This is an undemanding walk that rewards with a visit to the beautiful waterfall in a wooded glade on the Water of Dess. The walk environment, from an historic Deeside village, mixes open farmland with mature pine forest. There are good views over Strathdee towards Banchory.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Typically, Stagecoach #201 to Banchory from Aberdeen, then #202 to Kincardine O’Neill. Check timetables. Easy parking on the main (N Deeside Road) street in Kincardine O’Neil.
Length: 7.180 km / 4.49 mi
Height Gain: 185 meter
Height Loss: 185 meter
Max Height: 100 meter
Min Height: 209 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly well maintained paths or forestry roads. The path to the waterfall may be slippy in wet conditions.
Child Friendly: Yes, but only if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: The Village Store in Kincardine O’Neil does excellent hot drinks, hot snacks, and sandwiches.
This is a delightful walk in the valley of the River Dee. The varied route passes through farmland and mature pine forest, with the beautiful Dess Waterfall as a striking focus at the mid-way point. From the old farm-town of Townhead there are marvellous views of Strathdee, towards Banchory. The walk starts and finishes at the historic ruin of the Church of St Mary in Kincardine O’Neil, the oldest village on Deeside. The present structure dates back to the 14th C but it is believed to have been a place of Christian worship from the 6th C. The village was, for centuries, an important river crossing place, on the ancient route over the Cairn O’Mount. King David 1st of Scotland forded the Dee here with his army in 1150, and in 1296, the 35,000 strong army of Edward 1st of England crossed here, and camped nearby, consuming all the village stores of food for the year ahead. Later, the ford was the direct drove route for cattle moving from northern Aberdeenshire to the markets at Crieff and Falkirk. From the 15th C to the 19th C Kincardine O’Neil held three fairs each year, culminating with the (St Bartholomew’s Day) Bartle Fair, at which many thousands of cattle were bought and sold. Apparently, the fair would attract peddlers from far and wide, who set up stalls in the streets and the Kirk yard. The fairs were accompanied by merry-making, often descending into drunken brawls, with the residents climbing onto their roofs to get a better view of the street fighting. In 1777, an effort to suppress the “cursing, lying, tricking, stealing, brawling, fighting and every indecency” was resisted by local residents who did well selling food and drink to the boisterous crowds. The village is a quiet place, by comparison, today!