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Climbing Craigendarroch

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Climbing Craigendarroch
Author: Deeside Walks, Published: 17 Oct 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide
Aberdeenshire, Ballater
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Climbing Craigendarroch
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide boot Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide boot Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide boot Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide
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A 2 mile circular and strenuous walk from the village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire. The distinctive pudding-bowl shape of Craigendarroch dominates the Ballater skyline so it would be a shame not to go up it at least once. Plus, the view from the top is one of the best on Deeside. Also, at the top is a distinctive geological feature: deep score-marks in the exposed rock caused by smaller rocks dragged across it by a glacier that covered the whole of Deeside during the Ice Age.

The walk includes a long and steep climb to the summit. The pudding bowl-shape of Craigendarroch means that near the top, the path (which is no more than a wide rabbit-track), becomes steep, rocky and slippery when it is wet or icy. Expect to clamber over stones and rocks. This is definitely not one for anyone who is at all unsteady on their feet or young children. Proper hillwalking boots or at least sturdy trainers with good grips are strongly advised. You will need to negotiate some gates but there are no stiles or livestock on route. Be aware that there are steep crags to the north and south of the summit. The path described here does not take you close to them but, in case you inadvertently lose the path, always keep a close look-out ahead and ensure that children and dogs are under close adult supervision. 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 no-through-road called Craigendarroch Walk, accessed from the A93 at the north end of the village. Roadside parking is available on Craigendarroch Walk – park on the roadside soon after turning into this side road. Approximate post code AB35 5ZB.

Walk Sections

Start to Footpath
Start to Footpath

Start point: 57.0508 lat, -3.0471 long
End point: 57.0515 lat, -3.0469 long

The walk begins from the corner where Craigendarroch Walk meets the main Braemar/A93 road through Ballater. Walk a short distance down Craigendarroch Walk (10 metres or so) until you see a footpath branching off to the left (pictured) where the road bears right. There is a sign describing marker posts around Craigendarroch which you will pass on the walk, although one or two may be missing so do not be too concerned if you don't see them.

Footpath to Western Path
Footpath to Western Path

Start point: 57.0515 lat, -3.0469 long
End point: 57.0521 lat, -3.0482 long

Take the footpath. After a short walk between two houses you will come onto Craigendarroch Hill. Go through a gate. Immediately the footpath branches - take the right-hand fork. After a short distance there is a path off to the left with a marker post. Take this path to the left (pictured).

Don't be surprised if you get the feeling you're being watched - North East Scotland is one of the few remaining habitats for red squirrels and the trees on Craigendarroch seem very popular with them!

Now the footpath heads off in a steady westerly direction (i.e. to the left), around the side of Craigendarroch Hill and towards what was once a hotel, now holiday suites and lodges.

Western Path to Fork
Western Path to Fork

Start point: 57.0521 lat, -3.0482 long
End point: 57.053 lat, -3.0529 long

You will pass one or two benches by the side of the path as well as a few marker posts. You will also pass at least one information post – a hinged information board built into a post. Swing the sign up and you can see some interesting trivia about the local area. For example, one tells you how the old woodsmen used to coppice the oak trees that grow on the hill in order to produce lots of straight stems to build carriage wheels.

Keep following the path round the shoulder of Craigendarroch Hill. It continues west for some distance, leaving the summit of the hill behind you. You will probably begin to think you have gone too far and have missed the turn-off to get to the summit, but don't worry. Once you are almost directly west of the summit you will find a fork in the path (pictured). The left-hand fork continues around the hill. The right-hand fork is the one that we will take and that will lead us up to the summit.

Fork to Rabbit Track
Fork to Rabbit Track

Start point: 57.053 lat, -3.0529 long
End point: 57.0547 lat, -3.0506 long

Very quickly the path will become less distinct. Well, I suppose not too many people make it up to the top so there are less footsteps to mark out the path, but rest assured, you're on the right track to climb Craigendarroch. You may even spot a marker post to confirm it.

As you get closer to the summit the surrounding woodland changes from deciduous trees into conifers. The ground becomes more rocky and the path less distinct. By now it is barely more than a wide rabbit track but you are still going the right way! The ground becomes even more rocky in places and you can expect to have to clamber over some stones, but fear not, in the steepest bits some kind people have laid down steps in the stone (pictured - don't fret - the steps are clearer when you are there).

Rabbit Track to Viewpoint and Cairn
Rabbit Track to Viewpoint and Cairn

Start point: 57.0547 lat, -3.0506 long
End point: 57.0551 lat, -3.0474 long

After a short time, the trees suddenly open out into the clearing at the summit of the hill and you see the stone cairn there. Congratulations, you've made it!

The view from the top takes in Lochnagar to the southwest, Ballater and Pannanich Hill across the valley and Mount Keen behind it, and to the east, the Dee valley leading to Dinnet and Aboyne. Be careful, as there are steep crags just in front of this viewpoint, so keep children and dogs under close supervision. On the rock under-foot you can see distinctive thick gouges in the stone. They were caused by stones caught in the glacier that stood over the whole of Deeside at the time of the last Ice Age and which were dragged across the top of the hill with the full weight of the glacier upon them.

Viewpoint and Cairn to Bench
Viewpoint and Cairn to Bench

Start point: 57.0551 lat, -3.0474 long
End point: 57.0572 lat, -3.0434 long

A short distance across the plateau to the north is a bench and a post with a bronze plate. The post has a bronze plate pointing out the various peaks you can see around you on a clear day. To the north-east of this marker post, that's to say the opposite end of the long clearing at the summit of the hill, is the start of the path that leads down Craigendarroch. It is pointing almost directly away from Ballater village but don't worry, this is the path you need to take to get down the hill (pictured). Once again, the path is no more than a wide rabbit track in the heather.

The path down descends quite steeply and is very rocky in places. You need to be steady on your feet and have stout shoes. It descends for a bit at the opposite side of the hill to Ballater but then sweeps round to the right and you emerge on the east shoulder of the hill, looking down the Dee valley and the fields just to the east of Ballater. About half-way down there is a bench to enjoy the view and a marker post.

Bench to Crags
Bench to Crags

Start point: 57.0572 lat, -3.0434 long
End point: 57.0552 lat, -3.0431 long

You may see paths branching off to the left but don't take them. Continue following the path bearing round to the right, back towards Ballater village. This path will take you directly under the distinctive crags on Craigendarroch that you can see from the village of Ballater. Below the crags the path doubles back on itself and then back again as it descends the steep hill.

Crags to End
Crags to End

Start point: 57.0552 lat, -3.0431 long
End point: 57.0508 lat, -3.0468 long

There are two fallen trees over the path that you will need to duck under. Again, ignore any paths to the left, instead continue to follow the main path as it bears right back towards where you started. If you were to stay on this path it would emerge through a gap between houses to reach the road (you can simply do this if you wish). However, it is better to use a footpath on the right to complete the walk through the woodland.

Take the footpath (pictured) to the right shortly before the fence and houses at the bottom of the hill. This footpath continues for a short distance before delivering you back to the start of the walk. Congratulations you have finished the walk up and down Craigendarroch!

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network Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide Original GPX source file

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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11923_0deesidewalks1539706359 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide Image by: Deeside Walks
Uploaded: 16 Oct 2018
North East Scotland is one of the few remaining habitats for red squirrels and the trees on Craigendarroch seem very popular with them
11923_0deesidewalks1539706410 Climbing Craigendarroch, Aberdeenshire Walking Guide Image by: Deeside Walks
Uploaded: 16 Oct 2018
There are information posts on the hillside

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