Ferm Toun open to visitors

THIS Sunday (September 23), the restored cruck framed cottage and the Queen Mother’s former picnic cottage at Auchtavan will be open to visitors for the final time this year.

The horsemill is always open and houses an interpretation board but from 12 to 3 pm on Sunday visitors will also be able to see inside the “hingin lum” cottage and the Victorian picnic cottage.

The old ferm toun of Auchtavan is situated in Glen Fearder at Crathie.

Abandoned at the end of the 19th century, Glen Fearder would once have teamed with people with 3 bustling townships. Now all that remains of Ratlich and Loine are piles of stones but at Auchtavan, one cottage and the horsemill were restored in 2008 by Braemar Community Ltd

The settlement gives a glimpse of how these communities would have once lived. Inside the cottage, you can see the cobbled area where the animals slept, the cruck frames (tree trunks cut to support the heather thatch) and the hingin lum. This suspended wooden 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.

Walkers can visit the old settlement at any time but on Sunday you will be able to see inside the hinging lum cottage and the Queen Mother’s cottages as well as the horsemill.

Auchtavan is situated about 6 miles north-east of Braemar. Cars can be parked in the lay-by opposite the turn-off, marked Aberarder, on the A93. It is then a 2.5 mile uphill walk to the settlement. The track passes through birch woods and open moorland and can be quite rough, walking shoes and outdoor clothing are recommended.

If you are unable to make it to Auchtavan on Sunday you can still get a flavour of life there by visiting Aboyne Academy’s free “Lost” exhibition at Braemar Castle. Pupils spent a year researching the settlement and have produced videos, display panels and a talking porridge pot to tell Auchtavan’s story.