Duration: 2.25 hours.
This is a pleasant extended stroll around and about Huntly, taking in the historic castle, an ancient bridge, the impressive driveway up to the former Castle Lodge mansion house (now the Castle Hotel), the scenic banks of the fast-flowing River Deveron, and a mature area of pine woodland in the centre of the town. In the early part of the route we enter an impressive archway passing through the oldest part of the Gordon Schools complex. The school was founded in 1839 by the Duchess of Gordon as a memorial to her late husband and was designed by the notable Scottish architect, Archibald Simpson. This leads us to the ruins of Huntly Castle, where Historic Environment Scotland have a visitor centre. The core of the present building dates to the late 15thC, based on an earlier motte, the 12thC Peel of Strathbogie. The castle, ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan Gordon, the Earls of Huntly, played an important part in the bloody history of Scotland’s development as a nation [see link below]. Passing around the back of the castle we cross over an old single span stone bridge over the River Deveron. The bridge, probably rebuilt in the 17thC on the foundations of an earlier structure (there are medieval mason’s marks on some of the stonework), is an extremely scenic spot with fine views up and down river, with the eye also being led up the long and impressive driveway to the Castle Hotel (formerly the Castle Lodge, built as a family home for the Dukes of Gordon during the 18thC). The route then leads past the hotel and down the West driveway to the main road to Portsoy where there is now a footpath back towards Huntly to cross the Deveron again at the Bridge of Gibston. The route then leads downstream on the banks of the Deveron, passing the Nordic Ski Centre (the UK’s only purpose-built all-weather facility for Nordic Skiing). In this section there are attractive open views over the farmland and forests that surround the town. In the final section the route takes us back to the centre through a mature area of conifer woodland. For Huntly Castle info, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntly_Castle