(153) Spital Cottage-Glen Dye-Charr Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
The outward route follows the scenic Water of Dye upstream through the glen to its meeting point with the Water of Charr, passing the ruins of human habitation and subsistence farming at various points. The Charr Bothy provides a pleasant resting point before the return loop.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: No public transport nearby. Park in a small rough-surfaced lay-by on the south side of the B974 road, just above the ruin of Spital Cottage. This location is 2.7 km south on the B974 from the main Glen Dye walkers car-park. See Waypoint 1 for other options.
Length: 10.260 km / 6.41 mi
Height Gain: 213 meter.
Height Loss: 213 meter.
Max Height: 299 meter.
Min Height: 213 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A very small section on the B974 road. On good land-rover tracks thereafter.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, must be on lead when passing through sheep pasture, and on the busy public road.
Refreshments: Options in Banchory, Finzean and Fettercairn.

Description
This is a very satisfying low hill-walk into lonely Glen Dye, on the Glen Dye Estate, accompanied by the scenic twists and turns of the fast-running Water of Dye for most of the route. The Glen is neighbour to one of the most popular hills in lower Deeside, Clachnaben, whose iconic granite tor is visible at various points on our route. From the start, and at various points thereafter, there are clear reminders that the Glen was once a busy place. On the green lower slopes of the heathery tops, small communities grew crops, dried their corn in stone kilns, and kept farm animals where hill sheep now graze around the ruins of their homesteads. The evidence of a rig and furrow cultivation system is especially striking, as the earth has never been turned by a modern plough. The memorable return point of the walk is the atmospheric grassy headland at Charr where the Waters of Dye and Charr meet, with the Brocky Burn tumbling past the Charr Bothy, also adding to the clear and rushing confluence. The Bothy, well maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, sits on a sunny hillside providing a place of shelter for walkers. The archaeological record shows that, on either side of the Dye, Charr was once a settlement with field enclosures and two “longhouses” (in colloquial Scots, the archetypical “but and ben” building with people and animals under one roof). For us, birds made for some lasting memories on this walk. At Charr Bothy we were delighted to make the brief acquaintance of a Reed Bunting, our first encounter with this bird, who sang their song to us from the apex of the Bothy roof. A little later, as we headed back on the upper section of the loop, above the ruins of the extensive “clachan” at Waterhead, we were repeatedly dive-bombed by a pair of nesting Lapwings. And, as we descended towards the Water of Dye at Nettyhaugh, on the road that takes you to Glendye Lodge, we attracted the noisy interest of a Stone Chat, our first ever sighting of this bird.

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

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