(190) Cambus o’May-Tullich Kirk Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
A mostly easy walk with gentle inclines. The first half of the route is through mature conifer and birch forest, passing two peaceful and charming lochans. The second part is mostly on the flat ancient flood plain of the River Dee, on the Deeside Way track, and takes in some historical highlights.

Duration: 2.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Fairly frequent Stagecoach bus services along Deeside, from Aberdeen. There is a bus-stop on the A93 close to the walk start/end point. Check timetables. There is a free Forestry Commission car-park at the walk start/end point.
Length: 6.52 km / 4.05 mi. Height Gain/Loss: 139 meter.
Max Height: 272 meter. Min Height: 207 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly good tracks and paths, including the surfaced Deeside Way path. Not suitable for off-road mobility scooters due to a section with fallen trees to be stepped over, very uneven surface in places, and a kissing gate.
Difficulty: Easy.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on lead on public roads and near farm animals. You may encounter farm animals on the path to the Needle monument at Waypoint 11.
Refreshments: Near the end of the route, there are shop and catering facilities at the “Cambus O’May Cheese & Milk Hoose Café”, and the “Courie Courie Bakery & Café”. Options in Ballater.

Description
This is a gentle stroll in the scenic Deeside countryside east of Ballater. The route takes in: mature mixed silver birch and conifer forest; two pretty lochans; an ancient ruined church; Pictish stones; and, an early 19thC memorial obelisk with views to the Cairngorms. Near to the start, there is a fine view, to the west, of the Pass of Ballater and Lochnagar. The wider Cambus O’May woodlands are recognised as a sanctuary for the rare Black Grouse and Capercaillie. In the summer months, the lochans sparkle with shafts of bright colour due to the prevalence of different species of dragonflies and damselflies. This special environment also attracts many types of butterfly, including the rapidly disappearing Pearl Bordered Fritillary. At a mid-point, descending from the wooded lower slopes of Culblean Hill, the route passes a rough grassy area to the east of Braehead of Tullich farm, which was once the location for Tullich village, the first Deeside settlement to be accorded burgh status. The outline of the buildings can still be seen in aerial photographs. The houses were abandoned in the early 19th C, with the development of nearby Ballater. Soon after, we visit the ruins of Tullich Kirk, just off the A93 main road. Although the graveyard is very much still in use, Tullich Kirk was abandoned in 1798 when the Tullich parish was absorbed into a bigger entity. The present ruins date back to around 1400, but St Nathalen founded a church here around the mid 600s. In the grounds of the graveyard now sits a modern glass-fronted display enclosure, which contains an important collection of Pictish stones associated with the kirkyard. In the final section of the route we make a diversion to the “Needle” (or “Monaltrie”) monument and viewpoint, on a wooded knoll, which commemorates William Farquharson of Monaltrie (1753 – 1828) who, along with his father, played an important role in the development of Ballater and surrounding area.

Links:
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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