Walking and Hiking around Braemar
17 February 2022
Standing on top of Creag Choinnich, the small but beautiful hill above Braemar, it is easy to see why this area is such a draw for walkers and hikers. Laid out below you is the idyllic village of Braemar at the T- junction of two picturesque glens – the Clunie and the Upper Dee – above them a myriad of hills, some rounded and heathery, some rocky with deep craggy coires and some swathed in old Caledonian pine forest. It is hard to know which direction to look, as one swivels ones head to take in the 360 panorama. There must be a lifetime of different routes and places to explore? We’ll hear from Ali Hubbard – owner of Cranford Guest House and member of the local Mountain Rescue Team - who has been doing just that for the past 25 years.
Let’s begin with Creag Choinnich itself. It is a short but steep hike which starts through pine woods. The path winds up onto heather slopes where the pines become increasingly stunted and gnarled before breaking out of the trees to provide the first views of the village below. It is then a final climb over some rocky steps to reach the summit cairn. When you're back in the village, perhaps heading for coffee and cake in a local café, look back to the summit of Creag Choinnich, it’s hard to believe that half an hour ago you were standing on top, it is only a climb of 500ft but it takes you to a different world!
Take in a few refreshments at the end of the walk at Farquarsons Bar and Kitchen or The Cairn Grill and Restaurant for some locally sourced venison and cuts of Scottish beef and lamb, both in the heart of Braemar.
Return walk from Braemar village centre: 1-2 hours
Six miles west of Braemar is the Linn O’ Dee, an impressive rocky gorge, which has sheltered pools further downstream which are popular with paddlers and picnickers in the summer. This area is the largest National Nature Reserve in Britain and is the starting point for Ben Macdui which is the UK’s second highest mountain. From the Linn O’ Dee, it is about a 20-mile round trip into the heart of the Cairngorms National Park - a remote and wild landscape with a climate often described as sub arctic – to the summit of Macdui. This is therefore an outing for the more experienced and well-equipped. The first part of the hike is through the glens to an old Victorian hunting building named Derry Lodge. There is a good chance of spotting iconic Scottish wildlife as golden eagles, otters, black grouse and red squirrels are regularly seen here.
Return walk from Linn O’ Dee car park to Derry Lodge: 3 hours
Loch Callater is an enjoyable walk which is suitable for families and is a great location for seeing red deer, red grouse and other ground nesting birds. A car park at Auchallater, two miles south of Braemar, is the starting point and a good Land Rover track is followed for three miles to the loch. Beside the loch is a shooting lodge and a bothy. The bothy can be used for overnight stays but also provides a sheltered picnic spot for those rare wet days! You can extend the route by completing a circuit of the loch which is a rewarding extension to the day as the glen walls close in and the scenery becomes increasingly dramatic. A word of caution, you will need to ford a river, so the loch circuit is best reserved for drier days!
Return walk from Auchcallater car park to the loch: 2.5 hours + 1 hour for loch circuit
Get inspired for your next adventure by clicking here. Visit the Walk Highlands website to start planning your routes to these stunning locations, or pick up a leaflet at the Visitor Cabin in Braemar Mews.