(130) Glenbuchat-Meikle Firbriggs Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
After a scenic walk-in along the Glenbuchat valley, there is a stiff climb up a heather-clad hillside to the Meikle and Little Firbriggs summits where there are wonderful views of the Glen below, and panoramic views to further afield, including towards the Cairngorms.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport nearby. Small parking area at walk start/end point.
Length: 7.650 km / 4.78 mi
Height Gain: 319 meter.
Height Loss: 319 meter.
Max Height: 557 meter.
Min Height: 258 meter.
Surface: Moderate. The first 2 km are on a very quiet minor tarred road. Mostly good land-rover track after that. Small section on new but overgrown grassy path near end.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but dogs on lead at all times (public road, then open hill with grazing sheep).
Refreshments: Options at Kildrummy Inn and in Alford.

Description
After an enjoyable walk up the very quiet and scenic Culstruphan Road in Glenbuchat, the route turns at Beltimb Croft, where there is the ruin of an old lime kiln, to make a fairly steep climb on heather moorland to the ridge on the northern side of the glen. Here, you have the option to deviate left to the Creag an Eunan summit which adds about 2.5 km to the overall route length. Turning right to the Meikle Firbriggs top, there are wonderful views of the Glenbuchat valley below you and to distant hilltops. We identified Mount Shade, Clachnaben, Peter Hill, Morven, Mount Battock, Mount Keen, Lochnagar, Beinn A’Bhuird, and Ben Avon. Moving on, at the summit of Little Firbriggs, you now have a good view of the Buck of Cabrach and across to the Bennachie range. Remote Glenbuchat was once home to a diverse community of 500 people, living off the upland landscape in a mostly self-sufficient and inter-dependant way, and having little need for the outside world. As the information board at Glenbuchat Castle puts it – “Before you stands the Perfect Glen, so called because it held all that was needed for life. Lairds and smugglers, farmers and fiddlers, poachers and preachers all thrived here”. The people mostly lived in little settlements called “clachans” spread throughout the glen. A clachan is a type of small traditional settlement, invariably found on poorer land, and common in the more remote areas of Scotland up until the early 20thC. Up to 1850 there were at least seven main clachan settlements in Glenbuchat. In 1902, the Aberdeen Free Press reported that five of these were still occupied. Today, the clachans are gone, but a modern upland agricultural community still thrives in the glen, with the population a tenth of what it was at one time. Before or after the walk we suggest you visit nearby Glenbuchat Castle, for many years associated with the Gordon family. The ruined castle dates back to the 16thC, and is currently unsafe, but it is possible to walk in the surrounding grassy area to take in the fine views, and imagine the castle’s past glories and intrigues. Above the lintel on the door of the castle you can still make out the inscription – “nocht on earth remainis bot faime”. This is taken to be a fitting epitaph for the eventual decline of the Gordon dynasty. For more information about Glenbuchat’s history, see: http://www.glenbuchatheritage.com/index.asp .

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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