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Burn O'Vat

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Burn O'Vat
Author: Deeside Walks, Published: 23 Sep 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guidestar0 Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guide
Aberdeenshire, Dinnet
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Burn O'Vat
Length: 1 miles,  Difficulty: boot Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guide boot Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guide boot Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking Guide
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0001_sunny Burn O'Vat, Deeside Walking GuideToday's weather
8 °C, Clear/sunny, Wind: 4 mph SE
Next few days: Hover over icon for more info.
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A short circular walk of around 0.5 miles, visiting Burn O’Vat in Deeside, Aberdeenshire. Burn O’Vat is located close to Loch Kinord, near the village of Dinnet. Formed by glacial meltwater, Burn O’Vat is a large granite cauldron, home to the Vat Burn and its beautiful waterfall. The walking route leads you through the pretty woodland alongside the stream to reach the cauldron entrance, a rocky tunnel through large boulders that leads you into the geological wonder. On the return leg you will visit a viewing platform with a panoramic view over Loch Kinord and the Dee Valley. This walk is perfect if you have kids who like scrambling over rocks, or for anyone who fancies themselves as a modern-day Indiana Jones! In fact, if I was showing someone around Deeside and I could take them on only one walk, this is the one I would choose.

The woodland paths are well made, but the entrance tunnel to Burn O’Vat involves clambering over rocks within a stream that can be slippery, so please take extra-special care and wear waterproof sturdy boots. There are a few short steep climbs and descents. You will need to negotiate footbridges and steps, but there are no stiles on route. You will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock. Dogs are welcome on the walk. There are public toilets at the start of the walk. Allow 45 minutes.

The walk starts and finishes at the Burn O’Vat Visitor Centre on the B9119, about 2.5 miles from Dinnet village (between Cambus O’May and Tarland). The centre is signposted from the A93 Aberdeen to Ballater road. Approximate post code AB34 5NB.

Walk Sections

Start to Footbridge
Start to Footbridge

Start point: 57.0849 lat, -2.9431 long
End point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9439 long

From the car park, walk past the front of the Information Lodge. At the far side of the lodge, follow the path that leads into the trees. Continue past the toilets and the path winds around down a slope until you reach a footbridge over a brook.

Footbridge to Entrance Tunnel
Footbridge to Entrance Tunnel

Start point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9439 long
End point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9481 long

Cross the bridge and follow the path with waymarker posts. After a short distance you will see another footbridge to the right. Ignore this for now (we will cross this later) and keep walking in a straight direction, following the little brook up the valley. The path continues past pretty silver larch trees on both sides. After a short distance you will come to a wall of boulders across the narrow valley. The path seems to suddenly come to a halt.

Entrance Tunnel to Burn O'Vat
Entrance Tunnel to Burn O'Vat

Start point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9481 long
End point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9487 long

Look closely and you will see a gap in the rocks where one huge boulder has fallen over two others. Look down at ground level and you will see that the rocks in the water seem to have been arranged in a sort of line through the narrow gap in the rocks. The only question is: are you intrepid enough to step onto them and see what is on the other side? Step carefully over the stones in the water. After a short distance the passage widens out into a huge cave with over-hanging rocks on either side and a waterfall at the far end. This is the Vat, also known as MacGregor's Cave.

Burn O'Vat to Side Footbridge
Burn O'Vat to Side Footbridge

Start point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9487 long
End point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9477 long

The Vat was created 13,500 years ago by powerful streams carrying rocks and gravel towards the end of the last Ice Age. As the ice retreated, the stream became less powerful and deposited the gravel which covers the base of the Vat. No-one knows how deep the gravel is and therefore how far the rock walls go down.

Not only is the Vat a geological marvel, in more recent times it was also the hiding place of bandits. In the 1600s a notorious cattle rustler, Patrick Gilderoy MacGregor, and his band were rumoured to use it as their hide out. According to the arrest warrant issued by the Privy Council in 1636 “they come in darkness of the night down to the country, fall unawares upon the houses and goods of His Majesty's poor subjects and spoil them of their goods...to the disgrace of law and order”. All landowners were charged to hunt, follow and pursue MacGregor and his gang and “never to leave off their pursuit until they be either apprehended or put out of the country”. However, it wasn't for another 22 years, in 1658, that MacGregor was finally apprehended and hanged.

The particularly intrepid can climb the waterfall and follow a narrow footpath that leads further up the little valley, however for this walk we will retrace our steps through the stone tunnel and back onto the path. Follow the path ahead until you come back to the side footbridge that you passed earlier (now on your left).

Side Footbridge to T Junction
Side Footbridge to T Junction

Start point: 57.0841 lat, -2.9477 long
End point: 57.0845 lat, -2.9459 long

Turn left to cross this bridge and follow the footpath ahead, up the steps and up the side of the valley. Continue to follow the path as it leads along the side of the valley, heading back towards the car park. After a short distance the path reaches a T-junction.

T Junction to Viewing Platform
T Junction to Viewing Platform

Start point: 57.0845 lat, -2.9459 long
End point: 57.0847 lat, -2.9448 long

Follow the directions on the waymarker post and turn right, heading down the valley. After another short distance you'll come to a viewing point constructed on the spur of the side of the valley. In front of you is a panoramic view over Loch Kinord and the Dee Valley towards Dinnet and Aboyne.

Viewing Platform to End
Viewing Platform to End

Start point: 57.0847 lat, -2.9448 long
End point: 57.0849 lat, -2.9438 long

Continue to follow the path as it twists left and right and then leads down through the trees back to the car park where you began. Congratulations! You have completed the walk up to Burn O'Vat.

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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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