Showing posts from April, 2014

Walk: Whale of a time at Bow Fiddle Rock

Moray | Portknockie | Half day walk | ★★★★

Bow Fiddle Rock is one of the highlights of the magnificent Moray coastline. The huge stack is connected to another by a sloping rock arch, with the resulting sculpture variously described as a sinking ship, bow and fiddle or a whale's tail. If the latter, then the other end of the mammal is at the Whale's Mouth - an aptly-named, gaping hole of a cave / arch just to the south. This coastal walk visits both with an inland railway line creating a brilliant circular walk. Starting in smaller Portknockie enables a mid-trip visit to The Ice Cream Shop in Cullen (reputedly Scotland's best). Don't forget to visit the picturesque harbours in both villages.

📌 Walk: Whale of a time at Bow Fiddle Rock ★★★★
Start / finish on Bridge Street (street parking), Portknockie village centre, G.R.: NJ 490684 ///shipped.thickens.earful. Alternative start midway along the route in Cullen.

▶ 8 km / 5 mi | ▲ 90 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Features: P…

Kildrummy Castle

Aberdeenshire | Lumsden | Castle | ★★★

Approaching from the car park, it's clear to see that Kildrummy Castle was once a truly great fortress. It dates to the mid-13th century, was constructed by the Earl of Mar, and now overlooks the adjacent, tranquil Kildrummy Castle Gardens. Despite its ruinous state, the castle's imposing curtain walls, high windows and scale of the site still dominate the countryside here in wild Strathdon.

Location & info

📌 Kildrummy Castle★★★
Off the A97 4 mi south of Lumsden, G.R.: NJ 455164 ///rescue.mend.recover
Open daily, April to September | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members


Aberdeenshire | Lost | Region sights | ★

There's a unique secret hiding away in Glen Nochty, reached by minor roads and tracks from deepest Strathdon. The seriously remote, tiny Lost Gallery couldn't be more aptly named - it's difficult enough to find even if over-enthusiastic tourists haven't recently stolen the Lost road sign pointing the way from Bellabeg. By the turnoff, there's a parking area for the prominent mound known as the Doune of Invernochty. A 12th century castle once stood on top of the motte: although almost nothing remains today, the earthworks are still impressive and easily climbed (steeply).

Location & info

📌 Doune of Invernochty ★
Next to A944 at Bellabeg, Strathdon, G.R.: NJ 352129 ///intend.dizziness.landmark
Always open | Free

📌 Lost Gallery
On forest track 3 mi northwest of Bellabeg, Strathdon, G.R.: NJ 312158 ///conceals.retained.vital
Open Wednesday to Monday | Free

Anything else? Approach to Lost Gallery is by 1+ mi of rough forestry …

Walk: Summit of Conachcraig, spirit of Lochnagar

Aberdeenshire | Easter Balmoral | Full day walk | ★★★

Conachcraig's trio of rounded lumps are little visited compared to their illustrious neighbours. Their heathery summits aren't particularly notable, however, all eyes will be drawn to the magnificent views of Lochnagar from here - and also on the long approach, which is scenically more rewarding than the shorter ascent from Glen Muick. With a pathless descent to follow, you'll really have earned that dram by the time you stagger into Royal Lochnagar Distillery, perfectly positioned at the end of the circuit.

📌 Walk: Summit of Conachcraig, spirit of Lochnagar ★★★
Start / at Royal Lochnagar Distillery (ask for permission, or park outside), minor road half a mile southeast of Easter Balmoral, G.R.: NO 268939 ///shuttled.glorious.treetop

▶ 21 km / 13 mi | ▲ 790 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Conachcraig (865 m, Corbett); Caisteal na Caillich (862 m) | Features: Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Terrain: Good tracks for most of th…

Walk: Corwharn from the Cat's back

Angus | Angus Glens | Full day walk | ★★

The rolling hills surrounding Cat Law hide Glen Prosen away from passing crowds. Piecing together broad ridges and grassy tracks behind the summit creates a mostly easy-going circuit to lower Corwharn which delivers with views what it lacks in drama. Towards the end of the lengthy but beautiful return through the Glen Quharity to the start, keep an eye out for (private) Balintore Castle on the hill above Balintore - derelict until recently but now being restored to its former grandeur.

📌 Walk: Corwharn from the Cat's back ★★
Start / finish at front gate to Balintore Castle (space for a few cars nearby - don't block access), minor road 3 mi north of Bridgend of Lintrathen, G.R.: NO 296587 ///

▶ 19 km / 12 mi | ▲ 740 m | ⌚ Full day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Cat Law (671 m, Graham); Corwharn (611 m, sub-2000') | Features: Balintore Castle
Terrain: Good hill tracks, although rougher around Tarapetmile, followed by a steep descent…

Howe of Cromar

Aberdeenshire | Howe of Cromar | Region sights | ★★

As the B9119 winds through the pass between Craiglich and Pressendye, a magnificent vista opens up over the fertile hollow ahead towards the often snowy coire of Lochnagar. Welcome to the Howe of Cromar. Quiet and tiny Tarland is the main settlement, surrounded by several historical structures with construction dates varying from 4,000 years ago to the 21st century: all free, all worth exploration.

Location & info

📌 Culsh Earth House★★
Description: 2,000 year old, 15 m underground passage (or souterrain) probably used to store grain.
By the B9119 2 mi east of Tarland, G.R.: NJ 505055 ///evolution.slicing.according
Always open | Free

📌 Migvie Church ★★
Description: Stunning restored chapel in an unassuming building - a true hidden gem.
Off minor road at Migvie (limited parking on track to churchyard - don't block gates), 4 mi west of Tarland, G.R.: NJ 437068 ///luckier.wealth.wants
Always open | Free

📌 Peel Ring of Lumphanan

Walk: Craiglich - Cromar's royal view

Aberdeenshire | Tarland | Short walk | ★★

Queen Victoria was suitably impressed with the view even from the start of this walk (giving rise to the name, "Queen's View") and you should be too, as the panorama from the summit of nearby Craiglich is even better. There's nothing special about the short ascent on forestry tracks, but once you escape the trees you're rewarded with views of many of Aberdeenshire's familiar hills: Lochnagar, Morven, Pressendye and Bennachie amongst others, the former shrouded in fog on our visit.

📌 Walk: Craiglich - Cromar's royal view ★★
Start / finish at layby on B9119 at West Tillylodge, 4 mi east of Tarland, G.R.: NJ 527064 ///starlight.allow.presses

▶ 3 km / 2 mi | ▲ 190 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Craiglich (476 m, sub-2000')
Terrain: Reasonable tracks - the first few hundred metres churned up by logging activity on our trip.

Route & map

Layby - Craiglich - return by outward route

Route credit: Walkhighlands
On our …