This is a pleasant walk in a mixed rural landscape on Deeside. The ascent from the river to the old grazing pastures on the ridge of the Hill of Dess is gradual. There are good views throughout, and many historical associations.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Frequent Stagecoach bus service along Deeside. Check timetables. On-street, or small car-park near the village hall, off The Spalings road.
Length: 7.550 km / 4.72 mi.
Height Gain: 163 meter.
Height Loss: 163 meter.
Max Height: 204 meter.
Min Height: 94 meter.
Surface: Moderate. On good paths and tracks. Good walking surfaces throughout and some sections have walking posts to assist route-finding.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead on public roads and near to farm animals.
Refreshments: Freshly made sandwiches in village shop. Also, newly opened cake shop across the road.
This walk, in an elongated figure of eight, provides a range of country and riverside environments to enjoy in scenic Deeside. 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. This walking route takes in a number of old roads, starting with Gallowhill Road, its purpose deriving from Medieval times when every feudal baron was required to erect a gibbet (gallows) for the execution of male criminals, and sink a well or pit, for the drowning of females! Soon after, the route follows a short section of the Old Deeside Road, now a farm track, which dates to before the great agricultural improvements that started in the 1700’s. It ran from the Hardgate in Aberdeen westwards. Returning to the village, the route down Dee Street to the river is part of an old cattle droving road, leading to a place where the river could be forded. This 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. Later, the ford was the direct drove route for cattle moving from Aberdeenshire to the markets at Crieff and Falkirk. In more modern times, a row-boat ferry operated (until 1937) a little way upstream. Leaving the riverside and ascending the slopes of the Hill of Dess, wide-ranging views open up as the route arrives at an extensive grassy area with a patchwork of rough fields surrounded by dry-stone walls. Here, the path follows another old road, a “green lane” between the stone dykes, probably associated with the droving route over the River Dee. The route then meets 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. This old track becomes a tarred minor road as it descends back to Kincardine O’Neil. See: http://www.kincardineoneil.co.uk/index.html