An invigorating climb through mature pines to the summit of Creag Choinnich, overlooking Braemar, is rewarded by a fine array of mountain views. The route then drops lower to encircle the hill, while still offering some enchanting outlooks, particularly of the upper Dee Valley.
Duration: 3 hours.
Duration: 3 hours.
Transport/Parking: Regular Stagecoach bus service along Deeside to Braemar. Check timetables. Free parking at the Braemar Mews and Balnellan Road car-parks near the start/end of the walk.
Length: 6.840 km / 4.28 mi
Height Gain: 383 meter.
Height Loss: 383 meter.
Max Height: 524 meter.
Min Height: 335 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly on a waymarked and well maintained trail. The steep descent from the summit on a rough path between Waypoints 6 and 7 may be avoided by re-tracing your steps on the main summit path instead.
Child Friendly: Yes, 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: Options in Braemar. We can recommend The Bothy cafe on Invercauld Road where there are fine views of the Clunie Water gorge.
A walk in mature pine woods, with a vigorous initial section ascending to the summit of Creag Choinnich. At 538 m, it is one of the more modest hills surrounding Braemar. Nonetheless, the views from the top are fabulous – both near and far. In the northern aspect, Ben Avon, with its line of rugged granite tors dominates. To the south east, the pointed tip of majestic Lochnagar draws the eye, whilst to the south and west the river valleys of the Clunie and the Dee offer mesmerising mountain vistas. On the steep slopes of Creag Choinnich an annual hill race is run that reputedly dates back to 1064 when King Malcolm II set up a race to choose the fastest man to deliver his despatches. In Victorian times the hill race was included in the Braemar Highland Games, until a horrified Queen Victoria witnessed her ghillie spitting blood after winning the 1850 race. The event was suspended, and only resumed in the 21stC. Braemar sits on the eastern side of the Cairngorm National Park, the largest National Park in the UK, with 9 nature reserves, a diverse range of special natural environments, and a vast sub-arctic mountain plateau. In winter, the village of Braemar is one of the coldest settlements in the UK, and is also renown for the great variations in temperature in one day. For example, on the 30th September 2015, the maximum temperature was 24.0 °C and the minimum was -1.3 °C! Although remote, the Braemar area was a strategically important crossing point on the Elsick Mounth, an ancient trackway used by Picts and Romans. It was also an important place for the early kings of Scotland, with Kindrochit Castle first established as a wooden defensive structure and royal hunting lodge there in the 11thC. The 14thC remains of the later stone-built castle can be visited in Braemar village centre after the walk. Our route also passes close to Braemar Castle, constructed in 1628. It figured prominently in the 17thC and 18thC Jacobite uprisings, being attacked and burned in 1689. In 1715 the Earl of Mar travelled from London to launch the next Jacobite rebellion there. After 1745, the ruined castle was re-built as a Hanoverian garrison.