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Walk 4 - Dess Waterfall

7.5km (4.5 miles),climb 205m, time 2 hrs

From the Old Smiddy walk west along the main road about 150m, turn right up Pitmurchie Rd., carry on for about 200m and take the Deeside Way where it is signposted forking to the left behind the houses. The track carries on gently uphill for about 1 km almost straight then bends left and soon crosses the tarmac road to Westerton. Take a moment here to see the view down the valley of the Dee towards Banchory.

Continue along the Deeside Way as it winds uphill through woodland to its highest point (B on the map) and then descends more rapidly to point A. Here a wide path takes off on the right running level along the hillside and then slowly descending to where a stout wooden fence keeps you from falling into the Water of Dess below. From here there is a fine view of the Dess waterfall ahead. The path continues in a semi-circle round to the right, still with a protective fence where required and passes close above the main fall and a smaller fall upstream. At this point the path becomes much narrower until, about 100 m further on, it joins a bigger track from the right.

The walk now continues on a broad track through mature spruce and pine forest for about 400 m until it crosses an open area of cleared forest running steeply uphill to the right along which there used to be a power line. The track crosses this area, up the hillside on the other side and bends left across an old wall. It then follows the contours along the hillside through spruce woodland and after 300 metres joins a well-made dirt road close to a new warehouse. Turn right uphill along that road and after 200 m branch left and join another track which comes up from the Deeside Activity Centre below. Turn right on that track and follow it uphill for about 500 m where the track leaves the wood through a gate and style.

Continue downhill on a grassy track which soon joins the road coming down on the left from Townhead Farm. Keep walking downhill past a house on the right for about 100 metres of tarmac, but where the tarmac forks to the right keep straight on downhill past the converted farm steading on the right to point D on the map. Pass through the stone-built gateway ahead, past the house on the left and so down a pleasant grassy path to the Deeside Way and back to the village. If this path is overgrown in the summer then return to the tarmac road above and follow that down to its intersection with the Deeside Way.


Walk 5 - Westertown Wood

5.5 km (3 miles), climb 100m, time 1 hr. 30 mins.

From the Old Smiddy walk west along the main road about 150m, turn right up Pitmurchie Rd., carry on for about 200m and take the Deeside Way where it is signposted forking to the left behind the houses. The track carries on gently uphill for about 1 km almost straight then bends left and soon crosses the tarmac road to Westerton. Take a moment to see the view from here down the valley of the Dee towards Banchory. Continue along the Deeside Way as it winds uphill through woodland to its highest point (B on the map)

Here the Deeside Way reaches a high point in open ground along a power line with a distant view of Morven. The walk leaves the Deeside Way at this point and continues along a path that follows the power line for about 200 m then bends sharply right uphill. The path is wide, but rather rocky and steep for the first 100 m. It continues through open mature pine forest with many minor twists and turns and eventually levels off, crosses a ruined wall and emerges on a large open space made for timber loading. This space is part of a swathe running downhill across the walk which was cleared through the woodland for a power line now removed. Take a moment here to branch off for about 20 m down the hill from where an excellent view opens, looking up the Dee valley to the Pass of Ballater and beyond into the Cairngorms.

The walk continues downhill from the other side of the cleared area along a good track which bends slowly left. After about 100 m, where the track straightens and levels off, look for another track (less well-marked) that takes off to the right. Follow that track along the contours of the slope for 200 m until it intersects a track coming up hill from the Deeside Activity Centre. Turn right and walk uphill for 400 m through larch and pine trees to the fence at the edge of the wood where the walk continues through a gate and style on to a grassy track.

Continue downhill on the grassy track which eventually joins the road coming down on the left from Townhead Farm. Keep walking downhill past a house on the right for about 100 metres of tarmac, but where the tarmac forks right keep straight on downhill past the converted farm steading on the right to point D on the map. Pass through the stonebuilt gateway ahead, past the house on the left and so down a pleasant grassy path to the Deeside Way and back to the village. If the path is overgrown in the summer then return to the tarmac road above, take the left turn and follow that down to its intersection with the Deeside Way.


Walk 6 - Dess Ridge

5km (3 miles), climb 105m, time 1 hr. 15 min

From the Old Smiddy walk west along the main road about 150m, turn right up Pitmurchie Rd. and continue uphill on the tarmac road (narrow, beware cars) for about 1200m until the road makes a sharp right bend. Be sure to pause on the way up to enjoy the expanding view south across the valley of the Dee. The highest points on the skyline are Mt. Battock on the left and Mt. Keen on the right. Clachnaben is conspicuous as ever back down the road. Leave the tarmac road at the bend and carry straight on up the hill past Hill of Dess House. Keep straight on past the house and along a grassy track in a NE direction, ignoring a track forking off to the right. The track soon levels off at the top of the hill and arrives at a gate on the edge of woods where it just begins to dip downhill. Turn sharp left here through a green metal gate with a spring catch: make sure you close it securely behind you as there are often sheep in the fields. Now walking SW you can follow a faint path across the field and after about 200m you will join a grassy track running between drystane dykes.

Turn left along that track which winds along the ridge of high ground towards Townhead farm with excellent views of Mortlich hill to the right (west) and down the Dee valley to the left (east). After about 400m the track arrives at another green metal gate with a spring catch. Go through the gate (and close it) and bear a little left along a footpath which winds past the farmhouse to the right and soon reaches a gravel road (point C on the map). Turn left and walk downhill for a short section of tarmac, but where the tarmac forks right keep straight on downhill past the converted farm steading on the right. Pass through the stone-built gateway ahead, past the house on the left (point D on the map) and so down a pleasant grassy track to the Deeside Way and back to the village. If the path is overgrown in the summer then return to the tarmac road above, take the left turn and follow that down to its intersection with the Deeside Way.

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