Duration: 2.75 hours.
This circular hill walk on the eastern edge of the Cairngorm Mountains, definitely has a remote feel to it. There is a sense of leaving the last green corner of Strathdon behind you as you climb up and a way from the hill sheep grazing by the meandering River Don, close to its headwaters under the eastern slopes of the Ben Avon massif. The route begins at the car-park for the imposing white-walled Corgarff Castle which stands out starkly in the landscape, reflecting its former role as a forbidding base for, and symbol of, state power in the pacification of the rebellious Highlands. The route makes initially easy progress along the narrow road to Delnadamph. The hunting lodge there, once considered as the possible Highland home for Prince Charles and his first wife, Diana, is no longer standing, having been demolished some years ago. The route soon starts to climb relentlessly through the heather, past grouse butts, up the steep western shoulder of Carn Oighreah. The entirety of this walk is on the Delnadamph Estate, purchased by the Royal Family in the early 1970’s to supplement the grouse shooting on their Balmoral Estate. At first there are good views down to the valley of the Don and the Lecht road to Tomintoul. As you climb higher, weather permitting, there are uninterrupted views west to the Cairngorms, with the tors of Ben Avon, and the peak of Beinn A'Bhuird most noticeable. Near the summit area, the best views are from the Shepherd’s Cairn, where there is a good perspective on the now distant Corgarff Castle, shining white beneath you. During the descent from the top there are many tantalising glimpses of the Castle. Corgarff Castle, originally built around 1530, had a chequered history, having been partially destroyed by burning a number of times over the tumultuous centuries. After the Battle of Culloden, the British government rebuilt it as a barracks on the military road from Braemar Castle to Fort George. It is now maintained by Historic Environment Scotland as a visitor attraction (temporarily closed at the time of writing due to the Covid pandemic). See: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/corgarff-castle/
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