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If it's a quintessential Scottish adventure you’re after, walks in Aberdeenshire deliver emphatically. Glimpse dolphins riding the waves from rugged cliff top viewpoints; stride out above the clouds in the high Cairngorms and amble alongside historic rivers in the shadow of magnificent castles.
Your hiking boots will be in dreamland amidst the vast beauty of the Cairngorms. The county hoards a huge chunk of the UK’s largest national park, including many of its most spectacular highlights. Experience the almighty panoramas found on four of Britain’s five highest mountains and discover some unforgettable Highland sights.Hikes in Aberdeenshire are not all about the Cairngorms. Closer to Aberdeen, the Bennachie Hills offer lovely walking on modest yet prominent peaks. The Banffshire Coast is rightly regarded as one of the finest in the UK. Sweeping beaches, rugged cliffs and sublime open skies await discovery. The light here is sensational, especially at sunset when the waves are set ablaze.
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Deeside’s draw is so alluring that it has long been a favourite haunt of Britain’s most famous family. The Royal Balmoral Estate, along with the picturesque towns of Braemar and Ballater are set against the stunning backdrop of the Cairngorms. Some of the best hiking trails in Aberdeenshire explore the pine forests, gorgeous lochs and rounded slopes of the UK’s largest national park.
Follow the Dee for long enough and you will end up in the Lairig Ghru, an unforgettably scenic pass that cuts straight through the mountains from Braemar to Aviemore. Its dramatic heart is bounded by beautiful, brooding giants. In Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine you have four of Britain’s five highest mountains, all towering over 4,000 feet (1,200 m) and within a few miles of each other. Scaling these beasts is strenuous but hugely rewarding and once you are up onto the high Cairngorm plateau the sense of freedom is invigorating.
Hikes in Aberdeenshire take on a totally different character in the east. The coast is gloriously dramatic. The ornithologist in you will delight at the puffins inhabiting the spectacular cliffs found at Bullers of Buchan. If you have not yet had your fill of grand fortresses, Dunnottar and Findlater Castles are majestic places to explore on foot. Their ruins cling sensationally to rocky headlands, perfect for a walk with big North Sea views.
Walks in Aberdeenshire are magical regardless of the season. Troup Head is a riot of wildflower colour in spring and dolphins can often be seen frolicking in the waves. Sunbathing seals occupy Newburgh Beach in summer, a splendid sight.
Back in the Cairngorms, an adventure to the imposing, dark crags of Lochnagar is marvellous and you might just catch the sight of a golden eagle circling in the blue above. The evocative sounds of the red deer rutting season echo around the hills in autumn. Although stunningly beautiful, the Cairngorms are the UK’s most dangerous range in winter due to the freezing temperatures, changeable weather, navigational challenges and huge distances involved. In short, the high hills are only the domain of experienced and equipped mountaineers during this time.
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