15 Best Walks in Ballater (Hikes & Nice Walks)

15 Best Walks in Ballater (Hikes & Nice Walks)

By will

Looking for the perfect getaway?

Ballater, Scotland has it all! From breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains to peaceful hikes through glens, there’s something for everyone.

Whether you’re a serious hiker or just looking for a nice stroll, these 15 best walks in Ballater offer something for everyone.

1. Balmoral Cairns

Purchase Cairn, Balmoral Estate
Photo by Pete Chapman

Tucked away in the rugged Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral Cairns is a hidden gem.

It’s the perfect spot to explore some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes and get lost in nature.

From the rolling hills of the Grampian Mountains to the ancient forests of Glen Shee, this is an area that will take your breath away.

The cairns themselves are spectacular, standing tall against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear lochs.

This is a great place to hike or simply take in the stunning views that surround you.

The path around them takes you through some of Scotland’s most gorgeous scenery, so keep an eye out for wildlife along the way too!

Whether it’s birds, deer, or even red squirrels, there’s plenty to see and experience here.

2. Invermark And Mount Keen

Mount Keen Summit
Photo by Graham Scott

The next stop on your journey of the best walks in Ballater is the Invermark and Mount Keen.

This pair of mountains is a combination of stunning views and challenging hiking trails, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a bit of adventure.

From the top of Invermark, you can see across to the North Sea, with its rolling waves and pristine beaches.

On clear days, you can even spot Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.

Mount Keen also has fantastic views from its summit; its rocky terrain provides plenty of opportunities to explore the area and take in the majestic scenery.

If you’re feeling up for a challenge, there are several routes that will take you around both mountains.

The most popular route starts at Glen Esk and takes you on a loop around both peaks before descending back down into the valley below.

Along this trail, you’ll pass through some beautiful natural scenery like ancient woodlands, open grassy hillsides, and wildflower meadows full of color and life.

No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something to see here – so don’t forget your camera!

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for an enjoyable day out in nature, there’s something for everyone in Invermark and Mount Keen.

3. Loch Muick Lake Circular

Gravel Road on N edge of Loch Muick
Photo by Pete Chapman

Loch Muick Lake Circular is one of the best walks in Ballater, providing an opportunity to explore the stunning beauty of the Scottish Cairngorms.

Starting out at the car park near Loch Muick, you’ll be welcomed by a stunning view across the lake and its surrounding mountains.

The path follows a series of wooden bridges as it winds around the lake before heading up into the hills.

Along the way, you’ll have plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds of this incredible spot.

There are also plenty of opportunities to stop for a picnic or just sit and enjoy the breathtaking views.

At the top of your climb, you’ll find yourself surrounded by vast open spaces and spectacular views over more distant mountain ranges.

This is one walk that will stay with you long after your return home.

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Make sure to bring your camera as there are countless wonderful photo opportunities along this circular route; from cascading waterfalls to soaring eagles and majestic red deer!

With its picturesque scenery and serene atmosphere, Loch Muick Lake Circular is an unforgettable experience that will truly leave you feeling inspired.

4. Cambus O’ May Pinewood Trail

Cambus o’ May Pinewood trail is a picturesque walk through a lush forest.

Located just outside the charming village of Ballater, the trail takes you through ancient pine trees and into a tranquil paradise.

Along the way, you’ll find yourself surrounded by stunning views of heather-covered hills and crystal-clear streams.

There’s plenty to explore here, from hidden waterfalls to towering mountains that provide awe-inspiring vistas as far as the eye can see.

The path is easy enough for all ages and abilities, with plenty of benches to rest on along the way.

This trail is perfect for those in search of peacefulness and serenity; it’s an ideal escape from city life.

As you make your way through the woods, take time to appreciate its beauty and marvel at its wonders.

Listen out for birdsong, spot wild deer grazing in nearby fields, and even catch sight of a red squirrel or two.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even get to witness an impressive sunrise or sunset over the distant lochs – a truly spectacular sight!

5. Glen Tanar Pinewoods

Next on your list of the best walks in Ballater is the Glen Tanar pinewoods.

This area of Scots pine and birch trees, situated just outside the village, is an outdoor paradise that’s a must-see.

Here you can explore miles of woodland trails and discover a breathtaking array of wildlife, including red squirrels, deer, and ospreys.

The paths are well-marked, so it’s easy to navigate your way through the forest while taking in the sights and sounds along the way.

If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, there are several steep inclines leading up to beautiful views across the valley.

There are also plenty of opportunities for mountain biking or a spot of fly fishing in one of the many crystal clear lochs dotted around this area.

