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Creagan Riabhach

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Creagan Riabhach
Author: Deeside Walks, Published: 18 Oct 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guidestar0 Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guide
Aberdeenshire, Ballater
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Creagan Riabhach
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guide boot Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guide boot Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile Aberdeenshire Walking Guide
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7 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 4 mph SE
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A 7.5 mile circular walk from the village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire. This walk takes you from Ballater village centre up to the summit of Creagan Riabhach (533 metres above sea level). It is a very pretty walk across the top of Creagan Riabhach where on clear days you have a view to Morven to the north and all the way to Lochnagar, 12 miles to the south west. Creagan Riabhach is the hill to the north east of Ballater, that you can see from the village and which is distinctive because of the aerial on top. In fact, the aerial and peak you can see from the village is just a shoulder of Creagan Riabhach, which has its a summit behind this.

The walk follows a mixture of good paths and tracks plus about half a mile of road walking along the B972 (Pass of Ballater). The total climb is around 350 metres, through woodland and open heath, and the ascent is generally long and steady. There are no stiles or livestock on route. Allow 3.5 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 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 Village Green
Start to Village Green

Start point: 57.0501 lat, -3.0409 long
End point: 57.0514 lat, -3.039 long

Walk along the front of Ballater Station, with the restored station buildings on your left. To the east end of the station is a passageway that leads to the old railway line. When you arrive at this railway line, walk along it (you can only go one way, which will be east). Walk along the old railway line for only a short distance. There are a number of paths leading off to the left through the houses. Take one of these (it doesn't really matter which).

Whichever turn you take, you will come out onto Provost Craig Road. On the opposite side of the road will be the village green where the annual highland games are held. Running just to the left of this green, a path leads under some trees (just to the right of the red fence in the photo). Take this path.

Village Green to Pass of Ballater
Village Green to Pass of Ballater

Start point: 57.0514 lat, -3.039 long
End point: 57.06 lat, -3.0355 long

Walk along the path under the trees (with the green across to your right). Another path will cross it but keep going ahead. The footpath continues and swings right, heading roughly east, passing fields on your right. After a couple of hundred yards the path bends to the left and into a little cul-de-sac called Morven Way. Keep going in the same direction along the road and it will come out to a road junction, at the B972 (Pass of Ballater).

Pass of Ballater to Woodland Entrance
Pass of Ballater to Woodland Entrance

Start point: 57.06 lat, -3.0355 long
End point: 57.0616 lat, -3.0303 long

Taking care of traffic, turn right along the Pass of Ballater. You will pass a road sign for Tullich. You will also pass a power sub-station. After a short distance further, there is a lay by with space for a car to park on the left, with a track leading off up the hill. Take this Land Rover track that leads off to the left, up the hill. (Sometimes if there is forestry work going on, you will see a warning sign however, in my experience, provided you stay on the tracks there will be no problem).

Woodland Entrance to Morven View
Woodland Entrance to Morven View

Start point: 57.0616 lat, -3.0303 long
End point: 57.0762 lat, -3.0247 long

Follow the Land Rover track up the hill. You will pass through a ride - a break in the trees with telephone lines. Simply keep going ahead. Another Land Rover track leads off to the right. Ignore it and keep following the main Land Rover track that leads gently up the hill. The track continues for some distance curving round to the left up the hill. The trees begin to thin out. Eventually you come out of the trees and will have lovely views. Crannach Hill is to the right. Ahead of you is Morven (a peak of 871m).

Morven View to Antenna
Morven View to Antenna

Start point: 57.0762 lat, -3.0247 long
End point: 57.0728 lat, -3.0273 long

The Land Rover track now curves round to the left so that you are heading back west, continuing to climb Creagan Riabhach. Soon the path arrives in the saddle between two peaks. The path branches at a junction (pictured). The full route will continue to the right shortly, but first we take a detour to the left to visit the antenna viewpoint.

Following the left-hand branch, you will pass a pond. On a clear day, the crags you can see behind the pond are the crags of Carn Mor (1150m). There is a loch at the base of the crags, Lochnagar (it's one word - don't ask me why), and as a result everyone tends to call the crags Lochnagar. They are about 14 miles away.

