THE silence to be found amid a Caledonian pine forest is one (of a great many) reasons to visit the Highlands. On a summer’s day when the birdsong and the flow of the river are the only background sounds, it can be a magical sensation – stand still and close your eyes to make it more intense.
Above the Linn of Quoich is a good place to enjoy this feeling, as well as a walk, which takes in the crashing sounds of waterfalls and the spectacle of a strange bowl that has been carved over centuries by the pounding water.
Take a picnic to enjoy along the way, either at the falls or higher up near a footbridge, from where you can look out to the vast, remote expanse of the Cairngorms.
DISTANCE 3 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 300ft.
TIME 2 to 2∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 43.
PARK Turn off the A93 at Braemar and drive through the village, following signs for the Linn of Dee, six miles down a single-track road. Four miles farther on there is parking at the end of the road for the Linn of Quoich.
IN SUMMARY Continue walking along the single-track road from the parking area and cross a bridge over Quoich Water. At a green right-of-way sign, go left to follow a wide path, past a disused red-roofed cottage.
The path continues up the river to the Linn of Quoich and the Punch Bowl – a bowl carved from rock by swirling waters, just up from a footbridge. It is said that the Earl of Mar filled it with spirit to toast the Jacobites in 1715. Next to it is a slightly ruined cottage – this is known as the Princess’s Tea Room, named after Queen Victoria’s granddaughter when she married the Duke of Fife, who owned the Mar Lodge Estate where it stands.
Don’t cross the river by the footbridge unless you want to cut the walk very short. Instead, follow a grass path by the river. The path becomes narrow in places and care should be taken of the steep drops to the left. Continue upstream, past a waterfall and across stepping stones over a tributary to the river. Eventually, you reach a footbridge which you cross to begin the return. On the other side a small path leads to an estate track, where you should go left. After just over a mile, a path on the left leads back down to the Punch Bowl (you can go straight to the car park but a second visit to the natural wonder is preferable).
At a path junction, keep left to drop down to the footbridge passed near the start. Cross over and turn right to retrace your steps to the parking area.
REFRESH Braemar has a good choice and is a lovely spot to head for after the walk.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The stunning scenery is enough for most, but you can also get a taste of royalty. The Queen’s residence at Balmoral is closed at the moment while she enjoys time in the Highlands, but you can visit the nearby Crathie Kirk, where the Royals worship (braemarandcrathieparish.org.uk). On 6 September, the Braemar Gathering is held – the Queen and Prime Minister traditionally attend (www.braemargathering.org).