View from Ben VrackieImbewu Scotland Wilderness Trail – Glenkindie Diary
Earlier this year on 2nd June, 12 young people (5 girls and 7 boys) from secondary schools across Aberdeenshire (Aboyne Academy, Kemnay Academy, Mearns Academy, Meldrum Academy and The Gordon Schools) arrived at Glenkindie Estate situated in the secluded beauty of Donside.  They were at the start of a week-long residential Imbewu Scotland Wilderness Trail during which they would be immersed in nature; take part in Leave No Trace Awareness Training and achieve a John Muir Discovery Award.  Four Challenges are at the heart of the John Muir Award; to achieve an Award each participant must Discover a wild place; Explore its wildness; take personal responsibility by doing something to Conserve a wild place and Share experiences.
Glenkindie Estate is a shooting estate (Red Deer, Pheasant, Red Grouse) straddling the eastern boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. The Estate extends to some 7,300 acres, comprising open moorland, tenanted upland farms (sheep, cattle), forestry, holiday let and employee cottages and fishing in the River Don. The Estate is centred on Glenkindie House; a Category A listed building dating from the 18th century.
Day 1
The boys settled into the Shoot Room, while the girls took up residence at Dalgrassick Cottage.  The group were given an introduction to the Estate by factor, James Herbertson which included a trip down into an Iron Age souterrain for the more agile.  The souterrain, from the French sous terrain meaning ‘underground’, is a double-chambered earth-house thought to have been built to provide winter storage for barrels of butter, cheese and other foodstuffs.  Shouts of “Amazing!” and “Cool!” were heard echoing up from the tunnel entrance.  Head gardener, John Dent then gave the group a tour of the beautifully kept 17th and 18th century walled gardens which include some interesting topiary characters from Alice in Wonderland.
Day 2
The group packed up and set out on the first day of the Wilderness Trail accompanied by professional guides from Wilderness Scotland, their challenge, to Discover and Explore a wild place.  They hiked high up into the hills, making camp in a secluded glen surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Cairngorms.  Once the tents were up and everyone had had a well deserved brew, there was an opportunity for some solo time and a chance to enjoy their new surroundings by themselves.  After a bite to eat, the group spent the rest of the evening in the tipi, crowded around the camp fire, where they were introduced to the Principles of Leave No Trace.  Leave No Trace teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and is about making good decisions to protect the world around us. Thomas provided the musical interlude, entertaining us with a few tunes on his harmonica.
Day 3
The expedition set out on a day walk to Explore the wildness of the area and to see first hand the nature and scenery of wild Scotland.  The walk took us, sometimes over rough terrain, to Kildrummy Wind Farm where the group had an interesting discussion about energy use and renewables.  Ring Ouzel, Lapwing, Oyster Catchers and Buzzard were all spotted and the group had to take care not to disturb the nests of ground nesting Red Grouse and their chicks.  The best part of the day was jumping in and out of the peat hags in the wind and rain!  The evening was spent listening to the guides’ stories of outdoor adventure while we dried our boots around the camp fire.
Day 4
We broke camp after completing a final sweep of the area to ensure that we had left no trace.  Solo time gave everyone a chance to reflect on how their special place had changed over the short time we’d been there.  The return to base camp was a tuneful affair with the boys leading the singing before everyone headed for a much needed shower.
Day 5
Thursday was the Conserve Challenge of the John Muir Award.  Working with John, Robbie the gamekeeper, Derek and Alex, the group split into 2 teams.  Everyone worked hard in the very un-Scotland like hot weather.  By 4pm a new footpath had been created and 2 new bridges built and installed (a new footbridge on a Right of Way, once a drove road, and a quad bike bridge).  That evening Robbie, John and wife Liz fired up the BBQ and treated the group to a Highland feast fit for a laird, which included venison from the estate.
Day 6
The day was spent preparing for the Share challenge of the John Muir Award, a task made all the more easier by being spent in the sunshine in the gardens of Dalgrassick.
Day 7
At the grand front entrance to Glenkindie House, flanked by bushes trimmed to look like highland characters, the group Shared their experiences of the week with the assembled estate staff and their families.  None of us really wanted to leave this very special place.
Photos from  recent Imbewu Scotland trails at Glenkindie, Atholl, Glen Tanar and Douglas Estates
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“A very good week was had by all at Glenkindie, everyone got something from the time spent on the estate; hopefully they will take good memories away from the Glen.” (John Dent, Glenkindie Head Gardener)
“It took my breath away.”  (Imbewu Scotland 2014)
“It makes you realise just how fabulous the outdoors really is.”  (Imbewu Scotland 2014)
“It stimulates your brain and makes you think…also your physical stamina…I never would have believed I could have achieved what I did.”  (Imbewu Scotland 2014)
For more information on Imbewu Scotland please contact us on or call 0300 123 3073