(142) Bellabeg-Colquhonnie Castle-Poldullie Bridge Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
After a steep initial ascent this is an undemanding walk in the scenic Strathdon valley with points of historical interest to enjoy. This area of forests and hill farms forms part of the Cairngorms National Park, and has been a vital passageway for people since Pictish times.

Duration: 2.25 hours.

 

Route Overview
Duration: 2.25 hours
Transport/Parking: There is a very limited Stagecoach #219 bus service to Bellabeg from Alford. Check timetables. Park in the small car-park at the walk start/end point (near the entrance to the access road to Lost farm).
Length: 6.380 km / 3.99 mi
Height Gain: 223 meter.
Height Loss: 223 meter.
Max Height: 399 meter.
Min Height: 272 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly hard-surfaced tracks and minor roads. Two short grassy sections may be overgrown in summer months.
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: The Goodbrand and Ross Tearoom in Corgarff is about 7 miles away on the A944. Otherwise, options in Alford.

Description
This is a varied and interesting walk around and about the small village of Bellabeg in the scenic but remote area of Upper Donside known as Strathdon, where hill farming and forestry are the main local industries. After a steep ascent to a winding forest road in the ‘Bellabeg Plantation’ above the settlement, there are great views of the Don Valley below you, and a panorama of surrounding hills and countryside. The route then descends to achieve a vantage point above the river valley where the ruined remains of Colquhonnie Castle stand, between the former Colquhonnie Hotel and the famous Lonach Hall. The castle is a ruined 16thC tower house associated with the 1st Lord Elphinstone, and the Forbeses of Towie. Each year, in late August, the Lonach Highlanders gather here in highland dress to celebrate their neighbourly cohesion and the history of their community. Their annual “march” through the parish is famously punctuated with drams of whisky at friendly stops along the way! After crossing the valley and crossing the Don on a footbridge, the route heads west to by-pass the village on the way to the Poldullie Bridge, a rare and captivating example of a single arch stone bridge, constructed in 1715. Unlike many of its neighbours, the bridge survived the catastrophic “Muckle Spate” of August 1829. Near the end of the walk we pass the Doune of Invernochty, the massive earthwork “motte and bailey” remains of a 11thC Norman fortress. Bellabeg, once called Invernochty, sits at the confluence of the Water of Nochty, running down from the Ladder Hills, and the River Don, flowing from its source in the mountainous Ben Avon moorlands. De-population has been a feature of Strathdon for the last 150 years, with the term “Land of the Lost” playing on the name of Lost Farm, near Bellabeg.

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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