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The Deeside Way

Banchory to Aboyne

A 23.7km (14.8 mile) section of the Way using the Blackhall Forest and Riverside paths.

Section 3 map

King George V park sign and Deeside Waymarker The next section of the Way is between Banchory and Aboyne. This is likely to be seen as the most challenging part of the whole route, partly for reason of length at approx. 15 miles but also the ascents and descents in the forest section.

The Way does not hit the High Street in Banchory but come across King George V Park and then heads south along the B974 before crossing the River Dee to its south side.

River Dee from B974 Immediately after crossing the River Dee, rather than following the road the walker climbing a set of steps to reach a minor road that heads west towards Blackhill Forest. There is now a short section on this road as the Way also heads for a forest and the part of the walk that is on the south side of the Dee.

Finger post directions in Blackhall Forest The road head west then a left hand corner before turning right off the road close to Aulton Farm. The Way is now into Forestry Commission land, but for the first section be aware of vehicle moving into and out of Scolty Hill.

Scolty Hill is a very popular walking area, with paths that take walkers to the Scolty Tower or around the Blackhall Forest. Once the Way has passed the forest car park there are vehicle barriers and the forest tracks and roads are free of cars, but do keep alert for cyclists.

Blackhall Forest track The Deeside Way is well signed but you do need to be checking at all of the track junctions to make sure that you remain on the Way and do not end up ascending up to the tower on Scolty Hill.

Once the walker has passed the Scolty Car Park there follows slightly more than 2 miles of walking in the Blackhall Forest. This is made up of tall pine and larch trees however as an active forest there are several points where open landscapes are offered due to felling or where the trees are young.

View from Muckle Ord to Potarch Bridge In such areas the views are over the meandering River Dee to points such as Cairnton House and north west to Potarch Bridge.

The woodland section concludes at “Hill of Tillybath” and the Old Military Road linking Whitestone with Potarch Bridge.

Pedestrian bridge close to Tillenteach Turning right the Way follows paths that are running close to this this road and descending in a north westerly direction past Tillenteach to reach the “T” junction at Potarch Hotel.

The off road wooden bridge shown on the photograph is at Tillenteach and is crossing the “Burn of Cattie”, this flowing into the River Dee.

River Dee at Potarch At Potarch the Way crosses the Dee to now remain for the balance of the trail on its northern side.

From Potarch Bridge the trail runs for another 2 miles approximately sandwiched between the A93 and the banks of the Dee. At Borrowstone just to the east of Kincardine o’ Neil the path comes out and onto the pavement, passing by the old ruined parish church and hospital of Kincardine o’ Neil. This was thought to be a 14th century ruin, but today none of the adjoining hospital remains visible.

Kincardine o' Neil St Mary's The community of Kincardine o' Neil is said to be the oldest community in Deeside and had the most important ford across the Dee. This allowed for the movement of people, armies and cattle as they moved north over the Cairn O' Mount or south to the cattle markets of Crieff or Falkirk.

The now ruined church of St Mary's is thought to have been build over the site of the late 5th century church founded by St Erchard.

Christ Church Episcopal The route follows the main street through the village to the west end, at which point it turns right and heads north away from the Dee.

The path passes by the side of the Christ Church Episcopal building and then past a few more modern houses on the right hand side.

Pathway heading towards Townhead As the trail leaves the village there is a path branching off to the left and this is clearly marked as the next off road section of the Deeside Way.

Initially with bungalows and villas on the north side of this track it soon leaves them behind with farmland on both sides and attractive views to the south and the high Angus hills on the southern horizon.

Ahead the trail path heads to the higher ground and trees of Dess Wood.

Track crossing in Dess Wood Having followed the clearly defined path into Dess Wood and reached the highest point the trail starts a gentle descent to a point shown on the right hand picture. At this point the path takes the second track on the left. Presently there is a lack of a waymarker at this junction and for this reason it is one of the points where an error might occur.

Having taken this path (almost directly ahead) it very quickly starts to increase its gradient downhill and to the left then twisting and turning as the path heads towards the road crossing near to Newton of Drumduan.

Dess Wood This descent is in many ways very different to the rest of the Way with steep descents and high forest trees.

Approaching the minor road the path crosses a small burn, feeding into the River Dee, then has a staggered crossing before the path continues between Newton of Drumduan and Mains of Drumduan prior to reaching the old track bed of the Deeside Railway. It is this railway bed that is now the line of the walk till it reaches the Boddomend area and a very minor road leading off from the A93. Presently this is the end of the defined path towards Aboyne, the continuation of the disused railway can be followed for about a further 400 metres before being stopped by a fairly substantial metal barrier fence. We therefore indicate that on reaching the Boddomend road the walker turns left and walks the short distance up to the A93 at a point opposite Craigwell Wood. It is then the walker's choice as to how they will reach Aboyne which is about 2 Km along the busy A93.

We would strongly warn against walking this road and suggest that the safest solution is to wait for one of the hourly Royal Deeside buses to pass by, they will stop at the Boddomend road end.

It is the intention that through discussions between Aberdeenshire Council and landowners that this mising link in the trail will be overcome and the Way can be extended and made traffic free all the way into Aboyne.

Click on this link to move to the next section of the walk.

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