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Ballater and Old Railway East

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Ballater and Old Railway East
Author: Deeside Walks, Published: 03 Aug 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide
Aberdeenshire, Ballater
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Ballater and Old Railway East
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide
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A 5 mile ‘there and back’ walk from the village of Ballater in Deeside, Aberdeenshire. The walk follows a stretch of the old railway heading east, providing easy walking and passing two sites of historical interest along the way; Tullich Chapel and The Souterrain. The turning point is at Cambus O’May where you will find The Riverside Cottage cafe and The Cambus O’May artisan cheese company creamery (with a visitor viewing platform). Once you reach the turning point, you can retrace your steps (giving a total walking distance of about 5 miles) or you can catch a bus back to Ballater (reducing the walking distance to about 2.5 miles).

The walk follows mostly a wide, relatively flat, hard path for its full length, although some sections can be a little muddy. There are a couple of road crossings, including a crossing of the A93 that needs care. There are no kissing gates or stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate a couple of staggered barriers at a road crossing. Access to the rail path at the start is via a set of steps or a ramp. With this in mind, the route would be suitable for rugged pushchairs or mobility buggies. You may be sharing the path with cyclists. The old rail line is enclosed away from fields, so you will not be sharing your path with livestock. Allow 2 hours.

Ballater is located on the River Dee, within the Cairngorms National Park and about 15 miles east of Braemar. The walk starts and finishes at the Old Royal Station in Station Square, accessed via the main A93. There is parking available in the square itself. Approximate post code AB35 5RB.

Walk Sections

Start to Open Countryside
Start to Open Countryside

Start point: 57.0502 lat, -3.0402 long
End point: 57.0545 lat, -3.0319 long

The walk begins outside the Old Royal Station in Station Square. From 1866 the station was the terminus for a branch line from Aberdeen and was the nearest rail station to Balmoral Castle. It was regularly used by royalty and their guests. in 1886 the Royal Waiting Room was built to a design approved by Queen Victoria. In September 1936, Edward VIII was seen meeting his mistress, Wallace Simpson from a train at Ballater Station. The station and line closed in 1966. Having fallen into disuse after the closure, the beautiful wooden station building was refurbished for use as a visitor centre. Sadly, the building was destroyed by fire in May 2015, but a project was set in motion to restore the building, which re-opened in 2018.

At the east end of the old railway station is a sign that points the way for the Deeside Way, through a gap between the buildings and down onto the old railway line itself, behind the station. Behind the old railway station is the beginning of this path. There are steps or a ramp for disabled access. Follow the path east along the old railway line. The path follows the old railway line, crossing a couple of back-roads in the village. Very soon the path emerges out into the countryside.

Open Countryside to A93 Crossing
Open Countryside to A93 Crossing

Start point: 57.0545 lat, -3.0319 long
End point: 57.0616 lat, -3.0175 long

Stay on the rail path, now with lovely countryside views. You will be able to see several surrounding hillsides, including Craigendarroch, Creag an t-Seabhaig and the Pass of Ballater between them. In front of you is the hamlet of Milton of Tullich and Tullich Lodge on the hillside, behind it are the wooded shoulders of Crannach Hill. After about a mile, the path dips and crosses the main A93 road. There are staggered barriers to slow down those on bikes, but be careful with young children and dogs as you approach.

A93 Crossing to Tullich Chapel
A93 Crossing to Tullich Chapel

Start point: 57.0616 lat, -3.0175 long
End point: 57.0643 lat, -3.0064 long

Cross over the road with care to continue ahead on the old rail line path. After another half a mile the path passes the ruins of Tullich Chapel or Tullich Kirk on the left-hand side. Originally the settlement in this part of the Dee Valley was here at Tullich and Ballater didn't exist. Tullich grew up because it was directly across the river from the Mineral Well of Pananich, which was a popular attraction. Marker-posts give you further information about the ruined church and the old settlement. Walking around the churchyard you may notice that the wall is circular instead of square or rectangular. Why? Local legend says it was to avoid there being any corners in the walls for the Devil to hide in.

Tullich Chapel to Souterrain
Tullich Chapel to Souterrain

Start point: 57.0643 lat, -3.0064 long
End point: 57.0648 lat, -3.0041 long

Just a few paces on from Tullich Church, on the opposite side (right-hand side) of the path is a piece of Deeside history thought to be over 2000 years old - the souterrain. This is an underground space, painstakingly constructed of granite blocks and buried in the ground. It is thought to either have been a storage space for crops or - decades before the Romans arrived - a hiding place for villagers when enemies approached.

Permissive access to the souterrain is gained by going through the gate into the field of Braehead Farm. Be careful though, the souterrain is in a working field. Do not enter if there are livestock or growing crops here. If you do enter be sure to close and secure the gate behind you.

The souterrain doesn't look much from the path but when you approach you can see a square of barbed wire designed to keep livestock away from it. At the end furthest from the path is the entrance to the underground space. A gap between granite flagstones leads down into the chamber. It's not easy to see into now, but it appears that the entrance gap is only about a foot high, leading to a chamber about 7 feet (or about 2 metres) high. It cannot have been very pleasant to have to hide here, packed in with your fellow villagers with enemies all around.

Souterrain to Turning Point
Souterrain to Turning Point

Start point: 57.0648 lat, -3.0041 long
End point: 57.069 lat, -2.983 long

When you have finished at the souterrain, your journey continues along the old railway line. To the left across the road is a pond stocked for anglers. The hill behind it, Crannach Hill, has been purchased by the RSPCA to encourage the nesting of ospreys.

A short distance further on the path passes through a wood. To the right is the Cambus O'May Cheese Company creamery which makes Deeside's very own variety of cheese. Just beyond the creamery to the left, the path gives access to the road, and on the other side of it is a lovely little cafe called Riverside Cottage. This marks our turning point.

Turning Point to End
Turning Point to End

Start point: 57.069 lat, -2.983 long
End point: 57.0505 lat, -3.0403 long

Now it is simply a case of retracing your steps and following the path back to Ballater. Alternatively, there is a bus-stop a few steps down the road from Riverside Cottage. You can catch a bus from this stop to take you back to Ballater (service frequency varies).

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author deesidewalks and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 gallery images for "Ballater and Old Railway East"

11290_0deesidewalks1533301837 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide Image by: Deeside Walks
Uploaded: 03 Aug 2018
The Old Royal Station in 2012, before it was destroyed by fire in 2015
11290_1deesidewalks1533301837 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 03 Aug 2018
The Old Royal Station after restoration in 2018 (image courtesy of local council)
11290_2deesidewalks1533301837 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 03 Aug 2018
The royal carriage at the station (image courtesy of local council)
11290_3deesidewalks1533301837 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 03 Aug 2018
The royal waiting room at the station (image courtesy of local council)
11290_4deesidewalks1533301837 Ballater and Old Railway East - Deeside Walking Guide Image by: Deeside Walks
Uploaded: 03 Aug 2018
The entrance to the souterrain is very narrow, ideal for evading enemies

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