(103) Kincardine O’Neil-Hill of Dess Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
Walking from an historic Deeside village, the route is mainly through mixed open farmland. From the higher points on the route there are fine views down to the Dee Valley, and of some prominent hilltops, principally Clachnaben, Mt. Battock, Mt. Keen, and Mortlich.

Duration: 2 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2 hours.
Transport/Parking: Typically, Stagecoach #201/#202 to Banchory from Aberdeen, then #202 to Kincardine O’Neil. Check timetables. Easy parking on the main (N Deeside Road) village street.
Length: 6.020 km / 3.76 mi
Height Gain: 120 meter.
Height Loss: 120 meter.
Max Height: 204 meter.
Min Height: 94 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of tarred minor road and good grassy tracks. We believe the walk is suitable for off-road mobility scooters.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes. On lead on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: The Village Store in Kincardine O’Neil does excellent hot drinks, hot snacks, and sandwiches. Otherwise, options in Aboyne and Banchory.

This is a pleasant and undemanding walk in a mixed rural environment on Deeside, with a final section along the River Dee itself. There are splendid views throughout. The walk starts and finishes at the historic ruin of the Church of St Mary in Kincardine O’Neil, the oldest village on Deeside. The present structure dates back to the 14thC but it is believed to have been a place of Christian worship from the 6thC. The route soon heads gently uphill on a section of the Old Military Road that ran from Fochabers to Fettercairn, completed under the direction of General Wade’s deputy, Major William Caulfeild, in 1761. From the highest point, on the Dess Ridge, the route gradually descends to the Dee riverbank and then back to the village. Kincardine O’Neil was, for centuries, an important river crossing place, on the ancient route over the Cairn O’Mount. King David 1st of Scotland forded the Dee here with his army in 1150, and in 1296, the 35,000 strong army of Edward 1st of England crossed here, and camped nearby, consuming all the village stores of food for the year ahead. Later, the ford was the direct drove route for cattle moving from northern Aberdeenshire to the markets at Crieff and Falkirk. From the 15thC to the 19thC Kincardine O’Neil held three fairs each year, culminating with the (St Bartholomew’s Day) Bartle Fair, at which many thousands of cattle were bought and sold. Apparently, the fair would attract peddlers from far and wide, who set up stalls in the streets and the Kirk yard. The fairs were accompanied by merry-making, often descending into drunken brawls, with the residents climbing onto their roofs to get a better view of the street fighting. In 1777, an effort to suppress the “cursing, lying, tricking, stealing, brawling, fighting and every indecency” was resisted by local residents who did well selling food and drink to the boisterous crowds. The village is a quiet place, by comparison, today! Useful links: http://www.kincardineoneil.co.uk/index.html and http://www.deesideway.org

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

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