This is an interesting and rewarding hike in the scenic but de-populated landscape of upper Deeside. The walk is accessed from a lay-by on the busy A93 road between Crathie and Braemar but soon provides a sense of solitude and remoteness, on the way to the lonely “clachan” at Auchtaven.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Fairly frequent Stagecoach bus services along Deeside, from Aberdeen. There is a bus-stop at Inver on the A93 about 450 m from the walk start/end point. Check timetables. There is a large lay-by at the walk start/end point.
Length: 10.56 km / 6.84 mi. Height Gain/Loss: 299 meter.
Max Height: 471 meter. Min Height: 296 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of hard-surfaced rough roads, moorland land-rover tracks and grassy paths. Initial 1.5 km on tarred minor access road. We believe the complete circuit is not suitable for off-road mobility scooters due to the return route having a section with a narrow path through high heather. We would recommend changing the route to a linear “there and back” to/from Auchtaven.
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 are likely to encounter sheep at various points.
Refreshments: Options in Ballater, Crathie and Braemar.
This varied walk harmoniously mixes upland farming country with birch woodlands and heather moorland. There are many fine views to enjoy along the way, not least down the sweep of Glen Feardar, south towards Lochnagar and its surrounding hills, and west towards Braemar and beyond, to the highest peaks in the Cairngorms. A clutch of pull-out information boards on the outward route, once part of a drove road to the southern cattle markets, provide some helpful insights into the history behind the landscape. The focal point on the walk are the buildings and ruins at Auchtavan, an isolated former subsistence farming community, or “clachan”, near the head of Glen Feardar (the “glen of the high water”) at 450 m above sea level, and dating back to the immediate post-Medieval period, probably in the mid-16thC . Although the views are inspiring, day to day life must always have been hard at this very remote spot. Auchtavan means the “field of the two goats”, a reference to the annual rent to be paid by each family to the local feudal superior. It is believed that up to 12 families may have once made their lives here, keeping animals, and growing grain crops which they dried using stone kilns. A little further downhill from the roofless ruins and enclosures are three intact buildings with roofs, sitting alongside the remains of two longhouses. The first of the three, a 19thC house, now used for educational visits, was the last occupied farmhouse at Auchtaven, afterwards being used by the late Queen Mother as a “picnic cottage”. Secondly, an older horse-mill, which used the motion of a horse (or cow, or donkey) to turn a millstone, for threshing corn. And thirdly, the even older so-called “hanging-lum” cottage, or “black house”, which has a cruck-framed roof and the canopied chimney arrangement that gives it its name. These buildings have all been restored, and are now maintained, by the community of Braemar, who have also provided four excellent information boards at the site. You can also see more information about the buildings and the impressive restoration project here: http://www.auchtavan.com/ .
Photos from walk
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