Aberdeenshire stretches across rugged countryside, a national treasure - the cairngorms, as well as boasting beautiful coastlines. Walkers, hikers and cyclists alike are spoilt for choice when it comes to trails, especially with breathtaking lochs to explore. Picture this - watching the sunset on the calming loch’s waters, or the snow fall creating a winter loch wonderland. Every season is picturesque. If you’re an avid walker or explorer, or like to capture the simple beauty of Aberdeenshire, add these lochs to your next outdoor expedition. What’s more, you can bring your four-legged friend safe in the knowledge that these lochs near Aberdeen are dog-friendly.
Aberdeenshire is full of adventure, historic monuments, culture and rich heritage.
1. Loch Muick
Simply stunning, residing 8 miles southwest of Ballater lies Loch Muick, a freshwater loch near the Cairngorms. This Aberdeenshire loch draws the attention of locals, travellers and tourists alike to enjoy a breath of fresh air in a calming surrounding where every spot is picturesque.
The terrain surrounding the loch is enjoyable and the trail is 12.7km long and will likely take you up to 3 hours as you take in the surroundings, take pictures and navigate around. Sections within the trail can be quite challenging which suits mountain bikers, hikers and avid walkers.
On the western side, you will come across Glas-allt Shield, a hunting lodge which was built for Queen Victoria back in 1868. After the death of Prince Albert, she escaped here to grieve. Another name for this lodge is Widow’s House.
The loch is also home to a variety of wildlife species including red deer and grouse as they romp through the hills. Picture opportunities are endless at Loch Muick and will feature wildlife. Please be mindful and keep your dog on the leash as we don’t want to disturb the natives on the loch.
Image Source: Wikimedia
2. Dubh Loch, Glen Muick
Whilst everyone enjoys the cliffs of Lochnagar and the beauty of Loch Muick, the spectacular beetling Dubh-Loch is often forgotten about. Similarly to Loch Muick, Dubh-Loch is situated within the Balmoral Estate and is an upland loch. The Dubh-Loch path is only 4.5km but worth the wander.
Start your walk at Glas Allt Shiel and then meander through pine forest to the Allt an Dubh-Loch burn where you will hike up the northern slopes of the glen with breathtaking views. The gradient is fairly easy to the Stulan waterfall and then keep walking upward until the path levels out and you see vistas of Dubh-Loch nestling under the northern Munros of Broad Cairn and Cairn Bannoch. Stay tight to the water, over the peaty ground across the sandy beach and admire all the views on offer.
3. Loch Callater
Embark on a tranquil walk through heathered valleys along Loch Callater trail in Braemar. Embrace the sounds of nature and the breathtaking views as you wander for 15km along a gentle trail where every spot is worth a photograph. Loch Callater is another still freshwater loch in Aberdeenshire. The walk starts at Auchallater, a group of farm buildings and then you cross over the bridge at Callater Burn. Follow the burn downstream where you’ll enjoy the visuals and sounds of small waterfalls and then onto a gentle path that meanders around the loch boasting stunning views.
Don’t forget to pack some light bites or lunch for this trail as when you reach the lodge it’s the perfect spot to refuel, enjoy the views and have a breather. Near the lodges you’ll see a large pyramidal rock by the water’s edge where you can capture beautiful photographs with the cliffs of Creag Leachdach and Tolmount in the background.
Image Source: Wikimedia
4. Loch Davan
Loch Davan is a small and triangular, freshwater loch in Deeside Aberdeenshire. Loch Davan is only 1.21km in length and is said to be formed by a glacial kettle hole. The depth of the loch is around 1.2m / 4 feet and is now part of the Muir of Dinnet National Reserve. As Loch Davan is shallow, you won’t see much wildlife surrounding the loch except pikes, otters and migrating geese. However, you will see various aquatic plants such as shoreweed, willow scrub, horsetails and bulrushes.
Paddle boarding is a popular activity on Loch Davan to explore the serenity of the loch’s surroundings. Walks and trails can be found close to Loch Davan and Loch Kinord including the Burn o’Vat route and Muir of Dinnet viewpoint.
Image Source: Geograph
5. RSPB Loch of Strathbeg
A little further afield, Loch of Strathbeg is a shallow freshwater loch surrounded by dunes, wetland and grassland. This loch is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike due to the bird watching hideaway, aweing beach walks and pond dipping spots for the little ones. Through the winter, the loch becomes home to thousands of geese, swans and ducks, and in spring through summer, you'll be witness to seagulls, terns, ducks and swallows all raising their babies. Plus, otters also make a guest appearance when they are feeling camera ready.
There are numerous viewing points around Loch of Strathbeg including the Visitor Centre, Tower Pool Hide (850m from the centre), Willow Hide (200m from the centre) and Fen and Bay Hides (450 from airfield car park). The beach and dunes are also highly accessible for your visit from either Rattray or St Combs.
The reserve is open and accessible all year round and dogs are welcome to accompany you on your adventure. The visitor centre is also open all year with the exception of Christmas Day and New Years Day. Please, keep your dog on the leash as you explore in line RSPB rules.
Image Source: Wikimedia
Retreat to Aberdeenshire
Following your outdoor expedition by the lochs in Aberdeenshire, escape to our Balmoral Arms where you can sit back, relax, indulge and rest the mind and body. Whether you stay with us overnight or extend your Aberdeenshire adventure, we look forward to welcoming you to our Aberdeenshire home.