A gently undulating walk in the pine and birch woods of the National Nature Reserve encircling Kinord Loch. Mid-way, the route diverts to the memorable gorge at Burn O’Vat. There are also interesting insights into the history of human habitation in the Dinnet area.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Regular Stagecoach bus service along Deeside, stops at Dinnet. Check timetables. Cairngorms National Park car-park at walk start/end point. Charges apply.
Length: 10.050 km / 6.28 mi
Height Gain: 137 meter.
Height Loss: 137 meter.
Max Height: 217 meter.
Min Height: 160 meter.
Surface: Moderate. All on well-maintained waymarked paths. Some sections are stony and/or affected by prominent tree roots. The entry to “The Vat” is on stepping stones which may be slippy.
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: Kinord Hotel in Dinnet, at walk start/end point. Options in Aboyne, Ballater and Tarland.
This is first and foremost a “nature walk”, which takes a gentle but extended circuit around the forested banks of Loch Kinord on Deeside, with an enthralling diversion to the huge Burn O’Vat stone pot, a geological oddity. The route is within the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve, part of the Cairngorms National Park. The Reserve extends 1166 hectares from the River Dee to Culbean Hill, and encompasses a wide range of habitats including dry heath, raised bog, woodland, and two lochs: Loch Kinord and Loch Davan. Due to its shallowness, light penetrates to the floor of Loch Kinord. Consequently, many species of aquatic plants thrive, and in the summer white water lilies bloom on the loch. We walked the route in July, when Blue Northern Damselflies were everywhere to be seen. A quick glance at the Ordnance Survey map reveals that a wealth of ancient sites pepper the landscape. Clearly this area has been an important place of human habitation since the ice sheets melted. During the circuit of the loch the route passes Crannog Island where an Iron Age defensive crannog housed a small community. Nearby is Castle Island where it is believed there was a defensive structure since at least the 11thC. During the Civil War in 1648, the Royalist-held castle was razed by an act of Parliament. On the shore close to Castle Island stands a 9th-century Pictish stone with a cross carved in intricate knot work. A little further away, between Loch Kinord and Loch Davan, there are the remains of an extensive prehistoric settlement. Archaeological examination has determined that the ancient settlement was enclosed by a wall and comprised eighteen structures, ten or more hut circles, cairns, walls and rows of placed stones, two earth-houses, and a chambered enclosure. At the mid-point in the walk, the Burn O’Vat Visitors Centre makes for an interesting diversion before entering the fascinating Burn O’Vat gorge itself.