‘Ferm toun’ invite to public

The cottages at Auchtavan are open on Sunday for the first time this year.
The cottages at Auchtavan are open on Sunday for the first time this year.

The three buildings at the abandoned ‘ferm toun’ of Auchtavan, near Crathie, will be open to visitors this weekend for the first time this year.

Entry is free and the public will be able to see inside the ”hingin lum” cottage and the Queen Mother’s former picnic cottage, as well as the interior of the horse mill.

Restored by Braemar Community Ltd in 2008, the cottages are open on four days each year although the settlement can by visited by walkers at any time and the horse mill is permanently open.

Inside the hingin lum cottage, visitors can see the cobbled area where the animals slept, the cruck frames - tree trunks cut to support the heather thatch - as well as the wooden chimney. The suspended chimney was a sophisticated advance on the central fire and hole in the roof of old black-houses.

People would have farmed at Auchtavan for at least 250 years before the last occupants, the McHardys, finally left.

The cottages will be open between noon and 3pm on Sunday and visitors will appreciate how harsh conditions were for the families who eked out a living in this 19th century farming community.

The two-and-a-half mile walk gives spectacular views across Glen Fearder to Lochnagar. Auchtavan is about six miles North-east of Braemar.

Cars can be parked in the lay-by opposite the turn-off, marked Aberarder. It is then an uphill walk to the settlement.

The track passes through birch woods and open moorland and walking shoes and outdoor clothing are recommended.