Showing posts from February, 2012

Walk: Giant's Cradle & a Linen Apron

Moray | Dufftown | Short walk | ★★★

The water around Dufftown must have special qualities: not only is it responsible for several world-famous distilleries, but it's also created some fascinating natural features. Just upstream from the village centre, the Dullan Water emerges from a small gorge. Within the dark confines of the valley is the Giant's Cradle: an impressive pothole once eroded by the burn, improbably high above the water level nowadays. This whole stretch of the water course makes for a delightful woodland and riverside wander whatever the weather, perhaps best after heavy rain when the usually piddly Linen Apron waterfall on a tributary next to the path earns its name (apparently). For an extension, walk from the centre of Dufftown - or from Glenfiddich / Balvenie if you've been sampling their whisky.

📌 Walk: Giant's Cradle & a Linen Apron ★★★
Start / finish at Dufftown Distillery (street parking nearby), 10-min walk south of Dufftown centre, G.R.: N…

Auchindoun Castle

Moray | Dufftown | Castle | ★★★

Auchindoun Castle doesn't have a road going past it, so you have to expend a little effort to reach it. The formidable building dates to the 15th century but was abandoned in the early 1700's - this after it was burnt in revenge for an attack on Corgarff Castle which involved the murder of all its occupants. With this grisly history and the remote location, this is one of those places with a powerful atmosphere around it: hostile, bordering on frightening, and definitely not helped by the cold wind that often seems to blow across the hillside here. Well worth a visit if you're calling at nearby Dufftown.

Location & info

📌 Auchindoun Castle★★★
Off the A941 3 mi southeast of Dufftown, G.R.: NJ 349375 ///poetry.storyline.talkers
Always open | Free

Anything else? The castle is a 15-min walk (each way) from the small layby on the A941 at G.R.: NJ 340378 ///grass.grins.organ. Walk east up the stony track, keeping right at a fork. A final short p…

Knock Castle

Aberdeenshire | Ballater | Castle | ★★

Deeside has several famous castles but Knock Castle is very much off the beaten track. Hidden away in between areas of forest and a short walk from the nearest road, this 4-storey tower house dates to the late 16th century and you can still carefully poke around inside. This is a pleasingly quiet and atmospheric place with none of the bluster of nearby Balmoral Castle.

Location & info

📌 Knock Castle ★★
Off the B976 2 mi west of Ballater, G.R.: NO 352952 ///estate.eventful.acclaim
Always open | Free

Anything else? Space for a couple of cars by the track junction on the B976 at G.R.: NO 354949 ///hang.arming.overpower. From here it's a 5-min uphill walk to the castle on the unsigned track to the north (last part across a field).

Ythan Estuary

Aberdeenshire | Newburgh | Wildlife reserve | ★★★★

The Ythan isn't a particularly large river, but it balloons in size to the east of Ellon as extensive areas of mud flats open out either side of the main channel. This is a hotspot for wading birds (winter), breeding eiders and terns (late spring and early summer), with fabulous sunsets from the upper estuary's Waulkmill hide. For many visitors though, the main attraction is the seals, which often haul out in their dozens as the tide falls at the mouth of the estuary. This is one of the best spots for watching the pinnipeds anywhere in the UK; only once out of our several visits have the seals been absent here, so the odds should be in your favour too as long as there aren't any walkers with dogs around, which can scare them off. The sands form the southern part of Forvie National Nature Reserve: the massive dunes to the north are well worth exploring too.

Location & info

📌 Waulkmill hide ★★
Off minor road 3 mi west of …

Walk: Up the boggy Buck

Aberdeenshire / Moray | Cabrach | Half day walk | ★★

The Buck marks the northern terminus of a broad, heathery ridge straddling the border between Moray and Aberdeenshire. The B9002 contours its northern slopes, allowing a short, direct ascent which can be a real bog slog at times. Fortunately there's a saving grace in the excellent summit views, especially northeast over Aberdeenshire towards the Tap o' Noth and Strathbogie. Definitely one to save for a clear day though - if there's been recent heavy rain, forget it.

📌 Walk: Up the boggy Buck ★★
Start / finish at layby on B9002 3 mi east of Cabrach village, G.R.: NJ 420255 ///shadow.thumps.height

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 290 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: The Buck (721 metres, Graham)
Terrain: Short section of road, then boggy track, then wet path for the ascent which gets progressively drier with height.

Route & map

Layby - gate at G.R.: NJ 421253 - Dryford How - The Buck - return by outward route

Route credit: Scotland …

Loanhead Stone Circle

Aberdeenshire | Daviot | Stone circles | ★★

Loanhead Stone Circle is one of the better of the large bunch of 4,000 year old stone circles found all over the north east. Or rather, one of them is - there are actually a pair of circles on this hilltop site, but little of remains of the second. The main circle consists of nearly a dozen boulders including a hefty recumbent stone flanked by two upright ones; this is common amongst the region's stone circles and their alignment probably relates to the lunar calendar.

Location & info

📌 Loanhead Stone Circle★★
Off minor road half a mile north of Daviot village, G.R.: NJ 748289 ///castle.pokes.solo
Always open | Free