The focal point of this moderate walking excursion amongst fertile Garioch farming country is the exhilarating view from the summit of Barra Hill, redolent with the memories of historical drama over the ages. There is also an interesting visit to an old country church-yard.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach service 35 from/to Aberdeen. Check timetable. Parking available in cul-de-sac on Millbank Road at start/finish of walk.
Length: 7.190 km / 4.49 mi
Height Gain: 167 meter
Height Loss: 167 meter
Max Height: 189 meter
Min Height: 85 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly a mix of grass fields with no set path and minor tarred roads. Note: you are likely to encounter farm livestock on this walk.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but dogs may struggle with the many stiles. Must be on lead on public roads and around any cattle or sheep encountered. Note: you are likely to encounter farm livestock on this walk.
Refreshments: Check out options in and around Oldmeldrum.
Barra is a low hill with a marvellous view of the Bennachie range to the south, and sweeping open views of the fertile Garioch farmland all around. After setting out from a convenient spot on the outskirts of Oldmeldrum, the route passes a chair-shaped stone, previously situated on Barra Hill, and reputedly used as a resting place by Robert the Bruce during the Battle of Barra. The walk then ascends via a small wood to pasture land on the slopes of the hill. Stiles are conveniently placed in order to cross field boundaries as you make your ascent. Upon reaching the summit area you will immediately discern the impressive remains of three grass-covered levels of tiered earth and stone ramparts. Barra Hill is, in fact, a remarkable example of an Iron Age fort. Archaeological excavations have uncovered four prior phases of human activity: 1) early Prehistoric, 2) Neolithic to mid Iron Age, 3) late Prehistoric, 4) Pictish and Medieval. The slopes of the hill also show evidence of pre-modern rig and furrow farming practice. Historical accounts suggest that the Earl of Comyn’s supporters camped on the hill-top in May 1308 before their bloody rout the next day at the hands of Robert the Bruce’s kinsmen, during Bruce’s savage military campaign to take over the kingship of Scotland. The middle section of our route descends to Bourtie Kirk on the Inverurie side of the hill. The present church building has an unusual pyramidal shape, and dates from 1806. Christian worship at this rural spot is believed to date back 800 years. The earliest gravestone discovered here is from the 16th Century. The final section of the walk returns on very quiet minor rural roads to Oldmeldrum. At all times, there are fine open views of rolling farmland to enjoy.