Leaving the rolling farmland behind, the mid-section of this varied walk involves a steady climb through mature conifers to an open viewpoint over Tarland, the Howe of Cromar, and a wider mountain landscape to the South and West.
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Transport/Parking: Infrequent Stagecoach bus options. Check timetables. There is a small parking area at the walk start/end point.
Length: 9.000 km / 5.63 mi
Height Gain: 291 meter.
Height Loss: 291 meter.
Max Height: 387 meter.
Min Height: 148 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of well-maintained paths, forest roads and minor tarred roads.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep on lead on public roads and around farm livestock.
Refreshments: If open, options in Tarland include Angie’s Cafe, Commercial Hotel, Aberdeen Arms.
This is a very enjoyable route with a stiff ascent, taking in farmland and forest in the Howe of Cromar, well known for its beautiful rolling patchwork of fields and woodlands set against a breathtaking mountain backdrop to the West. There are very few points on the track where there are not extremely fine views towards Mount Keen, (“Dark”) Lochnagar, and the distant Cairngorms. Much closer, and ever-present, are constantly changing views of the imposing “whale’s back” mass of Morven Hill (“A’ Mhòr Bheinn”, in Gaelic), immortalised by Lord Byron: “…when I rov’d a young Highlander o’er the dark heath, And climb’d thy steep summit, oh Morven of snow …”. In the first section of the route we pass Alastrean House, now a care home, but built as a residence by the tragic land-owning MacRobert family, who lost three sons in flying incidents before and during WWII. One of the best viewpoints on the route is the Sun Seat, a community initiative comprised of a substantial stone edifice on the hillside east of Muirton Wood, concluding the first quarter of the walk. Not far from here, we pass a converted “horse mill”, with the circular stone platform for the horses to walk around whilst driving the mill wheels still visible at the rear of the now private residence. On the descent from a high vantage point over Tarland above West Pett Farm, the walk overlooks the former country mansion of Douneside House, set in open parkland and gardens. Douneside now operates as an hotel and health club, within a wider estate managed by the MacRobert Trust. If arriving by car from Aberdeen on the B9119 try not to miss the “Queen’s View” viewpoint on your left as you enter the Howe. There is a small car-park across the road. The village of Tarland itself has a fine old Square with some buildings dating back around 300 years.