A stimulating walk on rough paths, through pine forest and over heather moorland. The distance and overall ascent are modest, but the muddy pathway, often over tree roots, can make for more effort than you might imagine. The fantastic views from Knock Saul more than compensate!
Duration: 3 hours.
Duration: 3 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport links nearby. Free car-park at walk start/end, just off the Suie Road at the top of the hill between Alford and Clatt. Spaces are limited.
Length: 7.400 km / 4.63 mi
Height Gain: 186 meter.
Height Loss: 186 meter.
Max Height: 415 meter.
Min Height: 338 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly rough paths in woodland and moorland. Likely to be muddy in many places.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: No farmland to concern the dog owner on this walk. Keep your dog under close control in the Whitehaugh car-park, near the Suie Road. You may encounter riders on horseback on forest road sections.
Refreshments: Options in Alford.
This is an enjoyable walk, mostly in conifer woodland of varying maturity, with some sections through heather moorland. The views from the return point at Knock Saul (412 m) are wonderful, taking in the patchwork of Aberdeenshire farmland and forests below you, then on to extensive vistas of more distant hilltops. The impressive panorama includes: the Bennachie and Menaway Hills in the east; Foudland and Tillymorgan to the north; the Tap o’ Noth and Ben Rinnes in the north-west; and the Deeside, Correen and Donside hills, leading the eye to the faraway Cairngorms to the south and south-west. This “there and back” route is based on a reversed final section of the Gordon Way, an 18.5 km way-marked linear route that runs from the Essons car park at the Bennachie Centre, near Chapel of Garioch, to the Suie Road, between Clatt and Alford. Unfortunately, the trail is no longer maintained. On this walk, a partly broken set of wooden steps is encountered at Waypoint 5, descending into the Den of Drumgown. Take care here! Particularly in the first 1,000 m, or so, in dense forest, the opportunities for fungi spotting are first class. There is a low stone cairn at the summit of Knock Saul, probably of ancient origin. You will also encounter old boundary stones in places on the walk, marking where the parishes of Leslie, Tullynessle and Forbes meet. At the beginning or end of the walk, we suggest that you walk or drive to a magnificent nearby viewpoint on the Suie Road, looking down to the countryside between Clatt and Rhynie, with the hugely impressive Tap o’Noth hill dominating. There are benches there to relax, perhaps have a picnic, and absorb the view! The Suie Road has been an important passage from north to south since mediaeval times, and probably before that.