LYING at the very heart of Deeside and in the Cairngorms National Park, Ballater is an ideal base for the enthusiastic walker.

With a wide range of both low-level walks and high-level Munro-bagging expeditions close at hand Ballater offers a range of accommodation, great restaurants and cafés.

In days gone by the Royal Family would sail to Aberdeen en route to their summer residence at Balmoral.

From Aberdeen they would catch a train to Ballater from where they were driven the remaining miles to Balmoral.

Ballater railway station was closed in 1966 but remained in use as a visitor centre, which is shut at moment.

The station is the western terminus of the Deeside Way path, which runs from here to Aberdeen, mostly using the old railway line.

Many buildings in the village date from the Victorian era and the centre of the village is a conservation area.

Three years ago devastating floods brought turmoil to the village but you’d never know it today, such has been the community spirit and effort put into the widespread repairs and replacements.

The village is very much the prim and proper auntie of Deeside villages and is a delightful place to stay for a short or a longer break.



Mount Keen, 3081 ft/939m

Scotland’s most easterly Munro, is the highest point on the broad ‘Mounth Keen’ that separates Glen Tanar on Deeside and Glen Esk in Angus. The hill has been described as ‘ideally suited for a relaxed outing…’ but in winter especially it’s worth remembering that the summit is a long way from the houses in lower Glen Tanar to the north and from Invermark to the south.

Glen Tanar lies south-west of Aboyne, where a public road runs to Glen Tanar House and the estate visitor centre.

From a car park, paths and tracks follow the Water of Tanar through the pine woods and out onto open moorland beyond the Half Way Hut.

The track continues in a more southerly direction beyond the old farm house at Etnach and passes the ruined Shiel of Glentanar that was burned down in 1992.

Just before the track sweeps round to the remains of the Shiel, a separate track crosses the river via a new bridge, and climbs the north-west ridge of Mount Keen.

Just beyond, above the rocky hollow known locally as the ‘korlach’, (the OS call it Corrach for some reason), another path forks to the left to wind up to Mount Keen’s stony summit.


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 44 (Ballater & Glen Clova), Harveys Superwalker, Cairngorms & Lochnagar

Start/finish: Car park near Glen Tanar House (GR: NO480966)

Distance: About 16 miles/28km

Approx Time: 6-8 hours

Route: From the car park cross the bridge, turn right and follow the marked footpath to ‘The Mounth road to Glen Esk’. After a while another sign points to the right and this path runs through the pinewoods beside the Water of Tanar for about 5km. Leave the woods for the open glen, crossing the river twice. At the third crossing (GR: NO 407896) over a new bridge, ascend the Mounth Road by a broad track. Diverge SE up the path to Mount Keen’s summit. Return by the same route.



This eastern neighbour of dark Lochnagar is a Corbett (a hill between 2500ft and 2999ft), and an easy Corbett at that. Its ascent shares the same popular route to Lochnagar from Allt-na-giubhsaich as far as the high point of the track that runs between the Spittal of Glenmuick and Glen Gelder.

At this point the Lochnagar track, and the crowds, veer away to the west to climb up to the bealach below Meikle Pap.

The route to Conachcraig goes in the opposite direction and follows a less used path that wriggles its way up the heather and boulder slopes towards the Corbett’s summit.

It’s well worthwhile crossing the broad ridge to Conachcraig’s slightly lower north summit, if only for the much better view it offers towards neighbouring Lochnagar.

From the main summit you’re at too tight an angle to see much of Lochnagar, other than its rather dull Meikle Pap slopes, but from Conachcraig’s 850m top you get a much better view of the mountain.

From here you get a glimpse into the great corrie that is such a feature of Lochnagar and the cliffs which make it one of the principal winter climbing venues in Scotland.


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 44 (Ballater & Glen Clova), Harveys Superwalker, Cairngorms & Lochnagar

Start/Finish: Spittal of Glenmuick car park (GR: NO308851)

Distance: About 6 miles/10km

Approx Time: 3-4 hours

Route: Leave the car park and follow the track that runs towards Allt-na-giubsaich. Take the path that is signposted to Lochnagar through the pines and once clear of the trees continue on the main track until it reaches the high point between Glen Muick and Glen Gelder. Leave the path to the E and follow the narrower path directly to the summit of Conachcraig. Cross the broad ridge to the 862m summit for better views of Lochnagar then return to the shallow bealach between the two southern tops. Descend SE from the bealach down to Allt-na-giubsaich and the track back to the Spittal of Glenmuick


There are numerous hotels, B/B and guest houses in the village and surrounding area. For more information check out:

Hostel: Ballater Hostel, Bridge Square:; tel: 01339 753752.

Campsite: Ballater Caravan and Camping Park, Anderson Road:; tel: 01339 755727.

Outdoor Shop: The Outdoor Store, 43 Bridge Street, www.; tel: 01339 753878.