Some road walking doesn’t detract from this attractive and varied circuit in central Buchan that links some recently made paths to visit the memorable Aikey Brae Stone Circle. The route is peppered with historical interest and open rural views.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach #66 from Mintlaw. Check timetable. Parking on-street in Old Deer.
Length: 9.130 km / 5.71 mi
Height Gain: 149 meter.
Height Loss: 149 meter.
Max Height: 123 meter.
Min Height: 37 meter.
Surface: Smooth. A mix of fairly recently made paths and paved surfaces.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead near farm animals and on public roads.
Refreshments: Options in Mintlaw.
This is a varied walk amongst the undulating countryside that characterises the Buchan area. The circular route starts in Old Deer, an attractive little village that can trace its roots back to the Christian missionary St Drostan in the mid 6thC. Leaving the village, the route soon joins a section of the Formartine and Buchan Way, a linear pathway that uses the former railway line linking Dyce to the village of Maud where it splits into two – eastwards to Peterhead and northwards to Fraserburgh. From the path, we gain a sighting of the ruins of Deer Abbey, built in the 13thC, but abandoned after the Protestant Reformation in the 16thC. After a short section on the public road, our route ascends Aikey Brae, where there is a new path and helpful information boards. For a hundred years, from the mid 19thC to the mid 20thC, the Horse Fair at Aikey Brae was one of the most popular summer events in whole of NE Scotland, and attracted the travelling community from far and wide. Making our way over the hill, we soon arrive at the impressive “main event” on the walk, the Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle, dating from the early Bronze Age, where there are fine open views. The whale-shaped recumbent stone is exceptionally large and there are five stones still standing. Next, a fairly long but enjoyable section on a quiet country lane between fields leads down to Stuartfield, an unpretentious but pleasant planned village, established in 1763, when it was known as New Crichie. Here, a new track avoids the busy road, and takes us to the wooded walks network in Aden Park, home of the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum, and close to our start point in Old Deer where we advise checking out the interesting remains of the original church located in the graveyard of the current Deer Parish Church. The old church was established in the 15thC, the site possibly having an association with Deer Abbey from the 13thC, and earlier Christian missionaries may have used this site from the 6thC.