(079) Bellabeg-Doune of Invernochty Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
An easy walk in the scenic Strathdon valley, with great views and points of historical interest to enjoy. This hill farming area, at the edge of the Grampian Mountains, forms part of the Cairngorms National Park, and has been a vital passageway for people since Pictish times.

Duration: 2 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2 hours.
Transport/Parking: There is a very limited Stagecoach #219 bus service to Bellabeg from Alford. Check timetables. Park in the small car-park at the walk start/end point (near the entrance to the access road to Lost farm).
Length: 5.980 km / 3.74 mi
Height Gain: 149 meter.  Height Loss: 149 meter.
Max Height: 340 meter.  Min Height: 282 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A fair amount of walking on tarred road surfaces. Otherwise, good paths and forest tracks. Not suitable for off-road mobility scooters as at March 2022 due to fallen trees between Waypoints 13 and 16.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Difficulty: Easy.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: The Goodbrand and Ross Tearoom in Corgarff is about 7 miles away on the A944. Otherwise, options in Alford.

This is a very pleasant ramble around and about the hamlet of Bellabeg in the remote area of Upper Donside known as Strathdon, where hill farming and forestry are the main local industries. There are fine open views to appreciate throughout most of the walk. Bellabeg, once called Invernochty, sits at the confluence of the Water of Nochty, running down from the Ladder Hills, and the River Don, flowing from its source in the mountainous Ben Avon moorlands. De-population has been a feature of Strathdon for the last 150 years, with the term “Land of the Lost” playing on the name of Lost Farm, near Bellabeg. Each year, in late August, the Lonach Highlanders gather here in highland dress to celebrate their neighbourly cohesion and the history of their community. Their annual “march” through the parish is famously punctuated with drams of whisky at friendly stops along the way! Our more sober route makes an early visit to the churchyard of the impressive Strathdon Kirk where there are some interesting early gravestones and a curious mausoleum in Egyptian style. A diversion onto a bluff overlooking Bellabeg in the Bunzeach Forest provides not only a wonderful view over the settlement and Glen Nochty but also the opportunity to participate in the Cairngorms National Park “Photo-Posts” Project which aims to record changing landscapes over the seasons at a number of locations in the Park. The next point of interest is crossing Poldullie Bridge, a rare and captivating example of a single arch stone bridge, constructed in 1715. Unlike many of its neighbours, the bridge survived the catastrophic “Muckle Spate” of August 1829. Rising through mature pine forest, the walk then achieves a fine viewpoint over the upper Strathdon valley and the high moors above Deeside, to the south. Near the end of the walk we pass the Doune of Invernochty, the massive earthwork “motte and bailey” remains of a 12thC Norman fortress.

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

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