Showing posts from March, 2012

Walk: Raise a glass for Brandy

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

Most visitors to Glen Clova make a beeline for the head of the glen on a trip to see Corrie Fee. But Loch Brandy above the east side of the valley is equally beautiful; here, majestic crags frame a stunning loch, a stiff but shortish climb from the Glen Clova Hotel. Ascend the flanks on either side of the coire and the plateau revealed above is a different world: often boggy and pathless, but with mountain hares scampering in all directions and a remote feel. Ben Tirran is the underwhelming high point (vertically speaking), but it sits above Loch Wharral, a slightly less dramatic clone of Loch Brandy. Returning to the busy hotel for food or drink afterwards can come as a bit of an atmosphere shock on a summer weekend.

📌 Walk: Raise a glass for Brandy ★★★★
Start / finish at car park on B955 just west of Glen Clova Hotel, G.R.: NO 327731 ///parks.cascaded.political

▶ 15 km / 9 mi | ▲ 750 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: The Goet / Ben Tirran (8…

Walk: Sub-par signposting on Mortlich

Aberdeenshire | Aboyne | Half day walk | ★★★

Many tourists can't wait for Aboyne to come to an end as they pass impatiently through this sizeable but quiet village bound for upper Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park. But there's good walking in these parts too. Mortlich's forested slopes rise up to the north of the village's golf club, with a picturesque and varied circuit possible which takes in both. It's no stroll in the park though: the few waymarkers are woefully inadequate and vegetation growth can hinder progress especially in late summer. Attempt the route without a map at your peril.

📌 Walk: Sub-par signposting on Mortlich ★★★
Start / finish at Golf Road (street parking), half a mile east of Aboyne village centre, G.R.: NO 532990 ///falls.fiery.nibbles

▶ 9 km / 6 mi | ▲ 290 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Mortlich (381 m) | Features: Loch of Aboyne
Terrain: Paths and tracks which can be overgrown in places - particularly when leaving the go…

Aberdour Bay

Aberdeenshire | New Aberdour | Beach | ★★★

A little way north of the village of New Aberdour, a narrow road drops down from Aberdeenshire farmland to reach Aberdour Bay. This is no sandy tourist hotpot: instead there's just raw, beautiful coastline with dramatic sandstone arches and caves at the eastern end of the long, shingle beach. All of this is best explored when the tide's out, as well as the rock pools exposed by the receding water level.

Location & info

📌 Aberdour Bay ★★★
By minor road end 1 mi north of New Aberdour, G.R.: NJ 886646 ///october.boom.uplifting
Always open | Free

Aikey Brae Stone Circle

Aberdeenshire | Old Deer | Stone circle | ★★

Even the approach path to this beautiful stone circle is an atmospheric journey. The dirt trod plunges abruptly into dense woodland: only a small thicket but seemingly huge when you're in the middle of it. Just as you think you might have lost the path, the stones suddenly appear ahead on an open hilltop overlooking Old Deer and the nearby ruined abbey to the northeast. As is often the case with ancient monuments such as this, the beauty is in how the site has survived undisturbed by 4,000 years of change all around.

Location & info

📌 Aikey Brae Stone Circle ★★
Off minor road 2 mi west of Old Deer, G.R.: NJ 959471 ///beginning.ramps.giant
Always open | Free

Anything else? There's just space for a small car (only!) at the signpost off the minor road at G.R.: NJ 956470 /// (don't block entrances). The stone circle is a 5-min walk away: head uphill on the track for a short distance before turning right onto a pat…

Deer Abbey

Aberdeenshire | Old Deer | Abbey | ★★

Founded in 1219, the ruins of Deer Abbey are today found next to the A950 as it passes between two low hills just west of (dear old) Old Deer. Not much remains above ground-floor level, but the layout of the buildings is still fairly easy to make out. The abbey library is believed to have once held the Book of Deer, from an even earlier monastery nearby. Parts of this (dating from about 1100) are the earliest examples of written Gaelic still to survive from Scotland. Aikey Brae Stone Circle is barely a mile away - also worth visiting.

Location & info

📌 Deer Abbey★★
By the A950 1 mi west of Old Deer, G.R.: NJ 969481 ///calculating.straws.walls
Open daily | Free

Walk: Dunbuy the Bullers of Buchan

Aberdeenshire | Cruden Bay | Short walk | ★★★★

The Buchan coast alternates between long, sandy beaches and dramatic cliff sections. The stretch to the north of Cruden Bay is in the latter category, with a succession of spectacular rock stacks and jagged headlands. One highlight is Slains Castle, a ruin which may have inspired the Dracula novel; another is Dunbuy, an austere rock stack with an unlikely arch right through its middle and hundreds of seabirds. The three superb miles of coast path culminate in the Bullers of Buchan: an enormous collapsed sea cave now featuring a majestic arch leading out to sea.

📌 Walk: Dunbuy the Bullers of Buchan ★★★★
Park at the finish and take the bus along the coast road to the start (roughly hourly, but check times in advance). Start in Cruden Bay village centre, G.R.: NK 090363 ///newer.flamingo.dolphins. Finish at Bullers of Buchan car park, on A975 2 mi northeast of Cruden Bay, G.R.: NK 107380 ///mixed.looked.rural

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 70 m | ⌚ Short…