In the middle reaches of Deeside, the high mountains are set back behind rolling foothills clad luxuriantly in Scots pine, and the mighty river sweeps past Balmoral Castle en route to Ballater. The small town itself ranks amongst the most attractive in the Highlands, packed into a grid pattern and centred on a large green - a popular tourist destination even before Queen Victoria ensured its fame.
As well as the pinewoods there are stunning lochs. Amongst them is Loch Muick, stern and majestic, whilst Loch Kinord is more intimate, fringed by the beautiful birchwoods of the Muir of Dinnet. To the south is the Mounth, a range of plateaux almost as extensive as the Cairngorms themselves, all presided over by the grand peak of Lochnagar.
|Cambus o' May Pinewood trail||4.25km||1 - 2 hours|
|Fairy Pool and Riverside walk, Glen Tanar||4.75km||2 hours|
|Loch Kinord circuit, Muir of Dinnet||6.25km||1.5 - 2.5 hours|
|Glen Tanar pinewoods, near Aboyne||8km||2 - 2.5 hours|
|Seven Bridges and Knock Castle, Ballater||10.5km||2.5 - 3 hours|
|River Dee and Cambus o' May circuit, Ballater||12.75km||3 - 4 hours|
|Craigendarroch oakwoods, Ballater||4km||1.5 - 2 hours|
|Craig Coillich and Pannanich Woods, Ballater||4km||1.5 - 2 hours|
|Burn O' Vat and the Culblean circuit||6.5km||1.5 - 2 hours|
|The Balmoral Cairns, Balmoral, Crathie||9.5km||2.5 - 3 hours|
|Loch Muick Circuit||12.5km||3 - 3.5 hours|
|Sgòr Buidhe circuit, Ballater||11.5km||3 - 3.5 hours|
|Geallaig and the Gairn||17km||5 - 7 hours|
|Conachcraig and Gelder Shiel, from Balmoral||22.25km||6 - 7 hours|
|Mount Keen by Glen Tanar||29km||8 - 9 hours|
|Lochnagar circuit, Glen Muick||19km||6 - 7 hours|
|Creag an Dubh Loch and Broad Cairn, Glenmuick||23km||7 - 8 hours|
|White Mounth Munros, Glen Muick||29km||9 - 11 hours|
Ben Dolphin visits the spectacular Burn o' Vat, on the Muir of Dinnet nature reserve.
"In October this year, as part of a month long rock festival, the best places to see Scotland’s geology were announced. At this point you may well be sitting there with a confused look on your face as you try to picture Ozzy Osbourne shouting Scottish place names into the microphone..."