CHRISTMAS walks with family or friends can be some of the best of the year. The company of loved ones in the fresh air is a good antidote to the excesses of the festive season – however, the reward of a warming drink and something to eat afterwards can also add to the pleasure. Here is a selection of great walks to enjoy now
DISTANCE 5∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 1,590ft.
TIME 3∫ to 4∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 38.
PARK Turn left off the A96, about six miles north of Inverurie, on to the B9002. Half a mile after Oyne turn left, following a brown sign for the Back o’ Bennachie car park.
IN SUMMARY Bennachie is good place to head for an energetic winter walk with fantastic views inland to mountains and across farmland to the North Sea. There are a number of tops to the hill and a good, if less usual, way up is from the Back o’ Bennachie car park to take in the highest point, Oxen Craig (1,733ft), before reaching Mither Tap – a pointed rocky peak which most think of when Bennachie is mentioned.
LOCH MORLICH, NEAR AVIEMORE, CAIRNGORMS
DISTANCE 3∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 150ft.
TIME 1∫ to 2∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 36.
PARK The Glenmore visitor centre car park is at the eastern end of Loch Morlich.
IN SUMMARY Loch Morlich has a beach, great views into the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms and has a reindeer herd living nearby. Starting from the Glenmore visitor centre you can enjoy a circuit of the water through mixed woodland. Leave time to visit the reindeer, especially if you have young children with you (www.cairngormreindeer.co.uk).
QUEEN’S WELL, GLEN MARK
DISTANCE 5 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 270ft.
TIME 2 to 3 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 44.
PARK A mile north of Edzell turn off the B966 on to the Glen Esk road. About 15 miles further along, just before the end of the road, turn into the Invermark car park on the right.
IN SUMMARY Glen Mark, at the top of Glen Esk, is a brilliant place to enjoy some peace and quiet, surrounded by mountains. Starting from Invermark, you can walk to the Queen’s Well, even further if you feel up to continuing to the top of Mount Keen – the most easterly Munro. The crown-shaped stone structure was built to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1861.
ST ANDREWS AND THE ROCK AND SPINDLE
DISTANCE 4∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 230ft.
TIME 2∫ to 3 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 59.
PARK In the centre of St Andrews there are a number of places to park.
IN SUMMARY Where better to blow away the cobwebs than on a coastal walk? Stroll south from St Andrews along the coast to a small sea stack known as The Rock and Spindle. This pillar of basalt looks unnatural and it is hard to believe it was created by nature. Just as good is the sight of the waves crashing in on a winter’s day. n