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Chapter 5. Rivers and Lochs

While the county is well watered, it possesses no great river entirely its own flowing directly into the sea. The Deveron is shared with Aberdeen, the Spey with Inverness and Moray, though the main drainage area of the former is in Banffshire, and from Banffshire comes the largest tributary of the latter.
"I hae a kintra," runs a rhyme attributed to Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon

I hae a kintra caa'd the Cabrach,
The folks dabrach,
The water's Rushter,
An' the corn's trushter.

In its comparative isolation the Cabrach is a little territory by itself, hence the "the" used before the name; it is called never Cabrach but "the" Cabrach. It is in the wild recesses of the Cabrach that the infant Deveron originates, in a land of heath-covered hills, of barren moors, and of far-stretching, rugged deer forests. The climate is unkindly, winter lingers long, so that, while the valleys are devoted to a somewhat precarious course of arable farming, it is a district of cattle- and sheep-rearing rather than of grain-growing. From the Cabrach to Rothiemay the Deveron flows through Aberdeenshire. The stream in its upper stretches runs rapidly along a series of glens and is frequently subject to violent freshets. All the bridges above Huntly were swept off by the historic floods of 1829. At Huntly it is joined by the Bogie.

At the point where the Deveron again touches Banffshire, it receives the waters of the Isla, which issues from beautiful Loch Park, and runs through the parishes of Botriphnie, Keith and Grange. The Deveron now goes eastward by Marnoch, passing finely situated mansion houses, on to Inverkeithney, where the Burn of Forgue enters, coming from storied Frendraught and Glendronach. Still holding east, it nearly reaches Turriff but turns very abruptly northward. At the elbow it is joined by the Water of Turriff. Near the same point it is spanned by a bridge of three arches, of Delgaty freestone. The river flows on past Forglen House, in charming scenery, Mountblairy and Denlugas, to receive the Burn of King Edward. This stream comes from the east along the valley of King Edward. One of its branches begins near the church of Gamrie, within a short distance of the sea, and after a course of nine miles joins the Deveron at a point five miles from its mouth.

The Deveron now passes the ruins of Eden Castle, and, turning westward, enters the picturesque and romantic narrows between the Hill of Alvah and the Hill of Mont-coffer. Here a precipitous chasm is spanned by a bridge erected by the Earl of Fife. The chasm under the bridge is narrowed by the rocks to 27 feet, while the depth of the

water is 50 feet. To the north of the bridge the rocks recede, rising to 100 feet above the water, and are fringed and covered with a rich diversity of shrubs and trees. Soon a fine valley gradually opens out. The river sweeps round its eastern side and encloses the plain on which Duff House stands. Half a mile hence it reaches the sea beneath the "Bonnie Brig' o' Banff." Until i 763 the river was crossed by fords and ferry boats. The first bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1768. The present bridge, designed by Smeaton (of the Eddystone lighthouse), was opened in 1780, and was widened in 1881. It is a beautiful structure of seven arches, and has a free waterway of 142 yards. The length of the Deveron is just short of 62 miles.

The Spey is nearly 50 miles longer than the Deveron and drains an area of over 1200 sq. miles. It rises at a great height above sea-level and receives a huge volume of water from numerous tributaries; and thus in its lower reaches it is the swiftest of Scottish rivers.

The Spey touches Banffshire close to Ballindalloch Station and soon after receives, at Inveraven, its largest and most beautiful tributary—the Aven, locally the A'an. The Aven flows entirely through Banffshire territory, traversing in its course of about 40 miles some of the finest scenery in the county, almost matchless for wild and rugged grandeur. It is a deep and rapid stream, clear as crystal.

The water o' A'an so fair and clear,
Would deceive a man of a hundred year.

It has its source on Ben Macdhui and issues from Loch Aven, already a considerable stream, flows through the entire length of the parish of Kirkmichael and falls into the Spey in the adjoining parish of Inveraven. Near Delnabo it is joined by the Water of Ailnach; and north of"I'omintoul by the Conglass, from the hills overlooking Strathdon. A little further on it receives the water of the Chabet, and in the kindlier region of Glenlivet the Livet, swollen here into a considerable stream by the tributaries of Crombie and Tervie. The former, which drains the Braes of Glenlivet, falls into it at Tombae, and the patter, which drains the

district of Morinsh and the lands bordering on Glenrinnes, at Tombreakachie. The Aven, at its beginning, is about 4000 feet above the sea; at the Builg Burn, where it turns north, 1300 feet. At St Bridget, Tomintoul, it has fallen to 1000, at the Livet to 600, while the haugh at its junction with the Spey is 500 feet above the sea. The greater part of the Aven valley is interspersed with natural-growing birch and alder, which adds much to the grace and beauty of the scenery and makes a tour by the road skirting its banks an ever pleasant memory.

From Inveraven the Spey flows past Aberlour, and on through beautiful scenery to Craigellachie, where it is joined by the Fiddich. The Fiddich rises in Glen Fiddich, the fine valley where the Duke of Richmond and Gordon has his deer forest and hunting lodge. The Dullan descends from Glenrinnes, the valley to the west of Glen Fiddich. The two streams unite at Tininver ("the meeting of the waters") below the church of Mortlach, about five miles from the Spey. Their whole course is about twelve or fourteen miles.

From Craigellachie, the Spey, amid superb scenery, rushes in majestic curves past the gloriously wooded heights of Arndilly. At Ordiequish it leaves Banffshire and dashes through Moray to the sea.

For salmon the Spey stands high; for trout it falls below the Aven, which is in great repute with anglers. The Deveron is famous for both trout and salmon. As far as records go the heaviest Deveron salmon was landed from the Eden water on the last day of the season of 1920. It weighed 56 lbs., and measured 53 inches in length, and 29 inches in girth. In the same section of the river in the spring of 1920 a sea-trout of i6i lbs. was landed, the heaviest Deveron trout recorded.

The lakes in the county are not numerous, but fewness is compensated for by picturesqueness. Loch Park, in Botriphnie, is among the most charming of Highland lochs. Its beauty is familiar to many, since the railway skirts its shores. About a mile long, with a mean breadth of 100 yards, Loch Park occupies the base of a mountain gorge, the wooded sides of which rise to a considerable height. Here is the watershed of the district. The Isla, issuing from the east end of the loch, runs to the Deveron, while streamlets to the west of this glen reach the sea through the channel of the Spey.

Loch Aven, three miles long and one mile broad, is in the southern extremity of the parish of Kirkmichael and lies picturesquely amid wild and magnificent scenery. The towering heights of Ben a Bhuird, Ben Macdhui, Cairngorm and Ben Bainac rise all around it, and their rugged bases skirt its edges, except at the narrow outlet of the Aven. Its water is luminous and of great depth. At its western end is the famous Clachdhian or Shelter Stone, an immense block of granite, forming the broad shoulder of Ben A4acdhui. The stone rests on two other blocks imbedded in a mass of vegetation, and forms a cave sufficient to contain twelve or fifteen men. Here, where the queen of the storm sits, at a distance of a score of miles from all human abode, the summer visitor to the wild and sombre glories of Loch Aven takes up his abode for the night. Between Inchrory and the Cairn is Loch Builg, upwards of a mile long and about half that breadth, at an altitude of 1566 feet. In these mountainous regions are a number of smaller lochs, even the names of which are unfamiliar to most people, for in these wastes of rugged hill and moor they are seldom seen by human eye.

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