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Royal Deeside : Ballater Walking Festival
Programme of Walks


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Ballater Royal Deeside Walking Festival takes part in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. The programme is based on three series of walks spread over six days, Sunday through to Friday. On each day there are three walks of varying difficulty denoted Easy, Moderate or Strenuous/Long and walkers may choose between them as desired. These are listed below.

Experienced and competent guides are provided on all walks, with a fully qualified advisor and professional guide leading the higher level walks. Our guides are responsible for safety of participants. Most of the walks are situated within the Cairngorms National Park, though a few will stray into parts of West Aberdeenshire which border the Park or the Angus Glens to the south of it.

Details of the programme for the 2014 festival are given below.

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View Walks Programme 2014
EASY Walks MEDIUM Walks STRENUOUS Walks  

  Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Easy
3
6
9
12
15
18
Medium
2
5
8
11
14
17
Strenuous
1
4
7
10
13
16

 

 

The EASY Programme, 2014

 

Date of Walk

Sunday 18th May

Walk 3: Craig Leek Circular

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

8 km, 5 ml
210 m, 690 ft
Landranger 43
NO 188 914
4.5 hrs / 10.00

Beginning from Keiloch, we follow the tarred drive almost as far as Invercauld House, the seat of Clan Farquharson, where we turn right. The track now follows an old drove road in a northerly direction towards Tomintoul. We ascend this gently for 3 km then leave it, turning right on another path where the vista opens out providing stunning views of Lochnagar and the surrounding country. We follow the markers as we descend into the valley, passing old settlements and the limestone cliffs of Craig Leek on our right. Once on lower ground, we make our way to Fellagie and a short walk back to our starting point.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent    x      
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground    x      

 

Date of Walk

Monday 19th May

Walk 6: Spittal of Muick to Mill of Sterrin

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

11 km, 7 ml
Negligible
Landranger 44
NO 310 852 /NO 349 928
4 hours / 10.00

This route follows Walk 5 as far as Inchnabobart but continues down Glen Muick, passing the spectacular (depending on recent rainfall) Falls of Muick en route. Our pickup point is near to the home of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent  x        
Steepness  x        
Rough Ground  x        

 

Date of Walk

Tuesday 20th May

Walk 9: Invercauld Bridge to Crathie

Distance
Ascent
OS Map

GR Start/End
Time / Depart

10 km, 6.5 ml
80 m, 260 ft
Landranger 43, 44
NO 186 911 / NO 264 949
4 hrs / 10.00

This is a pleasant walk entirely within Balmoral Estate. We start at the Old Bridge of Dee, cross into the Ballochbuie Forest and pay a short visit to the famous Garrawalt Falls. We now follow the main estate road (once a public road) eastwards, through forest, farm land and finally parkland, to exit the estate via the main gates. Look out for red deer, red squirrels, capercailzie and black grouse, not to mention the Queen’s prize Highland cattle and ponies.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent  x        
Steepness  x        
Rough Ground  x        

 

Date of Walk

Wednesday 21st May

Walk 12: Cambus o’ May Quarries

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

10 km, 6.5 ml
100 m, 330 ft
Landranger 44
NO 370 958
4 hrs / 10.00

Departing from the Hut on the Green, we walk out the old Deeside railway line as far as the new cheese factory at Turner Hall. Here we cross the A93 and head up the track to the quarries from which a large percentage of Ballater’s buildings came. We’ll take a look at the extensive workings, with great views over the Dee valley. Our return is through the birchwoods leading back to Tullich. We recross the A93, have a look at the ancient church there then follow the Deeside line back to Ballater.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent  x        
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground    x      

 

Date of Walk

Thursday 22nd May

Walk 15: Black Bridge (Glen Gairn) to Ballater

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

8.5.km, 5.2 ml
75 m, 250 ft
Landranger 37
NJ 316 004 / NO 370 958
3.5 hrs / 10.00

This pleasant walk follows one of the Dee’s main tributaries but on the less frequented north side. We leave our transport at the Black Bridge, which we cross and head off downstream via Balno, Inverfenzie, Laggan, Lary and Abergairn then back to Ballater via the Minister’s Path.


Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent  x        
Steepness  x        
Rough Ground  x        

 

Date of Walk

Friday 23rd May

Walk 18: Kirkton Cottages to Potarch

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

8 km, 5 ml
70 m, 230 ft
Landranger 37
NJ 549 001 / NO 607 973
3.5 hrs / 10.00

Starting on the old railway line at Kirkton Cottages, our route follows a new section of the Deeside Way. We make a detour and short ascent to see the scenic Sloc of Dess waterfall before rejoining the Deeside Way to descend to Deeside’s oldest village, Kincardine O’ Neil, where we visit the historic kirkyard. From here the path levels out to the end of our walk, where we cross Potarch Bridge over the Dee. See if you can lift the Dinnie stones at the Hotel!

