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Issue 83 - The Diversity of the Dee

Scotland Magazine Issue 83
October 2015

 

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The Diversity of the Dee

Keith Fergus meanders down this iconic river

The River Dee (with the possible exception of the River Spey) may well travel through the most diverse, iconic and scenic landscape in Britain. It certainly has the highest source of any river in the British Isles, beginning almost 4,000 feet above sea level at the Wells of Dee, which sit on the colossal summit of Braeraich.

The infant Dee drains east from the Cairngorm plateau, travelling for another 87 miles, tumbling down gorgeous waterfalls, through remnants of the great Caledonian Pine Forest, alongside lochs and through historic settlements, like here at Balmoral, to reach the North Sea at Aberdeen.

The Cairngorms have played a significant role in shaping the River Dee, providing a snow reservoir for much of the year, granting an almost continuous source of fresh, clean water.

Here the likes of trout and salmon thrive as well as an extraordinary array of wildlife, including otter, water vole, golden eagle, osprey, dotterel, ptarmigan, pine marten, red deer, red squirrels, and the Scottish crossbill (the only bird unique to Britain).

The River Dee reaches journey’s end at Scotland’s third largest city. Aberdeen is a beautiful place to walk around, its history and stunning architecture is on a par with any other city in Britain and it provides a fitting conclusion to this magnificent river. Both the urban and coastal setting of Aberdeen sit in sharp contrast to the mountainous and rural scenery along much of the River Dee’s length, simply emphasising the incredible diversity of the landscape it runs through.