This gentle excursion into scenic Glen Avon belies the undeserved reputation of Tomintoul for bleak and austere landscapes. There is no doubt that this upland river valley experiences some harsh times in wintry weather, but at other times it is a sparkling and sublime landscape.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach bus services. Check timetables. Free public car-park off Main Street, SE of The Square.
Length: 7.690 km / 4.81 mi (note: the walk can be started at Waypoint 3, reducing the length by 2.9 km)
Height Gain: 190 meter.
Height Loss: 190 meter.
Max Height: 363 meter.
Min Height: 316 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Pavement, tarred minor road and unsurfaced farm/forest roads.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: Glen Avon Hotel, Richmond Arms Hotel, Old Station Cafe, Clocktower Restaurant.
This walk is a very pleasant and undemanding excursion into the scenic Glen Avon countryside on the southern outskirts of Tomintoul, which, at 345 m (1,132 ft), is said to be the highest village in the Scottish Highlands. The village, like many in the NE of Scotland, was a planned settlement, built to support the agricultural and social changes that swept over the country in the 18thC. With an attractive central square, sitting either side of the military road from Corgarff, in Strathdon, to Fort George, on the Moray Firth, it was laid out on a grid pattern in 1775 by the 4th Duke of Gordon. Nowadays much of the surrounding countryside is owned by the Glenlivet Estate, part of Crown Estate Scotland, who promote outdoor activities in the area, including walking. The village sits on the banks of the River Avon (pronounced locally as “an”), a significant tributary of the River Spey, which drains the NE area of the Cairngorm Mountains. Glen Avon was once described as follows – “Regarded from the point of view of river and mountain scenery, [it] is perhaps the most perfect glen in Scotland. For in the whole 38 miles, from its source above Loch Avon, to the Spey … every phase of highland landscape is presented … not the least attractive are those in the middle reaches, where the hills are friendly rather than fearsome, where groves of silver birches break and soften the valley side, where the alder dips its branches in the singing water, and where the oyster-catcher sweeps and cries above the shingle.” [attrib. Sir Henry Alexander, Lord Provost of Aberdeen, 1932-35]. It’s not surprising, therefore, that in 1860, when Queen Victoria passed through Tomintoul, she was entranced by the fine view over the River Avon, and up the Glen towards Ben Avon in the Cairngorms. That viewpoint is now called “The Queen’s View” and, happily, is a focal point on this consistently scenic walking route.