This is the time of year for a short break in one of Scotland's 'fall country' areas. The name the tourist agency gives this behaviour is an 'autumn gold mini break' - and while this might be a piece of boak-inducing marketing speak, it is a fairly accurate description of the sort of thing that people, like me, like to do. Ever since reading Louis Stott's excellent book The Waterfalls of Scotland I've been alive to the possibilities that this time of year provides. Trees and waterfalls never look better than in autumn, so when the weather is good, why not pop off to Perthshire, Speyside, Deeside, Glen Affric or the Trossachs?
Downstream of the falls:
The Falls of Feugh were new to me, but recommended by a friend as part of a larger day. There is a small car park and toilet at Bridge of Feugh on the outskirts of Banchory, and although fairly quiet when we visited, it is obviously a popular tourist spot. Many waterfalls popular with the Victorians are neglected these days, but not the Falls of Feugh. Being accessible by a 50 yard walk from the car just 18 miles from Aberdeen is probably one of the main reasons for this. No Eas Coul Aulin style long walk in at the Falls of Feugh.
Falls of Feugh:
The attractive fall runs directly under a footbridge, providing grandstand views with a minimum of effort. We were keen to see salmon leaping but, either because we were just a few weeks too late in the season, or because of the volume of water in the fall, we saw just one or two poor fish, attempting to slide up the torrent to no avail. A heron flew away on our approach and settled at the top of the falls, but even it would struggle to land the dark, yard-long shape we glimpsed thrashing about in the white water.
Visiting the falls is not enough on a fine day, and we walked on further for Scolty Hill. This modest height, surrounded by forest with an extensive heather muir on top, has a tower on top that can be climbed. It provides views across lower Deeside, to Morven, Clachnaben and its tor, down to Banchory in its woods, and away to Lochnagar, streaked with snow, tantalisingly inacessible given the day's schedule.
Banchory from Scolty Hill:
I had always thought the scenery in Deeside did not officially start until Loch Kinord and Morven, another 20 miles upstream. I was wrong.
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