(115) Dunecht Policies and Barmekin Hill (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This walk combines an enjoyable mix of landscapes with an historical and architectural interest. The walk progresses through the grounds of an impressively large and flamboyant mansion house onto mixed farmland before climbing to a marvellous viewpoint on an Iron-Age hill-fort.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport nearby. There is limited parking on the hard verge at the walk start/end point.
Length: 9.270 km / 5.79 mi
Height Gain: 239 meter.
Height Loss: 239 meter.
Max Height: 269 meter.
Min Height: 103 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of tarred roads, estate roads and paths. The section up and over the Barmekin Hill is much rougher and likely to be very muddy in places.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes. Keep your dog under close control on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: Jaffs Bar/Restaurant in Dunecht. Options in Westhill.

Description
This walk enjoys a stimulating mix of rural environments, with the route leading through the landscaped policies of a large Victorian mansion house, the surrounding mixed farmland, and a much wilder and more elemental ascent of the heather-clad Barmekin Hill, where there are impressive remains of an ancient hill-fort. At a fairly early stage, the route passes Dunecht House, a category A listed mansion house set within some 1,700 acres of designed landscape. The extensive grounds, including gardens, woodland, parkland and lochs, are included on the prestigious Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The barony of Echt had been in the hands of the Forbes family since 1469 and the original mansion house was built in 1705. The Grecian inspired replacement building was commissioned in 1820 by William Forbes, who employed the notable Aberdeen City Architect, John Smith, to undertake the design. In 1845 the property was bought by Lord Lindsay, later the 25th Earl of Crawford and the 8th Earl of Balcarres, with the proceeds of his family’s wealth from Lancashire coal. By 1859 the house was extended by architect Smith’s son. In the following decade a huge chapel and large library were both built in the then fashionable ‘Lombardic’ style. Next, passing through a small private golf course, the walk skirts a large and scenic ornamental loch, before a section on minor roads through the farmland neighbouring the Dunecht Estate. For us, however, the focal point on the route is the section up and over the Barmekin of Echt hill. Here, there are the remains of what must have been a very impressive prehistoric hill-fort, comprising 5 huge concentric stone and earth ramparts surrounding the summit. The panoramic views from the top are extensive and, taking that alongside the steep and fairly uniform slopes of the hill, it is easy to imagine why it made such a superb defensive location.

Links:
Photos from walk
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Wikiloc

 

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