(040) Forest of Deer-Loudon Stone Circle Loop (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is easy walking on a gently undulating rural route passing through field and forest. There is historical interest along the way from Neolithic and Pictish times, and an insight into the foibles and indulgences of the landed nobility in Victorian times.

Duration: 2.75 hours.

 

Route Overview
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Transport/Parking: The nearest public transport is the Stagecoach bus services passing through Mintlaw to/from Fraserburgh, e.g. #67 and #68. Check timetable. It would be a 2.65 km walk from your drop-off point on the A952 to the start of the walk. There is a small parking area on the opposite side of the road from the churchyard at the start of the walk.
Length: 9.150 km / 5.72 mi
Height Gain: 143 meter
Height Loss: 143 meter
Max Height: 120 meter
Min Height: 70 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly good forest roads and minor public roads.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance.
Difficulty: Medium.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead near to livestock, and on public roads.
Refreshments: The Fishie Pub in Fetterangus. Options in Mintlaw.

Description
This walk offers some interesting contrasts. There are sections surrounded by thick swathes of conifer plantation, whilst in other sections there are open rural views over rolling countryside, interspersed with dry-stone walls and beech hedges. A sense of history accompanies you on this walk at the Forest of Deer in deepest Buchan – starting with a Pictish symbol stone in Fishie’s Old Kirkyard at the start-point, then a Victorian observatory built so that the Laird of Pitfour could watch his racehorses train and run, and a difficult to find, hidden stone circle to capture the imagination (can you picture our ancient ancestors dragging those huge stones to the chosen spot?). After checking out the very weathered and damaged Pictish stone, the next point of interest is the Drinnie’s Wood Observatory. In summer months, the observatory is open and you may climb to the top to take in the views. This octagonal observatory, built in 1845 by Admiral George Ferguson, fifth laird of Pitfour, gave him an uninterrupted view of his estate and to view his racehorses. We hope, using our instructions, that you will find the elusive Loudon Stone Circle. As there is no signage close-by there are reports that many walkers give up on finding the grassy clearing in deep forest occupied by the very imposing stone circle. It has been noted that it is a classic Buchan variant of the recumbent stone circle configuration, on a low bank, on to which the huge standing stones had been dragged and levered into position. Although only the lichen-encrusted recumbent, west flanker and two other stones remain standing, this green, mossy, circle is a special place that may cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end, in a good way!

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

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