Showing posts from November, 2011

Reekie Linn

Angus | Angus Glens | Waterfall | ★★★★

If you're lucky enough to catch it in spate, Reekie Linn is an awe-inspring sight. Its name translates as smoky waterfall, referring to the spray thrown up by the River Isla's 25-metre drop into a plunge pool said to be even deeper than the total height of the falls (there are actually two separate waterfalls, but they combine to form a single drop when the water level is high). The source of the river is in the Cairngorms to the north, so rainfall or snowmelt events far up in the hills can cause river levels to rise suddenly and dramatically. Popular in Victorian times, the spot seems to have lost a little of its fame despite a decent car park and access path, and today deserves to be better known. Further downstream the gorge has a whole series of other cataracts, but dense woodland, steep slopes and few paths make reaching any of these a major expedition.

Location & info

📌 Reekie Linn ★★★★
Off B954 5 mi north of Alyth, G.R.: NO 2545…

Glamis Castle

Angus | Glamis | Castle ★★★★★

17th century Glamis Castle is one of Scotland's most inspiring castles: an iconic, Lyon family-owned residence in which The Queen Mother spent much of her early life. The jumble of turrets and central tower are an impressive sight as you approach along the entrance road, through extensive grounds which are also worth exploring if the weather's good. The highlight, of course, is the tour of the castle interior - quite expensive but worth it. Photographs weren't allowed on our visits, but a quick glance at the castle's website will tell you what to expect: a perfect balance between grandeur, defence and warmth. Glamis itself is quite a pretty village, though the wonderful folk museum housed in a row of old cottages sadly closed for good in 2017.

Location & info

📌 Glamis Castle★★★★★
Off A928 1 mi north of Glamis village, G.R.: NO 386480 ///plant.vessel.rocked
Open daily, late March to October | £15.50 adult / £10 child

Dunnottar Castle

Aberdeenshire | Stonehaven | Castle | ★★★★

As a defensive site Dunnottar Castle's location is the definition of perfection, squeezed onto a rocky headland almost completely cut off from the mainland and surrounded by sheer cliffs. The castle is a true Scottish icon amidst spectacular coastal scenery: little wonder it appears in countless calendars. After admiring the ruin from the mainland (for free), you cross the ravine via a short path, tunnel and hundreds of steps to emerge in the heart of it all. The headland turns out to be more extensive than at first appears so there's a surprising amount to see, built at various times from the 13th century onward: a standalone keep, chapel, several ranges and more even more cellars. If we're being picky then a few more interpretation panels wouldn't go amiss (perhaps they've been improved since our last visit), but tourists still pour in from all around the world regardless of the visitor experience. Walk here from Stoneha…

Glenbuchat Castle

Aberdeenshire | Strathdon | Castle | ★★

Glenbuchat Castle is a characterful 16th century ruin in the quiet upper part of Strathdon. This Z-plan tower house used to belong to the wealthy Gordon clan of nearby Huntly, falling into ruin after being sold by the family in the 1700s. With Kildrummy a few miles down the glen and Corgarff just a little further in the other direction, this is a great region in which to spend a day touring castles.

Location & info

📌 Glenbuchat Castle★★
By the A97 3 mi west of Glenkindie, Strathdon, G.R.: NJ 397149 ///rewarded.flank.trespass
Closed until further notice for conservation works | Free

Walk: Morrone - Braemar's Big Nose

Aberdeenshire | Braemar | Half day walk | ★★★

Morrone (Big Nose or similar) is one of Braemar's local hills: high enough to make a satisfying half-day ascent but too low to make it into the Cairngorms big league. There's no mistaking when you've reached the top, with an ugly radio mast spoiling the summit. Despite this and the fairly undistinguished slopes on the ascent, views into wilder terrain from here are superb, with Lochnagar and the Cairngorms plateau the stars of the show. You can follow the track used to construct the mast on descent to make a circuit, returning by an old military road along the burbling Clunie Water.

📌 Walk: Morrone - Braemar's Big Nose ★★★
Start / finish at the duck pond car park, Chapel Brae, 15-min walk west of Braemar village centre, G.R.: NO 143911 ///lamps.tent.tabs. Alternative start point in the village centre.

▶ 12 km / 7 mi | ▲ 650 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Tough
Features: Braemar duck pond; △ Morrone (859 m, Corbett); Clunie Water; Brae…


Aberdeenshire | Town | ★★

Huntly is a quietly attractive and sizeable town nestling in a broad hollow on the banks of the River Bogie (you at the back, stop sniggering). There's a neat central square with plenty of independent shops on the roads leading off it, with the northern one becoming a fine old avenue which leads to the grand ruin of Huntly Castle. With Dean's Shortbread Factory in the suburbs and an excellent falconry centre nearby, it's a good choice for a varied day out.

