(035) Pitfichie-River Don Woodlands Circular (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
A mostly easy ramble in the very scenic valley of the River Don, south of the Bennachie range of hills. There is a short section in Craigton Wood where the path is a little overgrown. Paradise Wood is an historic designed landscape, notable for the size and variety of conifers.

Duration: 2.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport links within easy walking distance. There is a small but wide access drive to Paradise Woods at the start of the walk. It is likely that you can park here.
Length: 7.160 km / 4.48 mi
Height Gain: 124 meter
Height Loss: 124 meter
Max Height: 143 meter
Min Height: 96 meter
Surface: Mostly on good paths and forestry roads. At the start, the path may be very muddy. On the section between Waypoints 5 and 6, the path can be indistinct and overgrown.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance. Please ensure that children stay on the path in Paradise Wood in order to protect the environment.
Difficulty: Medium.
Dog Friendly: Yes, with qualifications. From April to July, in Paradise Wood, dogs should be kept on a short lead, otherwise there is a risk they will be disturbing ground-nesting birds such as dippers and sandpipers, inhibiting successful breeding. On lead on public roads and near to any farm livestock.  Also, on lead around Waypoint 2, near Milldowrie Farm and farm-house.
Refreshments: Grant Arms in Monymusk, if open. Options in Kemnay.

*Note: Paradise Wood is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) [see below]. Please ensure that you walk responsibly, in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. In order to minimise your impact on the environment please keep to the path, and ensure that children and dogs also keep to the path.

Description
This is a very pleasant and scenic ramble along the banks of the River Don in the valley between Millstone Hill on the Bennache range, and Pitfichie Hill and Cairn William on the Menaway range. The first section of the route explores the very special woodland environment that is Paradise Wood*. Here, you are walking in an historic designed landscape, which also provides a valuable wildlife habitat. The size and variety of conifers growing in Paradise Wood is particularly notable. The Monymusk Estate was acquired by the Grant family in 1712 and Archibald Grant was made factor on his 20th birthday in 1716. Over the following 62 years Archibald, later 2nd Baronet, transformed the estate into one of the best examples of 18th century agricultural improvements. In the course of laying out a large formal landscape he planted over 48 million trees, including at Paradise Wood. See: http://bit.ly/3eStbkW . After Paradise Wood, and before Craigton Wood, there is an opportunity to enjoy the best views of the River Don and the surrounding hills and farmland. At the mid-point on the walk we catch a glimpse, across the River Don, of the “Place of Tilliefoure”, which started life as a small fortified house for the Earldom of Mar. It originates from the 16th century, although it enjoyed a major restoration and extension in 1884. Eventually, the lands passed to the Gordon family. See: https://bit.ly/3eTp34t. At the beginning and end of the walk you will enjoy passing Paradise Cottage, where there is an interesting garden with an old telephone box, extensive topiary, garden sculptures and an old railway carriage.

SSSI Extract

See: https://apps.snh.gov.uk/sitelink-api/v1/sites/1271/documents/3

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

 

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