(187) Burghead-Cummingston-Clarkly Hill Circuit (Moray)

Route Summary
Open views and points of interest characterise this varied coastal walk which, alongside the expected seaside walking, features an impressive and historically interesting headland. Although of very modest height, Clarkly Hill, above Cummingston, provides a gentle ascent and great views. The final section provides a taste of coastal pine forest, and an expansive sandy beach at Burghead Bay.

Duration: 3.25 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3.25 hours.
Transport/Parking: Stagecoach bus services. Check timetables. There is a free car-park at the walk start-point.
Length: 8.26 km / 5.13 mi Height Gain/Loss: 116 meter.
Max Height: 67 meter. Min Height: 4 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Good tracks and paths, tarred surfaces.. Not suitable for off-road mobility scooters due to steps and kissing gates.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead on public roads and near farm animals.
Refreshments: Options in Burghead.

This is a pleasant coastal walk from the harbour area in Burghead, which still supports a small fishing fleet (mostly for prawns). The route at first climbs onto the headland of the promontory on which the village is built, where there is a fine viewpoint and interesting visitor centre. This position also provides the best view of what little is visible of a massive Pictish fort. There then follows an enjoyable section along the Moray Coastal Trail, mostly on the track of a long-disused railway line. Mid-way, we pass St. Aethan’s Well, possibly dating back to Pictish times. The well, whose waters are ascribed healing and medicinal qualities, was recently rediscovered and repaired by the local community. The route then rises to the edge of the little roadside community of Cummingston, now closely wedged between the modern boundaries of Burghead and Hopeman. We then gently ascend along the ridge of Clarkly Hill, supporting high radio masts, and despite its humble elevation, providing wonderful views towards sea and land. With clear visibility, the eastern hills of northern Scotland make for a satisfying long-distance vista. If you are fortunate, you will pick out the pyramid shape of Morven in faraway Caithness. Our route then descends to take in a corner of the mature Roseisle pine forest before breaking out onto the golden sands of Burghead Bay for a short return section on the beach. Burghead Fort was a Pictish promontory fort on the site now occupied by much of the modern settlement of Burghead. It was one of the earliest power centres of the Picts, and was three times the size of any other enclosed site in early medieval Scotland. The fort was probably the main centre of the Pictish kingdom of Fortriu, from the 4th to the 9th centuries. The fort area is now famous for the “Burning of the Clavie”, a winter fire festival unique to Burghead (locally known as “The “Broch”). Every 11th January, the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round the town providing a popular spectacle.

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

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