Ballogie Estate on Royal Deeside is the birthplace of the one of the 19th Century’s greatest athletes, Donald Dinnie, who was born at Balnacraig. His sporting career began at the age of 16 and spanned over 50 years, competing successfully in over 11,000 competitions.
On a market day at Potarch Green sometime in the 1860’s, he entertained the crowds with an amazing show of strength by carrying two boulders, with a combined weight of 332.49kg, a distance of 4.6 metres across Potarch Bridge. Having previously been used in the World’s Strongest Man competition, the ‘Dinnie Stones’ are now on display at a dedicated site in the garden of the Potarch Café and Restaurant.
And in recent times there have been even more lifting attempts taking place at Potarch, with a strongman coming all the way from Australia to attempt to lift the ‘Dinnie Stones’. Pete Sneddon’s brilliant attempt was successful and he was quoted as saying:” I have known about the stones for a number of years. I was really keen to come back in my holidays and have a good go at these stones today”.
The estate is now planning an annual lift-and-carry day in August on the Sunday after the Aboyne Highland Games, which will be for any Strongman wishing to emulate Donald Dinnie’s famous show of strength.
The estate attracts many different types of visitors – not just strongmen. The Peterhead Scout group camp at Ballogie every summer, the local orienteering club MAROC regularly use the woods for their competition days, and the local Scottish Fire & Rescue Service use the hut at Potarch as a base during their river rescue training sessions.
In June the annual ‘Kilt Walk’ Aberdeen complete their 26 mile charity event on Potarch Green, and The Brookes Charity hold their annual combined fund-raising ride at Finzean and Ballogie. The Sheepdog Trials at Carlogie are held at the end June/beginning July, and there are also The Gun Dog trials at Forest of Birse in September. This year the estate will also be providing the facilities at Ballogie House in May for Save the Children to host a Musical Charity Event. Next month the Deeside Runners have also organised ‘Potarch Night Race’ through Potarch Woods.
Recently, a group of Polish Girl Guides and their leader Christophe Orchowski travelled over to stay at Balnacraig House, where they enjoyed wild camping, camp fires, and building their own bivouac shelters in the woods.
Malcolm Nicol, co-owner of Ballogie Estate said: “I’m delighted that we now have the ‘Dinnie Stones’ on display for all to see. Potarch diners have been surprised to have a strongman show as entertainment during their meal! I am proud that we are a destination of choice for so many groups to camp, compete and train.”