(023) Pitmedden House-Tolquhon Castle Circular (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
An easy walk through farmland and woodland with little appreciable overall ascent, and on mostly good paths. The route starts and finishes at the National Trust for Scotland owned Pitmedden House & Gardens. However, the focal point of this walk is the splendid ruin of 16th Century Tolquhon Castle maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

Duration: 3 hours (including castle visit)

Route Overview
Duration: 3 hours (including castle visit).
Transport/Parking: There is an infrequent Stagecoach bus service from Ellon to Pitmedden. Check timetables. Pitmedden House NTS car-park (charges apply for non-members).
Length: 6.430 km / 4.02 mi
Height Gain: 80 meter
Height Loss: 80 meter
Max Height: 120 meter
Min Height: 70 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly good grassy paths. A short section on a narrow tarred access road at Raitshill.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance.
Difficulty: Easy.
Dog Friendly: Yes. On lead on public roads and near farm livestock.
Refreshments: Excellent cafe in Pitmedden House.

This is a very pleasant and easy walk amongst the gentle rolling fields and hedgerows of the Formartine area of Aberdeenshire. The focal point on the route is, of course, the ruin of Tolquhon Castle, built in the 1580s and highly regarded for its visual attraction and completeness. During the summer months the castle and grounds are open to the public for a modest charge and are well sign-posted by Historic Environment Scotland. We strongly advise a visit (see Waypoint 11 for entry information). From the 1200s Tolquhon was one of the main residences of the Thanage of Formartine. In 1390 the Thanage was granted by Robert III to Sir Thomas Preston, who built the Preston Tower in the early 1400s, part of which still stands. The later, much bigger castle was built to emphasise the wealth and status of William Forbes, the 7th Laird of Tolquhon. A contemporary inscription on the grand gatehouse tells us about the building of the castle: “Al this warke excep the auld tour was begun be William Forbes 15 Aprile 1584 and endit be him 20 Ocober 1589”. The 11th Laird lost the family fortune by backing the disastrous scheme for a Scottish colony on the Darien peninsula in Panama, and the castle was sold in 1716. It remained inhabited as a farmhouse into the 1800s, but a painting from the 1850s shows how it had already fallen into disrepair. At the end of the walk there is the option to take in the gardens and museum of farming life at Pitmedden House maintained by the National Trust for Scotland. The gardens are recreated in the formal 18th Century Renaissance style. In summer, the floral borders and fruit gardens are also a delight, whilst the museum is an interesting and important record of agricultural life in former times.

Photos from walk
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on OutdoorActive
Access Walk on OSMaps
Access Walk on Wikiloc

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