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Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn

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Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn
Author: Deeside Walks, Published: 09 Oct 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairnstar0 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairnstar0 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairnstar0 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairnstar0 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn
Aberdeenshire, Ballater
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn
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0001_sunny Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of GairnToday's weather
8 °C, Clear/sunny, Wind: 4 mph SE
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A 3 mile ‘there and back’ walk from the village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire. The walking route uses the old rail line and a stretch of riverside path to reach the Bridge of Gairn. You will enjoy some pretty views across the valley towards Creag Ghiubhais and Creag Phiobaidh. The walk has the added attraction of passing what was, allegedly, the late HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's fishing lodge on the opposite side of the river.

The walk mostly follows an old rail line, a wide and relatively flat path. There is also a stretch of riverside path, which is narrower and can be muddy, but this can be excluded if you prefer. There are a couple of gradients, but the uphill slope is gentle. There are no stiles, kissing gates or livestock on route. Allow 1.5 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 from the car park on Provost Craig Road. Approximate post code AB35 5NR.

Walk Sections

Start to Dundarroch Path
Start to Dundarroch Path

Start point: 57.0504 lat, -3.0416 long
End point: 57.0499 lat, -3.0491 long

Leave the car park via the pedestrian exit to reach the pavement of Provost Craig Road and turn left for a few metres to reach a T-junction with the main Braemar Road. Cross over to the far pavement with care and turn right along this. Take the first road on the left, Invercauld Road, passing the Auld Kirk on this corner. This old granite church now houses a (dog-friendly) coffee shop and as well as some guest rooms.

Continue along Invercauld Road and then take the first right turn into Dundarroch Road (a no through road). At the end, the road narrows into a footpath between two stone posts. Continue along the footpath.

Dundarroch Path to Riverside Car Park
Dundarroch Path to Riverside Car Park

Start point: 57.0499 lat, -3.0491 long
End point: 57.0513 lat, -3.0551 long

The footpath emerges onto Old Line Road. This was the proposed route of the railway line west of Ballater, although despite a route being chosen and prepared, no trains ever ran west of the village. Continue straight ahead along Old Line Road. The road forks. For this outward leg of the walk we will follow a short stretch of riverside path, so take the left fork which leads you down to a car park just in front of the river. (NOTE: If you would rather avoid the narrower riverside and stick to the old rail line, take the right-hand branch at this junction instead). There are several picnic tables around the car park that have a view of the river.

Riverside Car Park to Old Rail Line
Riverside Car Park to Old Rail Line

Start point: 57.0513 lat, -3.0551 long
End point: 57.053 lat, -3.0557 long

You will see a choice of paths leading out of the car park. Take the right-hand one. This path runs along the River Dee (with the river on your left). It is fairly well defined. Along the way are one or two benches with views of the river. After about 200 metres the footpath turns back towards the old railway line (which runs to your right). Follow the footpath back up to the old railway line and turn left to continue along it.

Old Rail Line to Wooden Footbridge
Old Rail Line to Wooden Footbridge

Start point: 57.053 lat, -3.0557 long
End point: 57.0556 lat, -3.0579 long

The old railway line is a wide, well-maintained path that runs along the river. After a short distance you will come to this wooden bridge over a small gorge where a tributary stream joins the Dee (pictured). Look to the left as you cross the wooden bridge. In the trees on the opposite side of the river is a quite substantial wooden hut just back from the banks of the river. This is, allegedly, the fishing hut favoured by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother when she used to visit Deeside and go fishing in the river.

Wooden Footbridge to Path Fork
Wooden Footbridge to Path Fork

Start point: 57.0556 lat, -3.0579 long
End point: 57.0591 lat, -3.0653 long

A very short distance on from the fishing hut, the river bends around to the left and affords you a wonderful view up the valley. After another short distance a footpath joins the old railway line from the right. (This footpath leads almost straight up the bank of the hill to Braemar Road, above at the Hilton Hotel). Ignore this footpath and continue west on the old railway line.

The river now bends around to the left, veering away from your path and giving you another beautiful view across the valley. The peak in the centre is Creag Ghiubhais (486 metres). After another 100 metres or so another footpath joins the main old railway line. (This footpath also leads up to the main road and you should ignore it). Continue along the old railway line. After another short distance the path forks at a junction with a marker post.

Path Fork to Roadside
Path Fork to Roadside

Start point: 57.0591 lat, -3.0653 long
End point: 57.0602 lat, -3.0684 long

The left branch leads into a farmyard, so instead take the right fork which climbs the slope. There is a marker post here, also recommending that route. The footpath leads along the front of some cottages. After a short distance it joins the main road.

Roadside to Bridge of Gairn
Roadside to Bridge of Gairn

Start point: 57.0602 lat, -3.0684 long
End point: 57.0603 lat, -3.0695 long

Turn left and follow the pavement alongside the main road. There is a ruined church and cemetery to your left. After a short walk along the road you come to the bridge of the River Gairn, a river which will shortly join the River Dee.

Bridge of Gairn to End
Bridge of Gairn to End

Start point: 57.0603 lat, -3.0695 long
End point: 57.0505 lat, -3.0416 long

Take time to enjoy the views from the bridge. The hill directly across the valley is The Knock (355 metres). When you have finished, turn around and re-trace your steps along the old railway line. On the way back, I would suggest you stay on the old railway line instead of taking the footpath by the river. The path will take you back to the Old Line Road, Dundarroch Road and back to Ballater where the walk began. Congratulations! You have completed the Old Railway Line to the Bridge of Gairn.

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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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1 gallery images for "Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn"

11873_0deesidewalks1539094052 Ballater Old Rail Line to the Bridge of Gairn Image by: Deeside Walks
Uploaded: 09 Oct 2018
This is, allegedly, the fishing hut favoured by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother when she used to visit Deeside and go fishing in the river.

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