(116) Fochabers-Whiteash Hill-Winding Walks (Moray)

Route Summary
A very pleasant and sheltered walk in mature woodland. There are some good views and an opportunity to picnic at a “secret” lochan. There are a couple of historical curiosities along the way – a laird’s memorial monument, and the supposed grave of a “tinker king”.

Duration: 2 hours.

 

Route Overview
Duration: 2 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach operate a frequent bus service between Elgin and Buckie. Check driver will drop you off at the Winding Walks. Paid parking at walk start/end point (£2 per day, or less, at March 2020)
Length: 5.890 km / 3.68 mi
Height Gain: 193 meter.
Height Loss: 193 meter.
Max Height: 250 meter.
Min Height: 87 meter.
Surface: Nearly all on good forest roads. Final Winding Walks section on a path that may be muddy in places. **The Peep’s View path (between waypoints 10 and 12) will be closed for at least a week from 17th March 2020. Carry straight on at Waypoint 10, directly to Waypoint 12 instead. **
Difficulty: Easy/Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, keep dogs under close control at all times.
Refreshments: Options in and around Fochabers.

Description
This is a good woodland walk, mostly in a mature pinewood with open spacing, and some mature broad-leafed trees. The Winding Walks name specifically applies to a wooded gorge with some large trees planted in the 19thC. The recreational paths here are long-standing and formed part of the landscaped policies of the Gordon-Lennox estate at Fochabers. On our route we descend into the wooded gorge in the final section of the walk but it would be readily possible to extend the walk to take in more of theses “winding” paths if you so wished. The Winding Walks forest is popular with mountain-bikers but our route is mostly separate from the cycle trails. On the outward section we steadily ascend Whiteash Hill, passing by the small but pretty Longhowe Loch along the way, where there is a handy picnic bench. Nearing the summit there are open views down to, and across, the Moray Firth. On a clear day you will easily pick out the Caithness coastline, and the conical shape of Morven, more than 80 kms away. At this high return point on the route there is a useful information board and an imposing and unusual stone monument, built in 1887 as a memorial for Frances Harriet Grenville, wife of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 6th Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Descending on the western side of the hill, the route passes a curious cairn of stones known as Ranald’s Grave. Reputedly, Ranald was a “king of tinkers” and the stone cairn marks the spot where he was summarily executed in his own camp for highway robbery. The cairn is on a hillside which overlooks the Old King’s Highway road between Aberdeen and Inverness. The final focal point, before the lush and atmospheric Winding Walks gorge, is Peep’s Viewpoint, where there is a charming old wooden gazebo overlooking the village of Fochabers.

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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