“The Cairngorms National Park covers an area of 1,748 sq miles in the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth and Kinross. The mountain range of the Cairngorms lies at the heart of the national park, but forms only one part of it, alongside other hill ranges such as the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath, and lower areas like Strathspey and upper Deeside. Three major rivers rise in the park: the Spey the Dee and the Don. The Spey, which is the second longest river in Scotland, rises in the Monadhliath, whilst the Dee and the Don both rise in the Cairngorms themselves.
The Cairngorms themselves are a spectacular landscape, similar in appearance to the Hardangervidda National Park of Norway in having a large area of upland plateau. The range consists of three main plateaux at about 1000–1200 m above sea level, above which domed summits (the eroded stumps of once much higher mountains) rise to around 1300 m. Many of the summits have tors, free-standing rock outcrops that stand on top of the boulder-strewn landscape. The edges of the plateaux are in places steep cliffs of granite and they are excellent for skiing, rock climbing and ice climbing. The Cairngorms form an arctic-alpine mountain environment, with tundra-like characteristics and long-lasting snow patches.
The Monadhliath Mountains lie to the north of Strathspey, and comprise a bleak, wide plateau rising to between 700 and 950 m.
Two major transport routes run through the park, with both the A9 road and the Highland Main Line crossing over the Pass of Drumochter and running along Strathspey, providing links between the western and northern parts of the park and the cities of Perth and Inverness. The Highland Main Line is the only mainline rail route through the park, however there are several other major roads, including the A86, which links Strathspey to Fort William, and the A93, which links the Deeside area of the park to both Perth and Aberdeen.”Wikipedia Page
From the VisitAberdeenshire blog
Hillgoers owner, Garry Cormack shares his favourite hills and mountains in Aberdeenshire with VisitAberdeenshire.
“I am often asked which hill is my favourite and I quickly respond, Lochnagar. It’s actually hard to choose between them, as most are good in their own way. Lochnagar has everything though, rich in history, wildlife, the plateau, Glas Allt Falls and the loch and the corrie itself are breathtakingly beautiful. You can walk up to the incorrectly named Munro summit of Lochnagar (on OS maps Cac Carn Beag, should probably be Cadha Carn Beag – the little steep of the stony hill) from a few approaches but the usual route up is from the Spittal of Glen Muick. There is also an excellent visitor centre at the Spittal.”
“The best view on the walk is the corrie itself, which can be seen from the col beside Meikle Pap and is a good enough walk just to go there.”
“You don’t have to be a Munro bagger to enjoy hills though and some of the smaller hills offer better views and more nature. Another favourite Aberdeenshire hill for me is of course Bennachie. I’m there quite often delivering navigation courses but also just to enjoy the walks. Bennachie has a good mix of woodland, moorland, path and stream junctions, perfect for teaching navigation. The views are great too, from the sea all the way into the Cairngorms National Park.”
“There is so much history on the hill, like the plane crash that saw the first recorded casualties of WW2, the magnificent iron age fort on Mither Tap, the old settlements below and the different quarries on the hill where stone was taken for the Thames embankment. My favourite way to enjoy the hill is to approach from the informative visitor centre. Walk along the Gordon Way then cut up to Oxen Craig, over Mither Tap then down the south path to Heather Brig, much easier on the knees. There are plenty of walks for all abilities, including diverse nature trails for the young and old. Have a look at the Bennachie Visitor Centre or Bailies of Bennachie website for more information.”
“Other favourites are Sgòr Mòr, a Corbett just up from Linn o’ Dee, which offers great views down the Lairig Ghru but anywhere in the Cairngorms is fantastic.”
“Other great smaller hills are Scolty Hill in Banchory, Carnferg in Aboyne, Craigendarroch above Ballater and the beautiful Creag Choinnich in Braemar which has a fantastic nature trail too.
Before you go up any hill you should let someone know where you are going, have the right equipment and have the skills to navigate your way around the hill. You should also know the code before you go too. You can always take an expert guide and let them take care of everything! As I tell my clients, hill walking is just walking, so take your time and enjoy it!”Garry Cormack
Past Braemar, along the A93, at the edge of the Cairngorms, lies Glen Shee, the Glen of the Sith or Fairies.
Glen Shee is a glen in eastern Perthshire, Scotland. Shee. The head of the glen, where Gleann Taitneach and Glen Lochsie meet, is approximately 2 km north-west of the Spittal of Glenshee; it then runs south-east to Bridge of Cally where it merges with Strathardle to form Glen Ericht. Once known as the glen of the fairies it takes its name from the Gaelic “sith” meaning fairy and the old meeting place at the standing stone behind the present day church is called Dun Shith or Hill of the Fairies.Wikipedia page
The main settlement is the Spittal of Glenshee, now by-passed, which has a historic hotel, first run by monks from Coupar Angus Abbey to provide shelter and hospitality for travellers, hence the name “Spittal”, an outdoor activity centre, self-catering lodges, the church and an original General Wade humpback bridge. The first record of a refuge for travellers there dates back to 961 AD.
At the Spittal, the Allt Lochay and Allt Beag join to form the Shee Water, which changes its name at Blacklunans to the Blackwater and eventually joins the River Ardle to form the River Ericht.
The A93 road, part of General Wade’s military road from Perth to Fort George, runs north through the glen and on into Glen Beag, where it crosses the Cairnwell Pass, at 2200 feet above sea level the highest public road in the UK. The road climbing to the summit is now wide and straight but until the late 1960s included two notorious hair-pin bends with a 1 in 3 (33%) gradient known as the Devil’s Elbow. One of the most spectacular roads in Scotland, this was a favourite subject for postcards.
