(046) Newtonhill-Burn of Muchalls Ramble (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
A good, there and back, coastal walk with a couple of diversions to take in fantastic views of the rugged coastline punctuated by rocky headlands, steep cliffs, and outstanding stone sea stacks, standing tall amongst the swirling waves.

Duration: 2.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach #7 bus service. Check timetable. Park in the Bettridge Sports Centre car-park at start/finish of walk.
Length: 7.430 km / 4.64 mi
Height Gain: 265 meter
Height Loss: 265 meter
Max Height: 80 meter
Min Height: 19 meter
Surface: Moderate. Some paths may be muddy after rain. Watch out for sharp brambles on the clifftop path near to the Burn of Muchalls return point.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Difficulty: Medium.
Dog Friendly: Yes. Must be on lead on public roads and around any cattle or sheep encountered.
Refreshments: Teacake Cafe, Newton Arms and Quoiters Bar in Newtonhill. The Stack Restaurant/Bar in Muchalls.


*** As of April 2021 we have a report that the path to Grim Haven bay (see Waypoints 10 and 11) is closed due to landslips. Also, at Waypoint 16, the waymarked path is meantime being directed around a building site. ***
This invigorating coastal walk, mid-way between Aberdeen and Stonehaven, provides some spectacular views of cliffs, headlands, and rocky sea stacks. Our original ambition had been for the route to reach Doonie Point, about 1.5 kilometres south of Muchalls village but, unfortunately, the footbridge over the Burn of Muchalls is no longer there, and the water level in the burn was too high for us! The walk starts and finishes in the lower part of Newtonhill. Now a commuter settlement, it was originally a fishing village known as Skateraw (Gaelic for “a row [of houses, presumably] on a rock”). The 19th C railway station above the village was named “Newtonhill” and so gradually that name took precedence. It is believed that the last thatched roof on an old fisher cottage was replaced in the mid 20th C. The old houses that remain have all been modified and extended but an old 18th C smokehouse still stands on Skateraw Road. The best views (and best access to the rugged cliffs and stony beaches) on the walk are achieved after passing through Muchalls. It is here that footage was recorded for the 1990 film “Hamlet”. Charles Dickens visited Muchalls and declared that the area was remarkably beautiful. Between 1849 and 1950 the village was served by the Muchalls Railway Station, catering for day-trippers from the city of Aberdeen. All that remains of the railway station is an intriguing “Peace Sign” monument, passed on the walk, that commemorates the end of the Great War in 1919. From the seashore here there is a smugglers cave, believed to be one mile long, and reaching Muchalls Castle. It is now boarded up, which may be just as well as it is reputed to be haunted by a “green lady”!

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

Thanks to Julie Graham for the following suggestions for enhancing the walk: https://t.ly/ePA8b

One thought on “(046) Newtonhill-Burn of Muchalls Ramble (Aberdeenshire)

  1. Great walk but I suggest a few edits / alternative routes for some additional fantastic views:

    (3) Through gap at stile and along field edge (57.02729; -2.14935) In 150 m, the grassy path leads to a stile and a gap in a fence, Go through the gap-
    Keeping to the field edge walk down towards the sea and continue parallel with the sea on your left, across the field. This is a good spot for seeing dolphins, albeit a good few meters out to sea so a pair of binoculars is handy. Keeping to the field edge cross into the next field and continue to follow close to the sea. The views of Muchalls and the sea stacks are spectacular from here. Follow the perimeter of the field up towards the railway viaduct – another view worth seeing – and continue back across the field with the railway line on your left until you reach (4) Silvers Bridge and continue.

    (11) Grim Haven beach (57.01648; -2.16210) After 800 m from the centre of Muchalls, having just passed some 2nd World War concrete blocks, you are looking down at Grim Haven beach from a narrow twisting path. It is up to you whether you go all the way down to the stony beach. The path looked very muddy the day we were there –
    This is a very steep and muddy path, but if you have the boots for it and the tide is out (check Muchalls tide times) it is well worth going down onto the beach and heading Right towards the rocks. This is a great spot for seal watching if you choose a comfortable rock to sit on. Again, if the tide is out you can continue Right and walk underneath some awesome stone arches. If you want to avoid returning the way you have come you can continue walking in this direction, but it does involve a bit of clambering over low level rocks. This will bring you out at the mouth of spectacular Dunnyfell. You can then follow the narrow rough path on your right that heads back up the cliff face (there is a bench near the top if you need to catch your breath) and continue to re-trace your footsteps back to just before the railway tunnel and point (12).

    (14) Burn of Muchalls (57.01228; -2.16450) Follow the path for 400 m until it leads down, past some ruined buildings on your left (old mill?) to the wooded slopes of the Burn of Muchalls.
    – take the rough path to your Right here and follow it through Mill O Muchalls hamlet. You will see a lovely pond on your right and the path takes you across a beautiful large stone bridge where the river torrents through. Pass the cottage on your left and follow the path to the left behind this cottage. This will take you back towards the sea edge, where you can continue Right and head down past the large concrete war bollards to Doonie point, or alternatively go Left and follow the narrow cliff edge path for views of the waterfall and “Ophelia’s pool”.
    The retrace your steps back through Mill O Muchalls hamlet to (14).

    PS. In addition to the Peace sign in Muchalls village, one other vestige of the old railway station still exists and that is the station masters house, where I now live.


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