(198) Ballater-Monaltrie-Tullich-River Dee Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is an invigorating and interesting walk taking in some historical highlights and the attractive mixed countryside surrounding the popular Deeside village of Ballater.

Duration: 2.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Fairly frequent Stagecoach bus services along Deeside, from Aberdeen. Check timetables. There is a free car-park at Church Square in Ballater.
Length: 8.33 km / 5.18 mi. Height Gain/Loss: 128 meter.
Max Height: 301 meter. Min Height: 201 meter.
Surface: Moderate. A mix of paved surfaces, hard-surfaced paths, forest roads, and narrow uneven paths. The circuit is not suitable for off-road mobility scooters due to narrow, rough and steep paths, narrow bridges and a stile.
Difficulty: Moderate.
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.
Refreshments: Options in Ballater.

This is a varied circular walk from the busy centre of Ballater taking in: an uphill section through mature conifers to a viewpoint over the Dee valley, before descending to a footbridge over the Tullich Burn in a wooded dell; an old ruined kirk; a display of ancient stones; the Deeside Way along the old railway line; and, a riverside path by the Dee. The walk starts and ends at the attractive rebuilt Victorian Railway Station, taking an old path on the perimeter of Monaltrie Park, where the Ballater Highland Games are held, to pass by B-listed Monaltrie House, dating from 1782. The history of the building is closely linked with that of the Farquharsons of Monaltrie, who lived in the house in the 19thC. At a mid-point on the route, descending from the wooded lower slopes of Creagan Reabhach hill, the route passes close to 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 19thC, 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. Returning to Ballater there are fine views of the Deeside valley and surrounding hills, before enjoying a stroll along the banks of the River Dee itself.

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

2 thoughts on “(198) Ballater-Monaltrie-Tullich-River Dee Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

  1. Dear John and Alison, It may be a while since I looked in detail at one of your more recent walks. Today, as I have a few days in Ballater next weekend, I looked at the Ballater town stroll just posted, no 198. As usual I clicked on the OS maps option, (I have a longstanding sub), to see the detail of the route. I was pleased to see what I think may be a new layout of the route info next to the OS map, without the photos? I had a read through the text side by side to the OS map and found it to be quick and easy to check the details of the walk, clicking to open each section. Good to have the largescale OS map and the text together. How long have you been using this new system as an option for walkers to prepare for the walk? It works really well. Thankyou. I was also pleased to see that the OS grid ref of points along the route is provided. Occasionally I missed not having a Grid ref on the older system. [I have a Garmin, (Montana 700) but I find the OS maps much easier to use on my phone, so haven’t tried linking your walks to a proper GPS GPX file (yet). I got the GPS some years back for more serious winter walking on bigger hills, but having hillwalked / climbed / ski toured for over 50 years, most of my walks these days are on lower hills and flatter terrain with walking friends – (aging sore knees etc).] (We do of course always have several versions of paper OS maps, printed A4 OS maps etc.) So thanks again for all your work on these shorter walks, it is much appreciated. (We could probably send you a few recorded walks, if you need any more for your pending list. But I expect you have most walking areas covered one way or another!) Best regards, Jay

    JACQUELINE (JAY) TURNER jayturner1985@outlook.comjayturner1985@outlook.com 22 Hatton Court, Hatton of Fintray, Aberdeenshire, AB21 0YA Mobile: +44 (0) 7933 651 681 Home: 01224 791037


    1. Hi Jay,
      Thanks, as ever, for your positive appreciation and feedback.
      We took out our OS Maps subscription in late August 2021 and have created an OSMaps version of each new route (and have published a link to that OSMaps version) as a matter of course since then. So, a link to the OSMaps version is present from Walk #164 – Abbey St Bathans-Edin’s Hall Broch Circuit (Borders), published on 11th Sep 2021, onwards. Also, since then, as we have been re-visiting routes and updating the guidance, we have always added the OSMaps link into the web page and PDF guide as part of the updating process.
      In addition, we have, in fact, created an OSMaps version of all our published routes, irrespective of whether we have a published a link to it or not on the relevant web page or PDF. Unfortunately, although we, ourselves, can readily see the whole set of our routes in OSMaps, they are not necessarily easy to find by others amongst the mass of published walks on OSMaps. Although each of our OSMaps route names is prefixed by “Mack Walks”, you cannot presently search the OSMaps system on that basis. There is also no functionality within OSMaps at present to create a “collection” or “list” of our OSMaps routes that we could publish.
      In respect to the useful functionality within OSMaps that you describe, relating waypoint descriptions to points on the route map, I think that has always been present since we started using the OSMaps system. But, I could be wrong about that. Of course, many of the published routes in OSMaps don’t have waypoint descriptions added by the authors, so that functionality isn’t obvious in those cases.
      We do have it in mind to start a housekeeping process to update all the web page and PDF descriptions for our routes, from “001” onwards, to add links to our OSMaps and Alltrails versions. We hope to start that process quite soon, but it will likely take some time to complete the job.
      We are always on the look-out for ideas for new routes, so we would be delighted to receive any of your information/GPX files for walks you have done that you think we might be interested in. For us, as you will be aware, that means usually – no longer than 10 km, or so, and preferably incorporating a loop of some kind, although we have a few “there and back” routes.
      By the way, I can sympathise with the sore knees! In my case it is sore feet!
      Best wishes, and happy trails, John & Alison


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