Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms offers some of the best walking in Scotland and Northern Europe. There are no less than 24 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) in the Braemar area alone! The area is great for hill walking and famous hills and mountain names such as Lochnagar, Morven, Derry Cairngorm, Beinn a Bhuird and the Lairig Ghru all lie in the area. There are however lots of hill walking experiences for all abilities with literally hundreds of footpaths, trails and walks to suit all levels from experienced and committed Munro-baggers to those looking for a picturesque wander.
Whether you’re dedicated to bagging Munros or just looking for a leisurely stroll with the family on a bright winter’s day, Royal Deeside and The Cairngorms can offer scenic walks to suit everyone. As the days grow shorter and winter arrives, enjoy the changing of seasons with breathtaking views across the region. To give you a head start, Royal Deeside and The Cairngorms Destination Management Organisation (DMO) has come up with some of its top winter wonderland walks:
The snow covered hills of Royal Deeside and The Cairngorms provide plenty of excitement for young and old. For a leisurely Sunday morning head to Scolty Hill in Banchory. This easy family walk has the Burnett Monument at the summit – offering extra encouragement to youngsters to make it to the top. For the adults there are stunning views across Feughside and Lower Deeside. The walk is about four miles and is likely to take around 2 hours to complete – a perfect length to keep children interested and build up an appetite for a hearty winter meal, or perhaps a picnic at the top!
For something less strenuous, explore the picturesque Glen Tanar Estate. Ideal for families, this walk can be as long or as short as you want with a national nature reserve within the estate offering the chance to spot a selection of wonderful wildlife. Enjoy the crisp winter air as you admire the remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest.
Burn O’ Vat and the Culblean circuit, near Dinnet, is a great circular walk which includes the Vat – a deep water gouged bowl waiting to be explored. Leading though open countryside and picturesque pinewoods it will take around four hours to complete.
Enjoy some history and culture during a stroll around the grounds of Balmoral Castle. The circular trail around the estate takes in eight Royal cairns which were built to commemorate several Royal marriages, as well as the purchase of Balmoral and as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. At just over five miles in length it is easily managed by most ability levels.
You’re guaranteed to feel a sense of achievement after you’ve climbed to the peak of one of Royal Deeside’s mountains. Home to five of the six highest mountains in Scotland and the most extensive arctic mountain range in the UK, this region is a hill walker’s paradise.
A slightly shorter path up the ‘dark’ Lochnagar provides majestic scenery across the Royal Balmoral Estate. Its commanding position cannot be missed as it broods over Loch Muick at a height of 1154 metres. The route to Lochnagar begins with a walk around the beautiful loch where there is a small visitor’s centre along with a telescope to try and catch a glimpse of the red deer roaming on the estate. Winter is the perfect time to see the deer when they feed from lower levels. If the eight hour walk up Lochangar seems too strenuous – or if the weather is not fit – why not enjoy a more leisurely walk around the loch itself which has many variations and can be made longer or shorter to suit walkers of all abilities.
For the beginner “Munro-bagger”, Mount Keen is a long but straightforward climb. Set within in Glen Tanar Estate, the most easterly Munro in Scotland is also great for cyclists. The 14 mile round trip to the summit is a great way to climb your first Munro and take in the wonderful winter scenery.
Whether you want to stroll an easy country mile or so on level ground or get your leg muscles burning on some of Scotland’s highest mountains, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms.
Ballater Walking Festival in May is a major annual event www.royal-deeside.org.uk/RDnews/walkweek.htm
The Active Aboyne festival in September has a large number of hillwalking and outdoor activity eventswww.activeaboyne.co.uk/
Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust has developed dozens of paths and hill walking routes in Royal Deeside. www.cairngormsoutdooraccess.org.uk/ details over 50 low level walks from towns and villages and information of high level walks for experienced walkers. There are links to other local websites such as the North East Mountain Trust and The Cairngorm Club.
Bennachie the famous Donside Mountain Click Here to find out more.
A popular information website for walking in the Scottish Highland hills is walkhighlands. It has details of many Royal Deeside mountain walks www.walkhighlands.co.uk/cairngorms/braemar.shtml
You’ll also find a huge range of local walking maps and books in outlets throughout our area. Visitor Information Centres are a good place for vital local knowledge that might lead to some wonderful place you would not otherwise have found. In particular, look out for the “Hill Tracks in the Cairngorms National Park” leaflet produced in association with the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society, whose website at www.scotways.com is another treasure chest of information.
A list of forest walks – many through spectacular Scots Pine forests – are described on our forests page.
In winter and snow conditions if you are venturing into the mountains please consult the Scottish Avalanche Information Service homepage for up to date information at www.sais.gov.uk
For a detailed daily weather forecast for the Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms area provided by the Mountain Weather Information Service visit http://www.mwis.org.uk/eh.php