No matter how you decide to spend your time here, the beauty of Glen Tanar pinewoods will take your breath away!

6. Seven Bridges And Knock Castle

For those looking for a great day out, the Seven Bridges and Knock Castle walk is a must-do.

Located in the beautiful village of Ballater, this scenic route offers a range of walks for all ability levels.

The walk starts at the car park on Bridge Street, where you will be greeted by stunning views of the River Dee and the surrounding countryside.

From here, you can choose to follow one of five routes – ranging from an easy one-mile stroll to a more challenging seven-mile hike – that take you past ancient bridges, including The Old Bridge of Ballater, through forests and heather moorlands, with breathtaking views over Ben Avon and Ben Macdui.

Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife such as red kites and deer.

The highlight of the walk is Knock Castle – an impressive 18th-century ruin perched atop a hillside with panoramic views across Royal Deeside.

Whether you’re after a leisurely stroll or a full-blown hike, this picturesque route has something for everyone.

Enjoy nature’s beauty as you explore the majestic surroundings of Ballater – a charming town nestled in Scotland’s Highlands.

7. Old Deeside Railway Line

Away from the seven bridges and Knock Castle, lies the Old Deeside Railway Line.

This is one of Ballater’s most popular walks, offering a perfect blend of scenery and history along its length.

It’s especially suitable for families looking to explore the area together.

The walk starts at the station platform in Ballater and follows the length of the former railway line, passing through several tunnels along the way.

The route takes you through picturesque woodlands and rivers, giving stunning views across Deeside and into Royal Deeside itself.

As you go, look out for wildlife such as deer or red squirrels that are often spotted in this area.

You can also take a detour to visit some of Royal Deeside’s famous castles, such as Crathes or Balmoral.

This beautiful walk offers something for everyone with its varied terrain; it’s an ideal way to experience some of Ballater’s natural beauty, as well as its rich history.

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With plenty of stops along the way for refreshments or just to take in the views, it’s an unbeatable day out for all ages.

8. The River Dee Path

The River Dee Path is one of the best walks in Ballater, offering unparalleled views of the Grampian Mountains and the beautiful countryside.

Stretching from Ballater to Aberdeen, this picturesque path follows the river for almost 30 miles.

Along the way, you’ll come across lush meadows, rolling hills, and crystal-clear streams.

The area is rich in wildlife, with many species of birds, mammals, and fish living in and around the river.

The River Dee Path is a great way to get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature.

It’s perfect for hikers looking for a peaceful stroll or those seeking a more intense workout.

There are plenty of rest stops along the way so you can take your time, enjoy a picnic or simply relax and take in the breathtaking views.

Whether you’re looking for an afternoon walk or a full-day hike, this path offers something for everyone.

All that’s left to do is lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail!

9. 7 Bridges Walk

The Bridges Walk is one of the most iconic and beautiful walks in Ballater.

It takes you along a winding path, past some of the oldest standing bridges in the area.

The breathtaking views of the River Dee, with its tumbling rapids and crystal-clear waters, will leave you mesmerized.

Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as deer and red squirrels.

At the end of this scenic route lies Ballater Golf Course.

This challenging course is a great place to test your skills or simply take in the stunning panoramic views of Lochnagar, Craigendarroch, and Ben Avon.

With its picturesque scenery and tranquil atmosphere, it’s no wonder that this walk is so popular with visitors to Ballater.

So grab your walking boots and get ready for an adventure!

10. Glen Tanar

Glen Tanar is an absolute must-see for anyone looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Nestled in the heart of Royal Deeside, this stunningly beautiful glen offers lush forests, gushing rivers, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

The paths here are well-marked and easy enough for all levels of walkers to enjoy.

From gentle strolls through the trees to more challenging hikes up into the hills, Glen Tanar has something for everyone.

And if you’re lucky, you may even spot some wildlife along your journey!

Whether you’re taking a breather from city life or wanting to experience nature in all its glory, this hidden gem will give you tranquility and peace like no other.

11. Dess Waterfall

Leaving the majestic beauty of Glen Tanar behind, we make our way to the stunning Dess Waterfall.

Located in the heart of Ballater, this waterfall is one of its most iconic attractions.

The journey to Dess Waterfall is as memorable as the destination itself.

We follow a path through lush greenery and towering trees, before arriving at a wide open space with a breathtaking view of the river and cascading falls in front of us.

The misty whirlpools created by the waterfall are an incredible sight, and if you’re brave enough you can take a dip in them!

