Stay safe

There are various restrictions currently in place across Scotland to help prevent spread of COVID-19. Full advice can be found on the Scottish Government official website.

Guidance relating to visiting places on Scotland Off the Beaten Track includes...

staying at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your householdwearing a face covering where mandated, and where social distancing is difficultavoiding crowded spacesmaintaining hand and cough hygiene, and reducing contact with hard or high contact surfacesself-isolating and booking a test if you have COVID-19 symptomsadhering to current rules about maximum group sizes, and the number of households you can meet each day
Many staffed sites are currently closed, have changed their opening times or have a modified visitor offering. Different restrictions apply in other countries, including other parts of the UK, so please follow the official advice where you are.

Please help us all stay safe while exploring Scotland. If your holidays or…

Cairn o' Mount (B974)

Aberdeenshire | Fettercairn | Road pass | ★★★

The narrow road snaking over the southern Cairngorms between Fettercairn and Strachan was once an important military route into the Highlands from the plains to the south. Today it's a vital link for residents of Deeside, and a relatively easy way to experience the wide open landscapes of the hill range for the rest of us. There are two laybys close to the top of the pass: the northern one giving access to a 4,000 year-old cairn marking the true summit, and the southern one providing the best views south across the low-lying Howe of the Mearns. Extra care may be required if making a winter trip: exposure to easterly winds and a top height of over 450 metres above sea level brings the associated ice and snow hazards.

Location & info

📌 Cairn o' Mount (B974) ★★★
Between Fettercairn and Strachan. Summit is at G.R.: NO 650807 ///lemons.panting.fortnight. South end at Fettercairn, G.R.: NO 650735 ///enchanted.cotton.lungs. North end a…

Walk: Squirrels & sculptures on Elrick Hill

Aberdeen City | Blackburn | Short walk | ★★

Elrick Hill is at the midst of a low chain of hills forming a natural barrier between Aberdeen city and shire, with Brimmond Hill close by to the south, and Tyrebagger Hill across the A96 dual carriageway to the north. The area used to be enriched by several modern sculptures, though many have now been removed; the biggest attraction is now red squirrels, which seem to thrive in the woodland surrounding the car parks despite a steady stream of traffic and walkers (visit early or late in the day for the best chance of seeing them). Elrick Hill's summit is partially enclosed by trees, restricting the panorama; fortunately a path traversing the heathery west and south aspects gives much better views.

📌 Walk: Squirrels & sculptures on Elrick Hill ★★
Start / finish at Clinterty Woods east car park, B979 2 mi southeast of Blackburn, G.R.: NJ 851112 ///micro.places.workouts

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 130 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Elrick Hill …


Aberdeenshire | Catterline | Village | ★★

The tiny fishing village of Catterline is reached by narrow lanes branching off from the scenic A92 south of Stonehaven. The swish Creel Inn seafood restaurant sits high above the picturesque bay and intimate harbour, providing the vital life support for this otherwise remote settlement. It's deservedly the main objective for 90% of visitors - including us - but if you have time to linger, continue along the perilously narrow tarmac which descends to the foot of the cliffs at Catterline Bay. The beach is only narrow and of shingle rather than sand; on the plus side, this means you're quite likely to get it more or less to yourself - and there are opportunities for rockpooling around the conglomerate sea stacks and platforms. The spectacular seabird cliffs at Fowlsheugh are a little way north along the coast; it's probably best to drive or cycle, as we're unaware of a coast path.

Location & info

📌 Catterline ★★

Walk: Cairn-mon-earn - slog from the Slug Road

Aberdeenshire | Crathes | Short walk | ★★

The steady slog uphill isn't much to write home about, but Cairn-mon-earn's position above the Slug Pass makes it an excellent vantage point for both the North Sea coastline and lower Deeside. This 378-metre hill's slopes are densely clad in forestry plantations (though some had recently been cut down on our visit), but the trees stop just shy of the cairn and trig pillar, which share the summit with a collection of manmade masts. The ideal objective for a lazy hill-bagger, perhaps?

📌 Walk: Cairn-mon-earn - slog from the Slug Road ★★
Start / finish at car park just off Slug Road (A957), 4 mi southeast of Crathes, G.R.: NH 781909 ///lousy.massive.option

▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 200 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Cairn-mon-earn (378 m, sub-2000')
Terrain: Good tracks, with path for final few hundred metres. Gentle ascent.

Route & map

Car park - summit cairn & trig pillar via tracks around east side of hill - return by outward rou…

Fettercairn Distillery

Aberdeenshire | Fettercairn | Distillery | ★★★

Scotland's most inhospitable mountain range separates Fettercairn Distillery from the most of the rest of the Highland whisky region, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that this is an area often missed by fans of this golden nectar. Don't make the same mistake! Though now owned by alcohol giant Whyte & Mackay, the distillery was founded in 1824 by local estate owner Alexander Ramsay; the bottled product is prominently adorned with that most Scottish of beasts - the unicorn - which was part of the old family crest. Photos of the production area weren't permitted during our tour a good few years back, but times may well have changed.

Location & info

📌 Fettercairn Distillery★★★
Distillery Road, 500 m (or 10-min walk) west of Fettercairn village centre, G.R.: NO 646737 ///dove.protected.hazelnuts
Probably open daily, but closed due to Covid-19 at time of update in September 2020 | £7.50 adult / free for children

Fettercairn Royal Arch

Aberdeenshire | Fettercairn | Monument | ★

During one of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's many visits to their Scottish retreat at Balmoral, the couple elected to stay overnight in Fettercairn on the southeast side of the Cairngorms hill range. To celebrate the arrival of royal guests, a grand arch was constructed at the western entrance to the village, and it still stands in situ today. Today's vehicles are significantly larger than the horse and carriage the arch was presumably built to accommodate, so while cars can still squeeze through, lorries and other large vehicles have to make a detour. Not to be confused with the non-royal - but equally eye-catching - arch over the same road at nearby Edzell.

Location & info

📌 Fettercairn Royal Arch ★
On the B966 / B974 at the west entrance to Fettercairn village, G.R.: NO 650735 ///empire.grins.pushing
Always viewable | Free