Restored Crathie cottage opens

The restored cottage and also the Queen Mother’s former picnic cottage at Auchtavan will be open to visitors from 12 to 3 pm this Sunday (August 26).

The old ‘ferm toun’ of Auchtavan is situated in Glen Fearder at Crathie. Once, most Scots lived in communities like Auchtavan, scraping a living in remote and difficult conditions. In the 19th century, Glen Fearder would have been teeming with life, with three bustling townships. Now all that remains of Ratlich and Loine are heaps 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 it was finally abandoned by the last occupants, the McHardys at the beginning of the 20th century.

Walkers can visit the old settlement at any time but on Sunday 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 six 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.

Anyone unable to make it to Auchtavan on Sunday 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.​