Walking & Hiking In Aberdeen
From the long sandy beaches on the coast of the North Sea, to the thriving moorlands and mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, Aberdeenshire is home of some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. We’ve listed some of the most exciting walking and hiking routes across Aberdeenshire, including the fascinating route of The Deeside Way and the popular peaks of Bennachie. Whether you choose to take on the mountains, sandy dunes or explore the ancient forests, you’ll be welcomed by rugged coastlines and countryside scenery. We hope this list will introduce you to new and exciting opportunities to explore the picturesque Aberdeenshire countryside.
The Deeside Way is a long distance walking route, beginning in the city of Aberdeen, and running alongside the River Dee, to Ballater in the Cairngorms National Park. Covering 41 miles, most of the route is set off-road on flat terrain, with gradual gradients throughout the walk to give you more of a challenge. Along the way, you can discover many places of interest including Drum Castle, Crathes Castle and Cambus O’May, making for exciting detours and perfect picnic locations.
As the distance is split into sections, you can either explore the entire route over a number of days, or choose a specific distance that suits you best. The start of the route from Aberdeen to Banchory, and the end of the route from Aboyne to Ballater, follows the old railway lines so remains predominantly flat. However, you can expect more adventurous terrain in the middle section between Banchory and Kincardine O’Neil as the trail follows woodland tracks and forest paths. This part of the route is popular with dog walkers that enjoy a leisurely walk in Aberdeen, with a stunning backdrop of the Cairngorms mountain range.
For the more adventurous hikers, this challenge is for you – climbing the two highest peaks of Bennachie. Bennachie has several tops, with the two highest being the Oxen Craig and the Mither Tap. It’s a popular destination for walkers due to its well-maintained paths.
Starting from the Bennachie Visitor Centre, make your way through the trees onto the clear path, which will begin to incline more steeply into heathery moorland. The steep ascent through the moorland will lead you to the first, and highest summit of Bennachie, where you will reach the Oxen Craig peak.
The summit of Oxen Craig reaches 528 metres, just higher than Mither Tap at 518 metres. At the top there is a view indicator that highlights what can be observed from the top on a clear day. The views spread across the flat countryside from Craigshannoch across to the North Sea, if you’re lucky.
From the top, head back down the trail and go towards the second summit of the Mither Tap. Once you have descended and crossed paths to the second ascent, the path will become steeper towards the rocky summit. When you reach the top of the granite slabs you will be welcomed by views across rich farmland and the heathery moors of Aberdeenshire. Once you have taken in all the views on offer, head back down towards Craigshannoch, but be sure not to lose your footing on the rocky descent!
Lochnagar in Ballater
Situated in the Royal Estate of Balmoral, the mountain of Lochnagar gets its name from Lochan na Gaire, a pool of deep water that lurks below the cliffs. Lochnagar is one of the most appreciated and impressive Munros that rises above the beautiful area of Royal Deeside.
From Ballater, a narrow path leads you up through the peaceful woodland where you are surrounded by Scots Pine trees. The path ascends and meets a track higher up to bring you out into the open heather moorlands. Alongside a streaming burn, the easy ascent continues for around two miles before reaching a steep climb to the summit. The route to the summit climbs through granite boulders and rocky crags leading to the peak above, boasting some of the best views over Royal Deeside, Ballater and Braemar below. If you are looking for a satisfying climb, filled with ridges, rivers and rocks, and you’d like to be rewarded by spectacular views at the top, Lochnagar is the challenge for you.
Staying in Royal Deeside
All year round, walkers, hikers and adventure seekers explore the walking trails of Aberdeenshire to be rewarded with spectacular views of lochs, mountains and forests, around every corner. With the wide range of walking opportunities available, from gentle walks through the glens of the River Dee to the more challenging routes across Munros, Ballater in Royal Deeside is the ideal location for an adventurous walking holiday. Whether you decide to explore the Cairngorms in the morning and enjoy something a little less strenuous in the afternoon, there are plenty of other things to do in Ballater including fishing in some of Aberdeen’s best fishing waters, following our Scottish castle trail or walking along Aberdeenshires beaches.
Our Balmoral Arms (formerly Deeside Inn) is a warm, welcoming space and handy base for actively exploring everything that Aberdeenshire has to offer. Plus, as a dog friendly hotel in Ballater, you can enjoy hiking through the Cairngorms with the whole family.
Discover our list of Munros near Aberdeen
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Go back in time with our list of castles in Aberdeenshire