“Braemar is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, around 58 miles (93 km) west of Aberdeen in the Highlands. It is the closest significantly-sized settlement to the upper course of the River Dee sitting at an altitude of 339 metres (1,112 ft).Wikipedia Page
The Gaelic Bràigh Mhàrr properly refers to the area of upper Marr (as it literally means), i.e. the area of Marr to the west of Aboyne, the village itself being Castleton of Braemar (Baile a’ Chaisteil).”
“Braemar is situated in the heart of the outstanding landscape of the Cairngorms National Park in the highest and most mountainous parish in the UK.
Surrounded by mountains, heather moorland, pine and birchwood, it spans the rocky gorge of the Clunie water. For generations, the scenery and pure mountain air have attracted visitors. They come to enjoy walking, climbing, wildlife watching, cycling, canoeing, fishing, stalking, golf and skiing. Within close proximity to over a quarter of Scotland’s Munro’s, the area has been the inspiration for countless writers, artists and photographers and many visitors return again and again.
A cohesive and supportive community of around 450 inhabitants, the village is known around the world for the annual Braemar Gathering. The event attracts around 15,000 people on the first Saturday in September each year and has the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.
Braemar is situated on the tourist route from Perth to Aberdeen, which climbs over the Cairnwell Pass, the highest through road in the country and follows the River Dee along its picturesque valley. Surrounded by unspoilt and unpopulated countryside, it is however within an hour and a half’s drive of three major cities, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen
Almost all Braemar is now a conservation area. The village is compact with a mix of grand Victorian houses, modest cottages, narrow roads and lanes and retains a unique character.”BraemarScotland
“Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, near the village of Crathie, 6.2 miles west of Ballater and 6.8 miles east of Braemar.Wikipedia Entry
Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British royal family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were purchased privately by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. It remains the private property of the royal family and is not part of the Crown Estate.
Soon after the estate was purchased by the royal family, the existing house was found to be too small and the current Balmoral Castle was commissioned. The architect was William Smith of Aberdeen, although his designs were amended by Prince Albert.
The castle is an example of Scottish baronial architecture, and is classified by Historic Environment Scotland as a category A listed building. The new castle was completed in 1856 and the old castle demolished shortly thereafter.
The Balmoral Estate has been added to by successive members of the royal family, and now covers an area of approximately 50,000 acres. It is a working estate, including grouse moors, forestry, and farmland, as well as managed herds of deer, Highland cattle, and ponies.
“Creag Choinnich is a beautiful hill in Braemar. It is home to the oldest recorded hill race dating back to 1064 and is still an annual tradition which Queen Victoria attended in 1850 as part of the Braemar Highland Games.VisitAberdeenshire
To reach the start of the Creag Choinnich trail from the centre of the village go towards Hillside Drive. Keep following the road and you will pass St Margaret’s Church. On the left you will see a large gate at the entrance to the woods. The trail is signposted with child-friendly information on flip-out posts.
The trail is 3.8km long and takes roughly an hour and a half (depending on speed) following existing paths. The trail is well signposted and a gradual ascent with a steeper section between post six and seven. The terrain is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs unless they are designed to manage off-roading.
Red squirrels, small woodland birds and buzzards are easily seen year round. Other species covered on the trail are wild flowers, minibeasts, pine martens, bees, dragonflies and damselflies, red deer, other birds of prey and creatures of the night.
At the summit a spectacular panoramic view of Royal Deeside awaits. Sit back and enjoy the scenery. Nearby you will see the mountains Morrone, Carn nan Sgliat and Carn na Droichaide, further in the distance you can see Beinn a’ Bhuird and Ben Avon. Overlooking the village you will be able to see Braemar Castle and Invercauld House as well as other local landmarks.
Trail maps are available in the Visitor Information Centre, Speciality Shop, Cranford Guest House, and Braemar Gallery.”
“The Deeside Way is a 41 mile path running from Aberdeen to Ballater. The route follows the line of the Old Royal Deeside Railway.
The path is suitable for walkers and cyclists throughout the duration of the route. Many sections of the route are also suitable for horses.
The rewarding journey is frequently broken down into 4 sections Aberdeen to Drumoak, Drumoak to Banchory, Banchory to Aboyne and Aboyne to Ballater.
Aberdeen to Drumoak: 10.6 miles / 17 km.
Beginning at the Polmuir Road entrance to Duthie Park, you will journey through the suburbs of Aberdeen to Peterculter. The path takes you past Coalford towards Dalmaik and into Drumoak. This section of the Deeside Way takes roughly 3 – 4 hours to walk.
Drumoak to Banchory: 7 miles / 11 km.
Heading west out of Drumoak towards Crathes you will venture through Park Estate which is an ancient hunting estate of Robert the Bruce. You will enjoy gorgeous views of the River Dee and rolling hills en-route to Banchory. This section of the Deeside Way takes roughly 2 – 2.5 hours to walk.
Banchory to Aboyne: 13 miles / 21 km.
The longest section of the route takes you out of Banchory heading towards Potarch and onwards to Kincardine O’Neil (the oldest village on Deeside) before reaching Aboyne. Most of this section is not on the old railway line, it takes you through the hills providing great views over the Aberdeenshire landscape. This section takes roughly 4 – 5 hours to walk.
Aboyne to Ballater: 11 miles / 17.7 km.
This final section picks up on the old railway line once again. After leaving Aboyne the route will pass Deeside Gliding Club airfield and on to Dinnet. You will then get to Cambus O’May where you will see the impressive suspension bridge which was damaged following flooding in December 2015. For any Cheese connoisseurs a trip to Cambus O’May Creamery is a must do for a much needed refuel. Shortly after you will arrive in Ballater, winding through the houses transporting you back to Queen Victoria’s time. This final section takes roughly 3 – 4 hours to walk.”