The Deeside Way – Ballater to Aboyne

The Deeside way is a long distance path that follows the valley of the River Dee from Ballater to Duthie Park in Aberdeen. It mostly follows the old Deeside railway line which was built in the 19th century and which became well-known as Queen Victoria’s route to Balmoral Castle. It is a ‘work in progress’ i.e it isn’t finished and there is a gap between Banchory and Potarch Bridge and a shorter gap between Aboyne and Kincardine O’Neill.

I walked from Ballater station to Aboyne on a cloudy but improving day. This is about 10 miles, easy walking along the Way. It’s a pleasant but, to be honest, a not particularly inspiring walk. I’d hoped to have lots of views of the River Dee but the Way is only near the river at Cambus O’May.

I made the mistake of not taking a break at Cambus O’May but decided to go on a bit before stopping for a coffee. There is really nowhere to stop at all – for much of the way, the path is between fences. I eventually stopped more than an hour later at a picnic area beside the Deeside Gliding Club.

The good bits of this walk are just outside Ballater, the river by Cambus O’May and Dinnet Muir. The rest of it was OK but not really worth repeating. The path ends at the edge of Aboyne and, after a bit of a trudge through the outskirts, I walked down to the Dee for another view of the water.


Ballater station – the starting point of the way

Ripening rowans

From outside Ballater, looking to Craig Coillich

Suspension bridge over the River Dee

The Deeside Way at Cambus O’May station

Dinnet Muir

Heather on Dinnet Muir

River Dee flood plain

Deeside gliding club, Aboyne

Flower of Scotland

River Dee at Aboyne































What I would really like to see is a proper Deeside Way – a path along the River Dee from its source on Braeriach to the sea. There’s bits of path along the river but these are not joined up at all. Now THAT would be a fabulous walk.

4 thoughts on “The Deeside Way – Ballater to Aboyne

  • August 17, 2012 at 12:48 am

    I am planning on spending my hols in Scotland from 21.10-01.11.12 – I know I know not exactly the best timing but heyho, that’s life…. πŸ˜‰ (also coz I am attending to a conference before/during my hols as in Battle of Ideas in London and another one at the end of my hols as in Festival of new ideas in Newcastle…. so my schedule actually is very tight…. ) anyway I would like some piece of advice. I thought of following stops in Alba during my road trip: Glasgow (also visiting Dumfries), Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Edinburgh. Obv I won’t have time to visit the Highlands…. sniff sniff. What do ya think of this trip? Is it any good? Pls lemme know your comments/suggestions so I can organise my trip in order to make out of these very special hols the most extraordinary event of my life (as all trips to the UK have always been to me…. πŸ˜‰ therefore I am so very much in love with the UK….. πŸ˜‰ ) Yvonne

    • August 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Hi Yvonne

      I think that, given the time of year, you need to be as flexible as possible. The weather can be beautiful in autumn but can also be very wet. Typically, the east is dryer than the west so you should plan to spend more time there if the weather forecast suggests this will be the case. There are also wonderful autumn colours so you should think about where there will be trees.

      Glasgow is a vibrant city with great shops and is worth a visit. If you like museums, the Burrell Collection is excellent as is the Art Gallery. Also excellent Indian food because of the Asian community. If you can and the weather is OK, travel from Glasgow to Inverness from Glasgow via the A82 (Loch Lomond, Fort Wiliam), which takes you through the Highlands. Longer than taking the main road (A9) but a much more scenic route. Even if the weather is cloudy, you will get some great autumn colours and dramatic scenery.

      Travel from Inverness to Aberdeen is best via Grantown on Spey and Tomintoul rather than the main road (A96). This takes you through some very dramatic scenery (it’s quite a high road over the hills). It’s not much longer than the main road – maybe only half and hour. If you decide to spend more time in the east, you can explore the Moray coast from Inverness. Aberdeenshire is beautiful in the autumn sunshine (see

      Dundee is not an interesting city but St Andrews, which is only about 20km from there is a wonderful small town. You can go via St Andrews when travelling from Aberdeen if you take the Tay Bridge road in Dundee. Perth is a nice place – I haven’t spent much time in the city as we always seem to bypass it. Stirling Castle is worth visiting.

      Lots to do in Edinburgh – museums, castle, etc. And lots of great places to eat ( If you have time, going south to Peebles is a good trip in autumn. Car parking in Edinburgh is difficult and expensive. So best to leave your car and take the excellent bus service.

      Hope this helps – enjoy your trip

  • August 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm


    Many thanks for a very informative blog.

    I do take on board your views re the walk being not close to the magnificent River Dee, however, locally the walk/cycle track is referred to as ‘The Old Line’ and faithfully follows the track of the old Deeside Railway that carried The British Royal Family from Windsor Castle to Balmoral Castle from 1866 to 1966.

    The ‘Old Line’ provides a perfect opportunity for walkers and cyclists to be carried back to the scenery that was enjoyed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert back in the mid to late 1800’s.

    Your blog is very true in every respect but some credit must be given to the original intentions of following the ‘Old Line’.

    • August 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for your comment. You are right of course – you certainly get a feel for the line.


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