The path leads to an antenna (the one you can see from Ballater village). From the foot of the antenna is a good view of the valley. The snow-covered peak to the right is Mount Keen (939m), about 8 miles south.

Antenna to Track Junction
Antenna to Track Junction

Start point: 57.0728 lat, -3.0273 long
End point: 57.0803 lat, -3.0498 long

When you have finished at the antenna, return to the previous junction. You need to bear left here (as though you were forking right from your original direction). Once you have taken this fork, bear right again to head up the hill. (You may see another track in the heather going straight on - ignore this). Now you are climbing up to the summit of Creagan Riabhach itself, 533m above sea level. As you continue to follow the path the trees will thin out. You may spot less well-defined tracks off to either side - ignore them, keep on the same path, which for now will be taking you up the hill, away from Ballater.

The top of Creagan Riabhach is quite flat. Keep following the path along what is essentially now a plateau, with great views on both sides on a clear day. To the left you will see Lochnagar in the distance. For the last 500m or so you will have been walking almost directly away from Ballater. You may see some other smaller paths around you but ignore these and don't worry, when you get to the correct junction you can't miss it. Continue until you come to a junction in the Land Rover track (pictured).

Track Junction to Lorn Burn
Track Junction to Lorn Burn

Start point: 57.0803 lat, -3.0498 long
End point: 57.061 lat, -3.05 long

Turn left to take the left-hand track – which leads directly back towards Ballater. You can't see Ballater at first but may make out Mount Keen in the distance. The path leads down the hill and into a wood. Walk through the wood, shortly the path comes out the other side of the trees and continues to descend the hill.

Now the path runs alongside the Lorn Burn (with the burn to your right). To your right is Balmenach farm and somewhere beyond it is the ruins of Abergairn Castle. Ahead of you is the back of Craigendarroch Hill. The path flattens out then crosses the Lorn Burn.

Lorn Burn to Old Railway
Lorn Burn to Old Railway

Start point: 57.061 lat, -3.05 long
End point: 57.0588 lat, -3.0638 long

Keep ahead and there is a final hundred yards through the trees before the path emerges back onto the Pass of Ballater (the B972). Taking care of traffic, turn right and follow the road leading you past Craigendarroch Hill (on your left). Soon you will come to the junction between the Pass of Ballater and the main A93 Braemar Road.

When you get to this T-junction with the A93 (the Braemar Road), go ahead to cross over the main road to reach the far pavement. Turn right along this pavement and follow this for just a few metres to reach a break in the fence on your left (this is where the pavement ends and before you reach the lay-by ahead). Turn left through the fence gap and follow the footpath leading downhill to reach the old railway line.

Old Railway to Old Line Road
Old Railway to Old Line Road

Start point: 57.0588 lat, -3.0638 long
End point: 57.051 lat, -3.0539 long

When you reach the old railway line (a wide, level footpath) turn left and follow it leading you back towards Ballater. The River Dee should be on your right, on the far side of some fields.

Not long after you have started walking along the old railway line you should see a wooden fishing hut across the water. This is Polvier, the fishing hut favoured by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother when she was staying at Balmoral.

Continue to follow the old railway line down river for a few hundred yards back into Ballater village. The old railway line meets a road. Keep going straight on along the road which is Old Line Road.

Old Line Road to End
Old Line Road to End

Start point: 57.051 lat, -3.0539 long
End point: 57.0502 lat, -3.0411 long

Where Old Line Road bends left, do NOT follow this. Instead go ahead onto the pedestrian track which will emerge to the end of Dundarroch Road. Keep ahead to the end of Dundarrock Road and then turn left onto Invercauld Road.

You will reach a T-junction with the main road, with The Auld Kirk on your left. Turn right along the main road and this will lead you back to the station square on your left, where the walk began. Congratulations, you have finished the walk up Creagan Riabhach!

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network Creagan Riabhach, 7.5 mile 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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