Location & info

📌 Huntly ★★
Aberdeenshire, G.R.: NJ 529400 ///hoot.lazy.screening

🚶 The castle is an easy stroll from the town centre, but there's not much else within walking distance; this isn't an obvious base for those without a car.
🚌 Huntly receives trains and coaches on the Aberdeen to Inverness transport routes, and there are a handful of other local buses.

See & do (<1 mi away)

📌 Huntly Castle★★★
💬 Ruined castle and seat of Clan Gordon, dating to the mid-14th centur…

Walk: Magnificent Maskeldie & Glen Lee waterfalls

Angus | Angus Glens | Full day walk | ★★★★★

For sheer variety, the terrain surrounding Craig Maskeldie has it all. Dark crags, a deep loch and a couple of thundering waterfalls give this area a distinctively rough feel for the usually rounded Cairngorms. This circuit starts with a straightforward "walk in" amongst increasingly dramatic scenery, passing picturesque Loch Lee on route to the spectacular Falls of Unich. The fan-shaped Falls of Damff are only a short climb beyond, but are only seen to best effect by crossing the burn and braving the pathless western slopes of Craig Maskeldie. The summit's position right on the edge of sheer cliffs gives dizzying views of the Water of Lee far below, with Mount Keen dominating the northern horizon. After the relatively tough terrain, the easy and scenic track used for the descent will be a welcome sight.

📌 Walk: Magnificent Maskeldie & Glen Lee waterfalls ★★★★★
Start / finish at car park near Glen Esk minor road end, 4 mi w…

Prop of Ythsie

Aberdeenshire | Tarves | Tower | ★★

The Prop of Ythsie (pronounced "EYE-see") was built in 1861 in memory of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, on a low hill overlooking Tarves village amidst gentle Formartine countryside. From the car park it's only a short walk to the base of the tower. From here, 91 steps separate you from extensive views over rural Aberdeenshire towards distant villages and hills. 91 pitch black, spiraling steps, covered with twigs and bird droppings... OK, perhaps you should bring a torch, although it's not quite as bad as Hopetoun Monument down in the Scottish Lowlands.

Location & info

📌 Prop of Ythsie ★★
Off minor road 1 mi east of Tarves, G.R.: NJ 884315 ///safety.heaven.easy
Always open | Free

💬 From the car park at G.R.: NJ 882307 ///chats.equal.thousands it's a 15-min walk (each way) uphill to the tower, on a track then a muddy path.

Tolquhon Castle

Aberdeenshire | Pitmedden | Castle | ★★★

Tolquhon Castle is only half an hour's drive from Aberdeen, but often gets neglected in favour of the better-known castles to the west of the city. But this is still a substantial ruin with plenty of character, enhanced by the fact that you're likely to get it all to yourself. The castle was initially built as a tower house in the early 1400s, probably by the Preston family. But Tolquhon is really a story of the Forbes family: the tower soon passed into the family through marriage and William Forbes, 7th Lord of Tolquhon, carried out major extensions to transform tower house into luxurious residence. Look out for his plaque above the gatehouse.

Location & info

📌 Tolquhon Castle★★★
Off the B999 2 mi north of Pitmedden, G.R.: NJ 873286 ///equipment.castle.paddocks
Open Friday to Wednesday, April to September | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

Walk: Millstone Hill - Bennachie's quiet sibling

Aberdeenshire | Bennachie | Half day walk | ★★★

Millstone Hill is nowhere near as famous as its more distinctive neighbour, Mither Tap. However, it's the best viewpoint for the latter and much, much quieter. An unremittingly steep climb from glen level quickly takes you above the treeline for excellent views across Donside towards the distant Cairngorms. These pale in comparison to the summit panorama however. Mither Tap looks absolutely glorious from here, thrusting high above surrounding farmland. Save your knees by taking advantage of the (slightly) gentler return route.

📌 Walk: Millstone Hill - Bennachie's quiet sibling ★★★
Start / finish at car park on minor road at Donview, 6 mi west of Kemnay, G.R.: NJ 672190 ///palm.breezes.lotteries

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 320 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: △ Millstone Hill (409 m, sub-2000')
Terrain: Mostly well-made, waymarked paths, though unrelentingly steep with a few rough sections.

Route & map

Car park - Millstone Hill b…