Ballater Walking Festival

Ballater Walking Festival is locally organised with walks ranging from strenuous Munro climbs to easy, low level walks. In addition to our walks there are social events throughout the week.

Ballater, Scotland
From June 3 to
June 9, 2023
7 days
/ 23 routes
mainly Adult (40-60)
Difficult Levels: Hard, Moderate, Easy
Landscape: Mountain, National Park
Complementary: Gastronomy
Ballater (RD) Ltd


Ballater Walking Festival

This is the projected Ballater Walking Festival programme for June 2023.
This programme has been displayed to enable you to take time to read it and plan your week.
Transportation will be a mix of bus and own transport.
All walkers are requested to meet at the Hut on the Green at the allocated walk time (tba), where buses or car sharing will be organised.
Meeting times are normally 8.00 am for Strong Walks. 9.00 am for Moderate Walks 10.00 am for Easy Walks. However, some Strong Walks may demand an earlier start. Online booking will open on Friday 20th January. However existing Ballater Walking Festival Attendees are welcome to email us with their preferences in advance, and we will endeavour to ensure places on your desired walks. Walk costs will be displayed shortly. Payment can be made on our online platform or via Bank Transfer.

Saturday 3rd June

7pm – Welcome Reception

Sunday 4th June


Sgor Mor (Corbett)

Circular 18km 5-7 hours

Overlooked in favour of its illustrious higher neighbours, Sgor Mor’s position at the centre of Mar Lodge Estate offers unrivalled views into Glen Derry and the Lairig Ghru. Our route is initially steep, rough and pathless through deep heather, but both the slope and the vegetation ease with height. We aim first for the eastern top, Sgor Dubh and then, via surprisingly good walking across the high moorland, make our way to the summit proper with its strange rocky outcrops. Descent is direct and steeply into Glen Dee, where the Chest o’ Dee is the perfect place to soak our feet before the walk back to Linn o’Dee. Hosted/led by National Trust for Scotland (Mar Lodge Estate).


Peter’s Hill, Lary & Abergairn

Circular 17km    6 hours

Ascent: 450 m, 1480 ft

We leave Ballater and follow the cinder path to the Pass of Ballater. We quickly reach a good track leading in a northerly direction under Sgor Buidhe and on to Creag Riabhach. The climb is steady for 4 km or so before reaching the track from Balmenach. This is open country with extensive views. Our route skirts Peter’s Hill, after which we head northwesterly. We descend a steep spur before crossing the Lary Burn. On reaching Lary we join a quiet road which we follow for about 2 km, before skirting Prony Hill and the remains of an old silver mine. Soon we reach Abergairn and the Pass of Ballater, leading us back, via the Hilton Timeshare Complex to the villa


Lumphanan to Kincardine O’Neil

Linear   8 km   4 hours

Distance: 8 km, 5 miles

Ascent: 90m, 295ft

Starting at Station Square in Lumphanan, which has connections to Macbeth, the walk follows an Old Military Road and drovers route. We take the path that follows and crosses the Dess Road, climbing to Newton Farm and thence on through undulating open pasture and woodland. Finally we take up the Deeside Way and walk into Kincardine O’Neil.

Monday 5th June


Glas Tulaichean (Munro)

Circular  15 km

approx. 6 hours

Ascent: 700 m, 2300 ft

This is an opportunity to summit a remote West Glenshee Munro. Our approach is the more gentle

southerly one from Dalmunzie House Hotel up Glenlochsie to the ruined lodge. Scotland’s “first mountain railway” is still in evidence here. This route whilst gentle, is rich in social history. A track goes most of the way and brings you to the summit with fantastic open views. The summit of Glas Tulaichean, the green hillock, has a contrasting vista northwards towards the rough glaciated Glas Choire Beag and the remote Loch nan Eun . Our return route takes a different ridge line back to Dalmunzie House Hotel. Rough ground.


Ballater to Glen Tanar

Linear 18km 11miles

Approx. 6 hours

Ascent: 670 m, 2200 ft

We start at Ballater and end at Inchmarnoch. This route takes us over a historic drove road and past a haunt of Lord Byron’s.

We start from Church Green crossing the Dee and on to Balintober where we join the Pollagach road and follow it to the shoulder of Carn Leuchan. It’s then out onto a heathery and possibly wet “path” over into Glen Tanar at the foot of Mount Keen. From here we follow another track back over the ridge above Etnach towards the Dee, passing Ballaterach where Byron used to spend holidays in his youth. The walk ends at Inchmarnoch.


Bellabeg and Bunzeach Forest

Circular  11km 5.5 miles.

Approx. 5 hours

We start at Bellabeg near the war memorial and walk up past the church turning right to walk above the River Dee, before taking a track down to the Poldullie bridge – used in the filming of the Mary Queen of Scots film.

