Walk of the week: River North Esk, Edzell

THIS is a great riverside walk, taking in views up the Angus Glens, from where the water flows, as well as passing the dramatic rapids and waterfalls of a deep gorge.

The first section takes you out of Edzell to the river and along a good path all the way to Gannochy Bridge. The further upstream you go, the banks become steeper and the water flows faster. Once over Gannochy Bridge and through a blue wooden door in an estate wall, you enter land belonging to Burn House.

You have now passed from Angus to Aberdeenshire and the further upstream you get, the more dramatic the tree-lined gorge becomes. Look out for red squirrels as you continue past fishing beats and in autumn, it can be worth lingering to catch a glimpse of salmon as they make their way upstream.

The rapids then give way to slower water for a while before the most exciting section is reached when the path goes under cliffs and the drops become ever more severe as turbulent waters crash below. Children should be kept under close supervision at this and several other points along the route because of the drops into the gorge. However, there is a good path and at no point are you in any real danger.

You then reach the poetically named Rocks of Solitude – a favourite place to watch salmon – before veering away from the water to the Glen Esk road. You can follow this road back to Gannochy Bridge (described below) but you might prefer to retrace your steps along the river rather than using tarmac.

If you do go down the Glen Esk road look out for Doulie Tower, in the trees on the right. This is a folly built for Lord Adam Gordon 200 years ago.

The return from the Gannochy Bridge can be quite arduous and you have to negotiate a steep path down the riverbank. Young children and those who are at all unsure should return along the same riverbank used on the way out. Boots are needed as it can be quite muddy and the paths are rocky in places with exposed tree roots.

DISTANCE

6 miles HEIGHT CLIMBED 140ft TIME 2-3 hours MAP OS Landranger 44 and 45 PARKING You should find a space on Edzell's High Street, near the Post Office. Otherwise, head for the north end of the town to find a car park on the left, over a mini-roundabout.

IN SUMMARY

Go to the right side of Edzell's Post Office and follow a track with a sign for "Gassy Brae, Shakin' Brig, North Esk Water, River Walk, Picnic Area".

The track reaches the river, where you go left, along a path. After a few yards don't cross a pedestrian suspension bridge, but continue upstream. Carry on all the way to a road where you go right to cross Gannochy Bridge. On the other side go left, through a blue wooden door in a wall and follow the riverside path beyond.

Continue along the river, keeping high above the gorge and avoiding anglers' paths down to fishing beats. After passing a rusted and unusable suspension bridge you have to go away from the river to cross a small bridge. Return to the riverside, ignoring a path to the right and a little further on go left at a fork.

As the gorge gets deeper, go left again to walk along a good path, below cliffs, which bends round to the right, away from the river, and up to a road.

Go right to follow the road for about one and a half miles. At the end go right to walk back towards Gannochy Bridge but just before it go left to follow a path high above the river again, ignoring paths down to fishing beats. Carry on to reach fields and continue on the high path, now very narrow as it sticks next to a fence. About half a mile after the bridge the path leaves the fence (don't drop down earlier) and follows the river.

Continue to the suspension bridge passed at the start, cross it and go left to retrace your steps to Edzell High Street.

REFRESHMENTS

There are cafes at either end of the High Street in Edzell. Or, the Panmure Arms Hotel is at the north end and the Glenesk Hotel at the south.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA

Edzell Castle (01356 648631, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) has a great walled garden.

&#149 This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday on 24 January, 2010