There was a lot of water in the River Ericht this morning as it raced on beneath Blairgowrie Bridge. In the past, the power of that water was put to good use, driving the wheels for some 11 textile and meal mills.
Today’s walk took me past several of these old mills – some in ruins, others that have been given a new lease of life.
“Cargill’s Leap” – where, pursued by Charles II’s dragoons, the minister Donald Cargill escaped by jumping the river in 1665, was looking particularly fearsome. Salmon fishermen will be well acquainted with the Ericht.
I’m soon climbing high above the river, though, to join part of Caulfield’s old military road between Coupar Angus and Forth George. This old 100 mile long road was begun in 1749 and was one of the last of the great military roads built to help the government maintain watch over the rebellious Jacobites.
My return brings me down by Middle Mause Farm to join the now abandoned old Braemar road about the Ericht. With some bits flooded, other bits collapsing and the iron crash barrier rusting away, it doesn’t take long for things to be reclaimed by nature.
Completing the circuit brings me back over the long footbridge over the Ericht at Keathbank and Oakbank Mills. The bridge’s thin supporting legs, twisted shape and distinct wobble aren’t too reassuring with such a volume of water pounding at its foundations. Still, it’s maybe a bit more appealing than Cargill’s Leap!