Glenbuchat Heritage

173  McHardy Stone & Elf House
The Glenbuchat Image Library
173 McHardy Stone & Elf House

McHardy Stone Glenfiddich
The Elf House

The pictures above are of:
1. Map of the area
2. Gill Russell’s map of the walk
3. The McHardy Stone
4. Gill at the Elf House
5. Gill in the Elf House

In Autumn 2014 Ron Brander and Gill Russell were exploring the tracks and pathways around Glenbuchat and the Cabrach as part of a project with Deveron Arts

Exploring the track from Glen Suie to Glenfiddich, near the Elf House cave they found an engraved stone, the McHardy Stone, (marked by triangle on map) at grid ref NJ298 291 on the steep west bank of the headwaters of the Fiddich, on the opposite side of the burn from the track.
(More accurate directions as noted below:
Approximate OS grid ref NJ298 291.
Walking from the Cabrach road along the Fiddich burn towards Glenlivet you pass the Elf Burn tributary on your right.
Continue walking a short distance upstream with the Fiddich below you on your right.
At this point the burn is maybe 2 to 3 meters below you and the gully is quite narrow.
The stone in question is tucked into the far bank.)

Initially they thought it was to mark the site where someone had died, but on closer investigation it became evident that it was the site of a miraculous recovery.

The Stone reads:



Jas McHardy

41 Hrs



Who therefore was James McHardy and what happened to him on the 2nd January 1875.

From the web site ‘The Genealogy of The Cabrach’ the McHardy family history can be found and amongst that an explanation of the events noted on the stone.

The web site has a note on Mr McHardys entry which states:
‘9th Jan 1875 James McHardy, farmer, of Badchier was trapped in a fall of snoe at Glenfiddich which covered him for 50 hours until he managed to free himself.’

It would appear that James Mr McHardy who farmed at Badchier (or Badchear – noted by red circle on the map). Badchier a Gaelic name meaning, according to some authorities, "Hind's thicket". He would have been familiar with the area as his father John McHardy had been the gamekeeper at Blackwater Lodge (marked with red rectangle on map) between1841 and 1851 and farmer at Badchier, Cabrach, between 1861 and 1872. James was about 26 at the time of the incident.

The track James McHardy had been taking was a route between Glenlivet and the Cabrach. Despite his obvious experience of the hills he became caught in a snow storm in January 1875. He then became trapped in the snow for 41 hours, almost 2 days. It may be that his experience of the hills and weather conditions enabled him to make a snow hole and shelter out the storm. His safe return must have been a great cause for rejoicing and this prompted him to return to the site and place the engraved stone to mark the event.
James went on to live until 1921 and died at the age of 72

The McHardy Family history is noted below

The Elf House.

Just north of the McHardy stone is the Elf House.

It is a narrow cave in the rocks which is reputed to go a long way into the hill.

In 1867 Queen Victoria noted the cave in her book ‘My loyal Highlanders’ dedicated to John Brown.

My Loyal Highlanders Especially
To The Memory of My Devoted Personal Attendant
And Faithful Friend John Brown
These Records of My Widowed Life In Scotland
Are Gratefully Dedicated

Victoria R. L

Thursday, September 26. 1867.
Slept very well and was much rested. At half-past twelve I started with Louise on ponies (I on Sultan), and Jane Churchill, the Duke of Richmond, and Sir Thomas walking, rode past the stables on a good road, and then turned to the right and went up Glenfiddich for about four miles. The scenery is not grand, but pretty; an open valley with green and not very high hills, some birches, and a great deal of fern and juniper. After about three miles the glen narrows and is extremely pretty; a narrow steep path overhanging a burn leads to a cave, which the Duke said went a long way under the hill. It is called the Elf House. There is a small space of level ground, and a sort of seat arranged with stones, on which Louise and I sat; and here we all lunched, and then tried to sketch. But I could make nothing of the cave, and therefore scrambled up part of the hill with great trouble, and tried again but equally unsuccessfully, and had to be helped down, as I had been helped up, by Brown. We were here nearly an hour, and then, after walking down the steep path, we got on our ponies and rode up to the left, another very steep and narrow path, for a short while on the brink of a steep high bank with the Fiddich below.

A no lesser person than Gill Russell also visited the cave and managed to get inside it. The photos show Gill at the cave

McHardy Family History

John McHardy

b. 30 October 1803,
d. 10 May 1878
Birth: 30 October 1803 Crathie, ABD
Death: 10 May 1878 Balloch, Cabrach, ABD
Baptised: 30 October 1803 Crathie, ABD
Death informant: 15 May 1878 James McHardy, son
Occupation: Farmer, Badchier
Occupation: Forrester, gamekeeper bet. 1841 and 1851
Occupation: Farmer at Badchier, Cabrach, Abd bet. 1861 and 1872
Residence: 1872 Badchier, Cabrach, BAN
Residence: 1830 Auchlunkart, Boharm, Moray
Residence: bet. 1835 and 1851 Blackwater Lodge, Cabrach
Spouse or Partner
1 : Jane Stuart Not married, b. bet. 1805 and 1831
James McHardy, b. abt. 1849, d. 11 November 1921
Spouse or Partner
2 : Ann Calder m. 03 January 1830 Glenmuick, ABD, b. abt. 1805, d. 07 September 1868
John McHardy, b. 07 December 1830
Margaret McHardy, b. 07 August 1835
Spouse or Partner
3 : Ann Smith m. 23 January 1872 Broomknows, Cabrach,
b. 16 May 1816, d. 18 May 1872

2nd husband of Ann Smith.
Death cert. - son of John McHardy house carpenter & wife Christina Brown.