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent  x        
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground  x        


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A Right Royal Show

 

The MEDIUM Programme, 2014

 

Date of Walk

Sunday 18th May

Walk 2: Pollagach Road and Pannanich Hill

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

18 km, 11 ml
430 m, 1420 ft
Landranger 44
NO 370 958
5.5 hrs / 09.00

We leave Ballater by the Royal Bridge, turn right onto the South Deeside Road and walk to the bridge of Muick, where we follow a track known as the Pollagach Road for a steepish climb up to Craig Vallich. We then continue to Pannanich Hill before descending almost to Glenmuick House, entering the forest, passing the old curling ponds and emerging at the Royal Bridge and home.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length      x    
Ascent      x    
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground    x      

 

Date of Walk

Monday 19th May

Walk 5: Spittal of Muick to Ballater
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
  24 km, 15 ml
100 m, 330 ft
Landranger 44
NO 310 852 / NO 370 958
6.5 hrs / 09.00

This is a long but relatively straightforward walk starting at the Spittal of Muick. The track takes us across and down Glen Muick as far as Inchnabobart. Here we turn westward onto the Sgairneach Road leading over the head of Glen Girnock then down the glen via Bovaglie and Loinveg to Littlemill. After about 1 km on public road we take to the woods, leading to Polhollick Bridge and part of the Seven Bridges Walk back to Ballater.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length          x
Ascent  x        
Steepness  x        
Rough Ground  x        

 

Date of Walk

Tuesday 20th May

Walk 8: Geallaig Hill & Blairglass
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

12 km, 7.5 ml
470 m, 1540 ft
Landranger 37
NO 267 987 / NO 261982
5 hrs / 09.00

Starting from the Old Military Road between Crathie and Gairnshiel, our route ascends Geallaig Hill, giving superb views of Glen Gairn, the Dee Valley and Lochnagar. We descend to the road again at Braenaloin and follow a track to Rineten, then strike off to find an historic Catholic burial ground and watermill. We return via the abandoned croft of Blairglass, where we join another track leading back to the road

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length    x      
Ascent      x    
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Wednesday 21st May

Walk 11: The Prince’s Stone
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart t
  18 km, 11 ml
400 m, 1300 ft
Landranger 44
NO 265 942
6 hrs / 09.00

Starting at Easter Balmoral, we walk up the Dubh-chlais and soon emerge into the open of Glen Gelder with extensive views to Lochnagar. We continue up then across the glen to a pony shelter where we leave the Landrover track and follow a stalker’s path up the Feith an Laoigh. A short steep section takes us to the stone marking the spot where Prince Albert camped in 1857. Our return is via the Garmaddie Woods, Invergelder and the Dubh-chlais. We should see plenty wildlife.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length        x  
Ascent      x    
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Thursday 22nd May

Walk 14: Circular walk via Sgor Buidhe, Peter’s Hill, Lary & Abergairn 
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
  17 km, 11 ml
450 m, 1480 ft
Landranger 37
NO 370 958
6.5 hrs / 09.00

We leave Ballater and follow the cinder path to the Pass of Ballater. We quickly reach a good track leading in a northerly direction under Sgor Buidhe and on to Creag Riabhach. The climb is steady for 4 km or so before reaching the track from Balmenach. This is open country with extensive views. Our route skirts Peter’s Hill, after which we head northwesterly. We descend a steep spur before crossing the Lary Burn. On reaching Lary we join a quiet road which we follow for about 2 km, before skirting Prony Hill and the remains of an old silver mine. Soon we reach Abergairn and the Pass of Ballater, leading us back, via the Hilton Timeshare Complex to the village.


Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length      x    
Ascent      x    
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Friday 23rd May

Walk 17: Aboyne – Mortlich circular
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
  13 km, 8 ml
290 m, 950 ft
Landranger 37
NO 534 987
5 hrs / 09.00

From the east end of Aboyne, we follow the old Deeside railway line past Aboyne Loch, a good place to spot ospreys fishing. We round the north shore of the loch and follow a meandering path through attractive woodland towards the historic hill of Mortlich. The ascent to the summit is an optional extension. We continue on a moorland path to Little Hill and descend to another section of the old railway, which we follow east for a short distance before crossing the A93. From here we take the road to the recently refurbished Belwade Farm horse sanctuary, then a track along the Tarland Burn to the Bell Wood where paths lead back to the village.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length      x    
Ascent    x      
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground    x      


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The STRENUOUS Programme, 2014

 

Date of Walk

Sunday 18th May

Walk 1: Jock’s Road, Glen Clova to Auchallater
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
21.5 km, 13.5 ml
700m, 2300ft
Landranger 43 & 44
NO 284 761 / NO 156 882
7.5 hrs /: 07.30
 

This was one of the well known drove roads of old and the scene of a famous legal case in the 1880s. We start at the Glendoll Lodge car park and head up Glendoll on a good track. We soon start climbing up to the high plateau and the scene of more than one winter tragedy. Time and weather permitting, we may take the short detour to Tom Buidhe and Tolmount, both Munros, but otherwise we continue on high ground until the drop into Glen Callater. Thereafter, it’s an easy walk to the bus at Auchallater.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length        x  
Ascent        x  
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Monday 19th May

Walk 4: West Glenshee Hills
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

18 km, 11 ml
860 m, 2840 ft
Landranger 43
NO 138 832 / NO 139 782
6.5 hrs / 08.30

We set off on the Baddoch farm track but quickly start our ascent of a long grassy ridge leading to Carn Chrionaidh, passing the site of Grant’s Henhoos en route. The climb continues to Carn Aosda, the first of our three Munros. Thereafter we follow a series of undulating ridges to Carn a’ Gheoidh then Cairnwell and finally descend via the ski tracks to the ski centre and our transport home.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length        x  
Ascent          x
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Tuesday 20th May

Walk 7: Baddoch to Inverey
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
  23 km, 14 ml
360 m, 1200 ft
Landranger 43
NO 138 832 / NO 089 893
8 hrs / 08.00

From the A93 we enter grassy Glen Baddoch and follow a Landrover track until it ends in the middle of nowhere. Here we take to the now heathery slopes and skirt round An Socach before descending to the ruins of Altanour Lodge where we pick up an estate road. From here it’s a mainly level walk out to Inverey, passing the Colonel’s Bed as well as many ruined homes.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length          x
Ascent      x    
Steepness      x    
Rough Ground        x  

 

Date of Walk

Wednesday 21st May

Walk 10: Carn an t-Sagairt Mor 

Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

18 km, 11 ml
670 m, 2200 ft
Landranger 43, 44
NO 156 882 / NO 186 911
6.5 hrs / 08.30

This traverse of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor (the big hill of the priest) starts at Auchallater and heads up Glen Callater to the lodge by Loch Callater. Here we start climbing on a good stalker’s path and rapidly gain height until we reach the wreckage strewn summit (Canberra bomber, 1955). We descend northwards, soon picking up another stalker’s path, down the Smuggler’s Shank and into Ballochbuie Forest. We pass the Garrawalt Falls before reaching our transport at the Old Bridge of Dee

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length        x  
Ascent        x  
Steepness        x  
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Thursday 22nd May

Walk 13: Glen Feshie to Glen Geldie 
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart
  33 km, 21 ml
350 m, 1200 ft
Landranger 43
NN 851 985 / NO 063 897
9 hrs / 07.00

This is one of the classic drove road routes through the Cairngorms. It is a long but rewarding walk. We start near Achlean in Glen Feshie, a beautiful, lightly wooded glen, becoming more barren as we approach the watershed with the Geldie –here is an example of “river capture”. There follows a section which can be fairly wet underfoot before we reach a Landrover track which takes us right down the Geldie then the Dee to reach our transport at the Linn of Dee.

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length          x
Ascent    x      
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground      x    

 

Date of Walk

Friday 23rd May

Walk 16: Glen Lui, Glen Dee circular 
Distance
Ascent
OS Map
GR Start/End
Time / Depart

22 km, 14 ml
300 m, 1000 ft
Landranger 43
NO 063 897
7.5 hrs Departure: 08.00

This is a glen walk around the southern fringes of the main Cairngorm range, affording excellent views into the Lairig Ghru. The start is at the NTS car park at the Linn of Dee and takes us up Glen Lui as far as Derry Lodge. (See how many old larachs you can spot.) At Derry we turn westwards up the Luibeg, which we cross before climbing over the shoulder of Carn a Mhaim into Glen Dee. We now turn southwards and follow the Dee back to our starting point, passing the Chest of Dee and the White Bridge en route. This is Golden Eagle country

Ratings 1 2 3 4 5
Length        x  
Ascent    x      
Steepness    x      
Rough Ground      x    


 


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