Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beer and Grouse at Loch Callater

On what was probably the wettest and windiest day of our recently holiday, we walked up to Loch Callater to the sound of gunfire in the distance. It wasn’t hard to guess what was going on and there in the vicinity of Callater Lodge was parked around £250,000 worth of Land Rover Discos and Range Rovers (admittedly you don’t need many to reach that figure). Grouse shooting was taking place on the lower slopes just south of the Lodge and wasn’t going to interfere with our plans – a simple walk to the head of Loch Callater.

This we did, stopping several times to watch ‘beaters’ drive the birds into the guns. My, what fine shots they must be giving the birds such a sporting chance. Tracked vehicles roamed the bulldozed roads and over the hillsides ferrying the shooters around. You couldn't exactly say it was a peaceful scene.

The weather wasn’t improving but even so, in the absence of all the guns about we might have gone higher just for the tussle with the elements. But no, after staring into the gloom at the head of the loch, we headed back.

Loch Callater (2)
A wet, but happy Lynne
Gloom towards Jock's Road
Not too bad really. If only there hadn't been guns about...
Something was going on at Callater Lodge when we arrived. Cans of beer, in large quantities, were being unloaded from a Disco and taken into the Lodge. McEwan’s export mainly. Might be enough for the shooters on the hill I thought but, judging by the tales, not nearly enough for that other ‘Braemar Gathering’ which takes place here every May! All being well, we should be passing this way ourselves in 2012, just a few days or so ahead of the Challenge. No beer for us at the Lodge though!

Callater Lodge

We paid a visit to The Stables Bothy which is maintained by the MBA, and noted some entries by Challengers who’d passed this way in 2011. One name I recognised, John Joycs, a regular who usually camped here on the crossing, had spent the night in the bothy (‘just too wild to camp’ I think were his words) and found it comfortable. It certainly looked it and although I’m not a bothy fan myself, in last May's weather it would have been a welcome haven for any backpacker.

The ‘beaters’ were now making their way back towards the Lodge driving yet more beleaguered grouse into the waiting guns.  Sheep, looking uneasy, gathered by the Callater Burn.


  1. Looks like Bill wasn't at home - no smoke from the kitchen chimney. Lochcallater Lodge is all part of the royal estate these days and so they could have been royal toffs out there shooting the birds. Hasn't Charlie Boy just taken over at the helm of the WWF?
    I suppose it's marginally better than hunting tigers like his father used to ... or is it?

  2. I think it could well have been royalty for two reasons. As we walked back down the track, yet another Disco was coming towards the Lodge and the two young women acknowledged us for moving aside and we waved back. I thought I recognised the passenger but couldn't place her.

    Anyway just before the carpark, a Range Rover was sitting, engine running, with 3 men in it and they looked for all the world like royal protection and I said so to Lynne. I did think that maybe I'd watched too many episodes of 'Spooks' though! I now think it might have been one of the Middletons who passed us on her way to the Lodge, although my brain may just be filling in the blanks!

    Better than shooting Tigers? Probably, but I'd rather they didn't. One of the Range Rovers had a 'Save Our Red Squirrels' sticker on it!

  3. Gibson, as the picture of Lynne proves beyond any doubt, you're a man who knows how to show a girl a good time.

    Canned beer, though? You'd have thought they could run to the price of some decent bottled ales. This is as good an opportunity as any to give a plug to Badger's Fursty Ferret.

  4. is there an equivalent organisation to the hunt sabs for this bloody carnage? If there isn't there should be.

    sugar in the disco tank next time, please.

  5. Byeways - I just have the knack and there's no point in being modest about it Dave! We both love Badger's Fursty Ferret and their other bottled ales, but only Morrisons stock it in our locality - 25 miles away.

  6. Anonymous - Your last comment may be tongue-in-cheek, I can't tell!)but, for the sake of clarity on this blog, I can say for sure that I WON'T be damaging anyone's property, Discos or otherwise, just because I don't agree with what their owners do.

    Although I'd be happy to do without them, we climbers and walkers use bridges built and maintained by the estates, use open bothies, and use paths made by stalkers etc (I loath the bulldozed roads they make.) I don't agree with their client's (legal)'sporting' activities, but it ends there for me.

    Btw, I like Discos!

  7. BTW, I like discos!
    I presume that will be when you get back into the fleshpots of Braemar.

    I wonder if the lady waving was Mrs Tindle getting in some shooting practice! Ha.
    Looks a soggy day but pleasant views up to a point.

  8. I'm well beyond enjoying that sort of disco Alan, if I ever did!

    Could well have been her - I'm certain it was someone of that ilk.

    It was a soggy day, but I always feel it's better to be out in bad weather than sitting inside watching it! There's always something interesting to see and life's too short to wait for sunshine up here!

  9. prefer big V8 defenders myself, its just a pity I cant afford to run them any more :)

    I used to hate going out in the rain, but now find it quite agreeable. There's quite a good chance for very good photographic light diffusing through any gaps in the rain clouds.


  10. David - ah but I'm not a photographer like you - I usually just get rain on the lens for my trouble!