We then walk up to the A944 and turn right. Just before Strathdon Primary School we take the path up beside the school and then turn left to walk towards Roughpark Village.  We head then in a NW direction on a good track to Fairy Hillock before descending to a track by the Nochty Burn which on taking a right turn, takes us back down Glen Nochty to Bellabeg.

This walk has lots of historical interest and good views.

7pm Talk/Quiz

Tuesday 6th June


Ben Macdui (Munro)

Circular 30km

Approx 9-11 hours

Ben Macdui is Scotland’s second highest peak and the highest in the Cairngorms. This suitably challenging walk heads up Glen Lui, past beautiful ‘regenerating’ pine woodland. At Derry Lodge we head for Robbers Copse, a former haunt of cattle thieves, before aiming steeply up Sron Riach, Ben Macdui’s long and rough southeastern ridge. This approach offers fantastic views of Macdui’s massive cliffs, from which it’s a rocky kilometre to the sub-arctic summit. Return route to be decided on the day depending on group ability. We could include a second munro but this would make a longer and more strenuous day. Good estate tracks for first 8km. Thereafter, rough mountain paths with uneven, rocky sections. Hosted/led by National Trust for Scotland (Mar Lodge Estate).


Cairn Liath

Circular 15km    6 hours

Ascent: 500m. 1600ft

Start and end at Inverey

From the car park at Inverey we cross the Water of Eye then follow it upstream to its junction with the Allt Cristie, which we then follow westward on the mile ascent to the end of the track. A short excursion from here should take us to the grave of Sgt Davies and then it’s on to the summit of Cairn Liath where the view of the entire Cairngorm range is breath-taking. The return is down the ridge to Carn na Moine and on to Inverey – a stunning walk on a clear dav.


Special Interest. Archaeology & Music 

Tarland Way.

Linear 12km Approx 4 hours.

Starting at Tarland Square, we follow the brown route clockwise past Tomnaverie then cut across to yellow route in Drummy Wood. We follow this clockwise & back into village centre, incorporating 3 music trail points near Tomnaverie and several in the Square. We continue clockwise on the green route along the Coull road passing the bird hide, then across the Tarland Burn back to Tomnaverie.

Here are Tarland walking/music trail routes to help you visualise!

Walking – Visit Tarland

Music Trail – Visit Tarland

Wednesday 7th June


Jock’s Road

Linear 21.5km

Approx. 8 hours

Ascent: 700m, 2300ft

We start Glendoll and end at

Auchallater-a long bus transfer before we begin!

This was one of the well known drove roads of old and the scene of a famous legal case in the 1880s. We start at the Glendoll Lodge car park and head up Glendoll on a good track. We soon start climbing up to the high plateau and the scene of more than one winter tragedy. Time and weather permitting, we may take the short detour to Tom Buidhe and Tolmount, both Munros, but otherwise we continue on high ground until the drop into Glen Callater. Thereafter, it’s an easy walk to the bus at Auchallater.


The Coyles of Muick via Glen Girnock

Linear  12km  6 hours

Ascent: 480 m, 1600 ft

Start Little Mill. End Loch Ullachie. Our start is at the old schoolhouse of Girnock, following the Girnock Burn southwards past abandoned farms into the heart of Glen Girnock (allegedly the home of 12 illicit stills). We leave the track and ford the stream heading east to the southern slopes of the Coyles of Muick. This we climb to King Edward VIl’s marriage cairn, followed by visits to the other two peaks so obvious from Ballater. We then descend northwards to emerge on the public road beside Loch Ullachie. Great views are to be had if the weather cooperates.


Ballogie to Birse.

5.6 miles. Approx 3 hrs.

Ascent 1241 ft

Heading SW from the tarred road, we pass by the Riding Centre ‘Highlands Unbridled’, where native highland ponies are used for long distance hacks. We continue on through Glencat and skirt Lamahip Hill, returning via the Forest of Birse. This walk showcases the beauty and history of the area.

Can be wet underfoot.

Special interest – Belwade Farm

3 miles. Approx. 3 hrs

Walk and presentation.

Belwade’s mission is to work with horses and horse owners to help rehome and improve welfare standards of old and ailing horses.

The Farm enjoys a scenic location.

7pm Dinner

Thursday 8th June


Beinn A’Bhuird

Circular 30km 9-11 hours

Start & end Quoich Carpark

Here we visit the enormous flat summit plateaux of Beinn a’ Bhuird, the Hill of the Table, and peer into its reclusive corries. It’s 7km just to reach its base, but the walk through Glen Quoich’s beautiful woodland is reward in itself. Thereafter it’s a steady and occasionally steep climb up An Diollaid to the South Top. Descent is via the steep but shapely ridge of Carn Fiaclach, and out via Glen Quoich’s eastern track. Along the way we’ll visit the Punchbowl, where the 1715 Jacobite uprising began. Good estate tracks in the glen, rough and frequently loose stony paths on the hill itself. There are two unbridged river crossings. Hosted/led by National Trust for Scotland (Mar Lodge Estate).