With its natural beauty, peaceful setting, and spectacular views, it’s easy to see why so many people come here for a relaxing stroll or picnic.

The refreshing waters of Dess Waterfall provide an escape from life’s hustle and bustle, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and themselves.

From here you can explore further along the riverbanks or just sit back and enjoy the tranquility – whatever you choose, it will be a rejuvenating experience that you won’t soon forget.

12. Loch Of Aboyne

The Loch of Aboyne is an idyllic spot for a walk with its clear, calm lake and wooded area.

Its landscape makes it one of Scotland’s most picturesque locations.

You can take in the stunning views of the loch and its surroundings while enjoying a refreshing stroll.

The trees offer plenty of shade and give you a great sense of peace and tranquillity.

The path around the loch is easy to follow and ideal for families or those wanting to take things slow.

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It’s also perfect for birdwatchers, as you’re likely to spot some rare species as you wander around.

You can also try your luck at fishing while taking in the peaceful atmosphere – it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!

At the end of your walk, you’ll have plenty of stories to tell about your time at this beautiful location.

13. Burn O’ Vat

Just a short drive away from the Loch of Aboyne lies the Burn O’ Vat, an iconic gorge and National Nature Reserve.

The area is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and offers hikers a chance to explore an array of breathtaking views.

The Burn O’ Vat trail is one of the most popular walks in the Ballater area, with its rocky terrain and narrow pathways providing a thrilling challenge for experienced hikers.

The trail’s winding path takes you through some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery as it follows the burn up towards its source.

Along the way, you’ll be able to take in stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges, passing by lush forests and clear rivers on your journey.

This walk is ideal for those looking for an adventure with plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities – keep your eyes peeled for deer, wildcats, and red squirrels amongst many others!

From the top of the gorge, you can enjoy magnificent panoramic views of Ballater and beyond, making this hike well worth your time.

So why not take a trip to Burn O’ Vat today?

14. Tullich Kirkyard

Tullich Kirkyard is a beautiful spot for a peaceful stroll and one of the best walks in Ballater.

The ancient graveyard is surrounded by lush trees and sprawling hills, giving it an eerily calming atmosphere.

The burial ground has been around since the 1500s, making it a great place to take in some Scottish history as you wander the paths.

There are plenty of graves to explore, including those of local heroes and notable figures such as Lord Mackay and Lady MacGillivray.

The kirkyard’s tranquility is enhanced by the sound of birds singing in the trees and the soft rustling of leaves in the wind.

You can also find plenty of wildflowers here, adding to its picturesque charm.

Take your time exploring this sacred place – it’s sure to leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated after your walk.

A visit to Tullich Kirkyard is an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for years to come.

15. Muir Of Dinnet

The Muir of Dinnet is one of the most scenic and enjoyable walks in Ballater.

With its breathtaking views of the Cairngorms, it’s no wonder why this spot is so popular with walkers.

The 6-mile loop takes you through a variety of terrains, from lush woodland to open moorland.

You’ll be surrounded by birdsong and wildflowers as you traverse this beautiful landscape.

Plus, there are some great opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way!

If you’re looking for a challenge, try tackling the steep ascent up to the top of Carn Fiaclach, or take your time and enjoy the steady climb up to Tom Na Gruagaich.

Either way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views that stretch all across Aberdeenshire.

No matter what season you visit in, Muir of Dinnet offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

So grab your walking boots and explore this breathtaking corner of Ballater today!

Best Walks in Ballater – Final Thoughts

The beautiful village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire is home to some of the most stunning walks in Scotland.

From the Balmoral Cairns to the Loch Muick Lake Circular, there is something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there’s no shortage of options here.

The pinewood trails of Glen Tanar and Cambus o’ May are particularly picturesque and perfect for anyone wanting to take their time and enjoy the sights.

I’d also highly recommend the Burn O’ Vat, Muir of Dinnet, and Tullich Kirkyard – each offering different experiences but all equally as rewarding.

If you’re visiting Ballater, be sure to check out these 15 best walks!

They offer an array of breathtaking views, interesting history, and great exercise – not to mention plenty of photo opportunities! So don your walking boots and get exploring!


What are some easy walks in Ballater?

Some easy walks in Ballater are 7 Bridges, Glen Tanar, and Balmoral Cairns.

What are the best circular walks in Ballater?

Some of the best circular walks in Ballater are Loch Muick Lake Circular, Cairns Circular, and Loch Muick Circular.

What are some good family walks in Ballater?

Some good family walks in Ballater are Cairns Circular, Loch Kinord Circuit, and Ballater Bridges.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.