Craig Leek, near Braemar, Scotland
This waymarked walk is located in the Invercauld Estate near to the village of Braemar, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, known as Royal Deeside . The land has been in the ownership of the Farquharson family for many centuries and extends to approximately 200 square miles of spectacular scenery. The walk follows a circuit around the prominent hill of Craig Leek with fabulous views up and down Deeside. Here you will be amongst some of the country's finest scenery.
The start of the walk is the car park of the Invercauld Estate - located 4.5kms east of the village of Braemar on the A93 - close to the bridge straddling the River Dee. Full details of the route can be viewed on the walkhighlands website - the 8.5km / 5.25 miles walk should take around 2 - 2.5 hours. This walk is the shorter of the two waymarked circuits from here; it begins along the tarmac continuation of the lane into the car park, and is signed as a public footpath to the Linn of Quoich. Continue along the road, passing the attractive estate houses. If the weather is clear, there are fine views of Beinn a' Bhuird ahead. Views onto the estate show art installations on the lawns but unfortunately I haven't been able to find out any information about the art piece.
The walk is a total gem with fabulous views every which way. After pasing Invercauld House you will turn north and ascend through trees till you reach an open path following the contours of the hill.
At the highest point of the walk we stopped in a small copse of pine with some great flat rocks to sit and look south east over the forests of the Balmoral Estate towards fantastic views of Lochnagar. As you continue the walk you'll pass a small homestead of abandoned stone houses and barns in the lee of the hill and several stone cairns as you descend towards the Felagie Burn. You might also stumble across a collection of brightly coloured and active bee hives in the lee of the hill.
After crossing the burn you will turn westwards and follow a pathway back toward the carpark with the burn on your right hand side. Look for the whitewashed cottage with red corrugated roof - plain, unadorned, vernacular and solid but homely as so beloved in this part of Scotland!
Here the air is clear, views spectacular and you are surrounded by calm and quiet only found in the Scottish Highlands so far from any built up cities and roads. The calm might be punctured by the calls of birds and if you're very lucky you might just stumble across some of the more elusive birds and animals of this area including eagles, red squirrels, ptarmigan, red and roe deer!