A fairly easy ramble in the Howe of Cromar, well known for its beautiful rolling patchwork of fields and woodlands set against a mountain backdrop to the West. The key historical point of interest on the route is the ancient “souterrain” known as the Culsh Earth House.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Infrequent Stagecoach bus options. Check timetables. There is a small rough-surfaced car-park at the walk start/end point.
Length: 7.180 km / 4.49 mi
Height Gain: 134 meter.
Height Loss: 134 meter.
Max Height: 205 meter.
Min Height: 144 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of good woodland paths and tarred surfaces. Some sections may be muddy after wet weather.
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: We can recommend Angie’s Cafe and the Commercial Hotel in Tarland Square. Other options: Aberdeen Arms, and Tarland Pharmacy and Coffee Shop.
This pleasant rural walk, in an extended figure of eight loop, happily mixes mature pine and birch woodland in Muirton Wood with open farmland. There are a number of points of historical interest along the way to complement the fine views on all sides of the Howe of Cromar, Mount Keen, Lochnagar, and Morven Hill. These views are best enjoyed from the Sun Seat, a recently built community initiative comprised of a substantial stone edifice on the hillside east of Muirton Wood, about 2 km into the walk. Not far from here, we pass a converted “horse mill”, with the circular stone platform for the horses to walk around whilst driving the mill wheels still visible at the rear of the now private residence. Next, at the return point on the route, we visit the Culsh Earth House (or “Souterrain”), a well-preserved stone-built underground passage, 14 m in length, which may be around 2,000 years old and is most probably an ancient storage cellar for grain and other agricultural produce. It is likely that it would have sat beside, or was connected to, an Iron Age roundhouse farmstead. On the return leg we visit the old walled garden, now a community asset, at the “fermtoun” of Oldtown of Kincraigie, where there are old-style straw beehives in alcoves on the wall, built for that purpose. Re-gaining Muirton Wood, and after encountering a scenic corner on the Tarland golf course, we pass Alastrean House, now a care home, but built as a residence by the tragic land-owning MacRobert family, who lost three sons in flying incidents before and during WWII. If arriving by car from Aberdeen on the B9119 try not to miss the “Queen’s View” viewpoint on your left as you enter the Howe. There is a small car-park across the road. The village of Tarland itself has a fine old Square with some buildings dating back around 300 years.