Linn of Muick to Ballater

Via Creag Dearg

Linear  15k 9.5miles  5 hours

Ascent:510m, 1670ft

Start Linn of Muick

End Ballater.

This is a high level route with excellent views over the hills around Ballater. The start point is near the Linn of Muick and immediately we start climbing, following a Land rover track up onto Creag Dearg, passing on the way an old ruined settlement. The tracks continue along the plateau past Cairn Hillock and Cairn Leuchan before dropping down the Pollagach Road to Balintober and hence back to Ballater.

Special interest.

Foraging & Archaeology

Loch Kinnord  

3km  3 hours

Edibles and Medicinals Nature Walk

Start & End at Burn O’Vat carpark

We visit the Burn O’Vat trail steeped in archaeological and botanic interest.

We return to the Muir of Dinnet Car Park to sample foraged foods.

There are some steep steps to reach the viewpoint.

Friday 9th June


No Strong Walk on this day. There are 2 moderate walks.

Glen Quoich to Keiloch

Linear  20k   Approx 5 hours

Start Linn of Muick

End Ballater

Ascent: 300m, 1000ft

This walk starts at the Victoria Bridge and passes through Mar Lodge Estate to the Linn of Quoich where we take the track up the east side of the glen. After a few miles the track peters out and a short stage of “heather hopping” takes us to the path leading down through Glen Sluggan (the Fairy Glen), past the ruins of Sluggan Lodge  (Secret Bothy) and on to Invercauld House. A final section on paved road takes us to our transport at the Keiloch. Keep an eye open for Capercaillie and Ring Ouzel.


Special interest

Regeneration Walk

Mar Lodge

Circular 13km

Approx 4 hrs.

A beautiful circuit taking-in the best examples of landscape-scale woodland restoration at Mar Lodge Estate. Starting at the lodge itself, we first walk through the resurgent pine and birch woodlands of Doire Bhraghad, past one of the biggest scots pines in Scotland. After a short walk up Glen Lui we cut through the spectacular glacial meltwater channel of Clais Fhearnaig, and then walk out via Glen Quoich. Hosted/led by National Trust for Scotland rangers, this is a great chance to spend the day with estate staff and learn about the history and conservation work at Mar Lodge Estate. Good estate tracks. Mostly low level but a few steeper sections. Clais Fhearnaig can be exposed/windy.


Potarch – Balnacraig


Distance: 9.5km  5 miles

Approx 5 hrs.

We set off from Potarch and after following the Deeside Way for a short distance we turn right and climb gently on a good track before setting off up a narrow track to a trig point on top of Craigmore hill.  We then descend to a wide track turning right and heading to the road.  We turn left here and after a short distance on this road we turn right and head uphill on a good track to Balnacraig before gently walking down to a tarred road which takes us back to the B933.  Turning left we head back to the Potarch car park. This is an undulating walk with a great view point at Balnacraig.

7pm Ceilidh

Ballater, Scotland


Ballater Walking Festival

y 21st May
Festival Reception in the Albert Hall (opposite the Station)
Come and meet other walkers, friends from other years and the   leaders and helpers who will be guiding you throughout the week. Perhaps arrange shared transport. We are serving a Supper dish of Vegetable Chilli and Rice and delicious tray bakes. BYOB.  All welcome.
This is free for walkers and £5 per head for non-walkers
Sunday 22nd May
A Photographic Presentation: The Living Cairngorms– by Anke Addy in the Mike Sheridan Room in the Halls.  Stunning images of Mountains, Air, Light, Water, Snow, Ice, Mammals, Plants and Birds. Books on sale should you wish to buy. All welcome.
This is free for walkers  and £5 per head for non-walkers.
Tuesday 24th May
The Walking Festival Dinner at the Glen Aden Hotel
Meet up with your new walking companions and old friends for a two-course dinner. Price £17.00 per head to be paid now.   All welcome. Please choose your menu:
Steak Pie, potatoes and seasonal Vegetables
Balmoral chicken, potatoes, and seasonal vegetables
Vegetarian Thai Curry
Cheesecake with cream
Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream
Fruit salad
Friday 27th May
Traditional Ceilidh with Graeme Mitchell in the Victoria Hall plus an appearance by the Ballater Pipe Band and a raffle.   Bring your own drinks and snacks and dance the night away. A Festival Finale. All welcome This is free for walkers and £10 per head for non-walkers.

Tickets can be obtained from the Visit Ballater box office Here. The Albert Hall, Mike Sheridan Room and the Victoria Hall are all opposite the Station in Station Square. The Glen Aden Hotel is on the Church Green.

Free evenings: Take your BWF badge as many of the local businesses are offering Use of spa at the Hilton for £10 pp.

If you find you are unexpectedly free to come along to an event, but have not booked to do so, please do come along and let us know at the door.