’ve wanted to look round since moving to the Granite City and I’ve wandered and driven past it many times.

Built for Scott Brown and Co (of Angus), 1808, bankrupt 1811 and sold to Sir John Maberly MP, entrepreneur, speculator and introducer of jute to the UK. Maberley rapidly developed Broadford Works, adopting the first gas lighting of an industrial complex in Scotland, by Boulton and Watt in 1814-15, and Scotland’s second power loom linen weaving factory in Scotland in 1824. Maberly was himself bankrupt and in 1834 the works passed to Richards and Co, who had a bleachworks at Rubislaw and branches at Montrose, produced canvas tarpaulins and as a particular specialism, fire hoses. Latterly man-made fibres for carpet yarn etc replaced flax. Employment peaked at 3,000, once the largest single employer in Aberdeen. (Historic Scotland).

Since closing in 2004, plans to redevelop the site haven’t got much further than the planning department and it’s only regular visitors since then have been vandals and the fire brigade….. An awesome place and despite only being resident for a short time, I’ll always associate Aberdeen and it’s skyline with the factory towers.

Gartloch Hospital – Monday 7th April 2014

Visited Gartloch Hospital on Monday on the recommendation of a new like-minded chum. It was closed in 1996 after serving patients for 100 years as a hospital/asylum. It is now in the process of being redeveloped into a “luxury village”.

Shortly before its closure, it was used in the BBC television series Takin’ Over the Asylum where its distinctive French Renaissance style architecture served as the exterior of the fictional St. Jude’s Hospital. Although many of the surrounding buildings have been converted into homes, the Category A listed administration building remains derelict.

The Glasgow burns units must be busy, so many ARSonists seem to practice their craft there… The Ballroom was a nice surprise, which you’ll see at the end. Although at nearly 17st, I didn’t fancy too many of the floors.