James McHardy

b. abt. 1849,
d. 11 November 1921
Father: John McHardy, b. 30 October 1803, d. 10 May 1878
Mother: Jane Stuart, b. bet. 1805 and 1831
Birth: abt. 1849 Glass, BAN
Death: 11 November 1921 Ballochtown, Cabrach
Census: 1851 Boarder age 1 at Badchier with Jopp family
Occupation: Farmer at Badchier, Cabrach 1879
Occupation: Farmer 70ac at Balloch, Cabrach bet. 1881 and 1891
Occupation: Farmer at Badchier 1901
Occupation: Farmer at Balloch, Cabrach 1911
Death informant: 11 November 1921 Charles McHardy, son
Residence: 1861 Badchier, Cabrach with father

Spouse or Partner
1 : Elspet Calder m. 25 July 1879 Bridgend, Cabrach, b. 26 August 1857, d. 06 April 1921
1. George McHardy, b. 24 February 1881, d. 13 June 1919
2. John McHardy, b. 22 April 1882
3. Margaret McHardy, b. 09 May 1884
4. James McHardy, b. 19 June 1886
5. Elsie McHardy, b. 21 February 1889, d. 06 October 1975
6. Annie McHardy, b. 26 November 1890
7. Charles McHardy, b. 02 June 1897, d. 25 April 1983
8. Helen McHardy, b. 24 December 1892
9. William McHardy, b. 20 October 1900
10. Jeannie McHardy, b. 16 February 1895

9th Jan 1875 James McHardy, farmer, of Badchier was trapped in a fall of snoe at Glenfiddich which covered him for 50 hours until he managed to free himself.

Upper Cabrach Church & Churchyard
McHardy Gravestones

Erected By John McHardy, Blackwater Lodge
In Memory
Of His Wife Ann Calder
Who Died At Balloch
7th Sep. 1868
Aged 63 Years
Also His Second Wife
Ann Smith Who Died At
Balloch 8th May 1872, Aged 57
And Was Interred At Mortlach.

In Memory Of
James McHardy
Died 11th Nov. 1921 Aged 71.
His Wife Elspeth Calder
Died 6th April 1921 aged 63
Their Son George
Died 13th June 1919 aged 38
Their Daughter Elsie
Died 6th Oct. 1975 Aged 86.

Picture added on 20 October 2014 at 18:34
This picture is in the following groups
This gentleman James McHardy is my grt grandfather. My father who is his grandson, is named after him and his wife Elespeth Calder (my fathers grandmother). Name being James Calder McHardy.. James McHardy who was lost was the son of John McHardy and Jane Stewart of Stuartt. He was an illegitimate child, and brought up at Badchear to be near his father John who was the head keeper at Blackwater Lodge. John McHardy was a first cousin to John Brown. Hence the reason why Queen Victoria might have been familiar with this area. John McHardys parents are buried in the old church cemetory opposite Balmoral entrance. John McHardys mother was a sister to John Browns father.
Hope this story makes some sense.
Added by Pamela Anderson on 08 November 2015
Been to look for this three times and still can't find it. Map location and GPS coordinates differ which doesn't help. How far beyond the Elf house ( from the Cabrach road) is it? and how far from the burn how high above it?

Reply sent. Ed.
Approximate OS grid ref NJ298 291.
Walking from the Cabrach road along the Fiddich burn towards Glenlivet you pass the Elf Burn tributary on your right.
Continue walking a short distance upstream with the Fiddich below you on your right.
At this point the burn is maybe 2 to 3 meters below you and the gully is quite narrow.
The stone in question is tucked into the far bank.
It is a dark grey natural boulder with a flat inscribed face towards you. It is probably 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide, tapering towards the top.....almost like a lopsided pear.
It is fairly well embedded, and partly covered by heather or bracken (the last time I saw it 4-5 years ago).
It is necessary to drop down to water level and then climb up the other side to about the height of the track......perhaps 2-3 feet higher.
I have it in my head that it is pretty much the only visible stone or boulder on that bank around that point.....but that might be faulty memory.
It tells of a moving and sobering survival story, and forces you to contemplate and speculate about the circumstances of the event it commemorates in 1875.
Ron Brander

Added by Peter Bennett on 24 September 2018
Found it Oct 6th 2018. It was very heavily overgrown and barely visible,only found it by chance. Very hard to access as ground is very steep above a large pool. I cleared a lot of vegetation so it's a lot more visible now but bottom line covered in moss which I was unable to scrape off.
Added by Peter Bennett on 06 October 2018
Please add your comments about this picture using the form below.


Your Name

Your email address - this will be shown on the page and will allow the system to notify you of further comments added to this picture.


20 Glenbucket Name Book 1865-18713 Strathdon Slides - Poldhullie Bridge2 Strathdon Slides - Roughpark c 1910232 Men and boy at Garnet Stone Glenbuchat207 Doune of Invernochty strathdon134 Bridge of Buchat110 Broombrae Glenbuchat58 Allargue Hotel and Lecht Road43 Auchernach House and garden Glen Nochty4 Allargue Hotel and the Lecht Road