This is an energetic 9 km hike with a reasonably demanding overall ascent of 333 m. Based on a section of the Gordon Way, there are some marvellous viewpoints along the way, including where a large area of forest has recently been felled.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: There is a Stagecoach #422 service between Insch and Alford that passes the start point. Check timetables. There is a small parking area at the walk start/end point.
Length: 9.220 km / 5.76 mi
Height Gain: 333 meter.
Height Loss: 333 meter.
Max Height: 409 meter.
Min Height: 195 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of grassy tracks, forest roads, and narrow paths, often with tree roots. Sections may be muddy.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and considerable overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead at start/end point on B992 road. Watch out for farm animals in the open pasture area near Waypoint 6.
Refreshments: Options in Alford and Insch.
This very scenic walk ascends the western side of the rural pass, known as Glenbrindy, that divides the Bennachie range from the Suie Hill range. The route starts at a waymarked point on the Gordon Way, near to Brindy Cottage, on the B992 between Auchleven (Premnay) and Keig. We immediately commence a fairly steep ascent up a path on a wide field border on Brindy Hill (the field is now planted with young conifers), where there are fine views back to the Menaway Hills and the western edge of the Bennachie massif. A little further up, on the now tree-planted slopes of Satter Hill, we pass the abandoned sheep-farming croft at Knowhead. Overall, the route is a mix of fairly open ground and conifer woodland of varying maturity, with the higher summit section passing through heather moorland. There is a trig point and picnic bench at the summit of Knock Saul (412 m), and also a low stone cairn, probably of ancient origin. The views from Knock Saul 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; the Howe of Alford to the south; 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-west. This modified “there and back” route is based on a section of the Gordon Way, an 18.5 km way-marked linear route initially supported by the Forestry Commission and Aberdeenshire Council, which runs from the Essons car park at the Bennachie Centre, near Chapel of Garioch, to the Suie Road, between Clatt and Alford. On our route we deviate from the waymarked route to make a partial loop at mid-level around Knock Saul to take in some particularly fine views of the Howe of Alford.