Walk: Rocks of Solitude - beyond the blue door

Angus | Angus Glens | Half day walk | ★★★

[Rocks of Solitude]

The Rocks of Solitude is the evocative name given to a picturesque stretch of the River Esk as it passes through a narrow cleft on the fringes of the Cairngorms. You'll probably need to stoop to pass through the charming blue door giving access to the wooded banks downstream from here, which form part of an old estate. Both the doorway and the Rocks of Solitude have their own limited parking, but tracing the bank all the way from Edzell village (a couple of miles further downstream) properly showcases the transition from Lowland to Highland scenery, with various gorge sections interspersed with verdant forest and farmland. Although essentially a there-and-back walk, a maze of paths at the far end allows some variation, while south of Gannochy Bridge it's possible to return on the opposite bank to the outward leg.

[Woodland beyond Gannochy]

📌 Walk: Rocks of Solitude - North Esk quest ★★★
Start / finish at the post office (street parking), High Street (B966), Edzell village centre, G.R.: NO 601689 ///coins.explores.flickers

▶ 10 km / 6 mi | ▲ 80 m | ⌚ Half a day | Moderate
Features: River North Esk; Rocks of Solitude gorge
Terrain: Clear paths with a little mud, though some sections are quite rough - particularly for the last part beyond Gannochy Bridge (which can also flood in spate conditions) and for the very northernmost section. Steep detours with steps descend to river level at several points.

Route & map

Start - track between post office & garage to River North Esk - Gannochy & B966 by west bank - 1st set of rapids (through blue door on east bank) - 2nd set of rapids (under remains of old bridge) - 3rd set of rapids (Rocks of Solitude) - rough extension to waterfall a little further upstream - return to main path, which continues to road - inland path shortens outward route - Gannochy - return to start by east bank


Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track

On our visit

Wildlife: 2020: Salmon in the river, grey wagtails, dippers, birds of prey. 2012: a couple of red squirrels north of Gannochy.
Weather: 2020: Sunny intervals, 13°C, windy. 2012: rain shower and rainbows at first, then brightening up. Cool.

Also on this walk

📌 Rocks of Solitude ★★
On the River North Esk, off minor road 3 mi north of Edzell, G.R.: NO 588729 ///swam.nutty.detect
Always open | Free

Anything else? As mentioned above, the Rocks of Solitude is just one of several areas of rapids between here and Gannochy, so the full route (or at least the part north from Gannochy) is recommended. The closest parking to the Rocks of Solitude themselves is at around G.R.: NO 589730, from which it's a 5-min walk (each way) to the riverbank.

Chronological photo guide

[Path beyond Edzell]

[Woodland on the outward leg]

[River North Esk from the road bridge at Gannochy]

[Blue door]

[Path north of Gannochy]

[The first main set of rapids are at Gannochy]

[River North Esk]

[Riverside path]

[Second main set of rapids]

[Second main set of rapids]

[River North Esk]

[Picturesque path]

[Side waterfall]

[Rocks of Solitude]

[Rocks of Solitude]

[Waterfall just upstream of the Rocks of Solitude]

[Woodland beyond Gannochy]

[River North Esk beyond Gannochy]

[The return beyond Gannochy is rough and prone to flooding]

[Footbridge at Edzell]

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