(139) Glen Tanar – Gairney Bridge Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is a good walk in old pine forest and open farmland close to the banks of the fast-flowing Water of Tanar, and within the special natural environment of Glen Tanar, a varied and scenic national nature reserve that lies within the Cairngorms National Park.

Duration: 3 hours.


Route Overview
Duration: 3 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport nearby. The Glen Tanar Braeloine visitor centre and car-park is up the Glen Tanar Road, off the S Deeside Road, near Aboyne. Pay parking at the NNR car-park at the start/end of the walk. (£3 in 2020).
Length: 9.500 km / 5.94 mi
Height Gain: 210 meter.
Height Loss: 210 meter.
Max Height: 234 meter.
Min Height: 160meter.
Surface: Moderate. Good paths, forest roads and farm tracks.
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: Options in Aboyne.

This is a good leg-stretching forest walk in open, mature pine woods, but with a long and satisfying section in farmland overlooking Glen Tanar House and the wider valley. The fast-flowing Water of Tanar is crossed twice on old stone bridges at very scenic spots. At the beginning and in the final sections, the route follows the Firmounth Road, an ancient drover’s road which crosses the Mounth, an old route over the high hills between Aberdeenshire and Angus, connecting Deeside with Glen Esk. The main section on the early part of the route takes the Queen’s Road, now a farm track, running gently downhill in pasture-land above Glen Tanar House and Equine Centre. The wonderful open views were famously enjoyed by Queen Victoria when visiting the estate. Dropping down towards the Water of Tanar, the route then skirts the pretty tree-lined Trout Loch. After walking deep into the forest, at the mid-section on the route, we cross two rapidly flowing watercourses in short order: the Water of Tanar and the Water of Gairney, a tributary. The next point of interest is the Knockie Viewpoint overlooking the 3rd largest area of Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Heading down the old Firmounth Road from there, we arrive at the historic St Lesmo’s Chapel before returning to the start-point over a very photogenic single stone arch bridge. Glen Tanar is designated by Scottish Natural Heritage as a national nature reserve and part of the area is publicly owned. Glen Tanar lies within the Cairngorms National Park and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Glen was historically part of the lands of the Marquis of Huntly. In 1865 the estate was bought by William Cunliffe Brooks, an English MP, barrister and merchant banker who initiated a major programme of improvements including building a large house, St Lesmo’s Chapel, many estate buildings, bridges and landscaped policies. In 1905 the estate was bought by George Coats, who became Baron Glentanar, owner of the Paisley based thread manufacturer J & P Coats Ltd. The estate remains in the ownership of his descendants. For more info, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Tanar

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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s