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Five of the best autumn walks in Aberdeenshire

Haddo Country Park
The Pheasantry at Haddo is a highlight on any autumnal stroll in the area.

It can be tough to say goodbye to the light nights and warm days of summer strolls, but autumn forest walks in Aberdeenshire can be just as pretty if you know where to look.

Aberdeenshire does autumn particularly well, with countless beautiful walks which really show the season at its best.

Forests are where you want to be; sheltered from the chilly wind and with a canopy of red and gold leaves above you.

Nature has been shown to improve mental health and wellbeing so let’s not stop a drop in temperature getting us out and feeling good.

Here we share five of the best destinations for forest walks in the region – just don’t forget your walking boots.

The best forest walks in Aberdeenshire

Muir of Dinnet

The colourful autumn forests around Loch Kinord at Muir of Dinet
The forests around Loch Kinord at Muir of Dinet put on a colourful show every autumn.<br />Picture by Scott Baxter 27/10/2020

There are four trails at Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve just past Aboyne.

Each vary in length and difficulty, though the star attraction is the Burn o’Vat.

The vat is a great granite cauldron with a cascading waterfall at one end, only accessible via a gap in the rocks.

Nearby Loch Kinord makes for a quieter stroll with woodlands, birdlife and the water to admire – as well as a crannog, the site of a former castle and a rather good Pictish stone.

Loch Kinord at Muir of Dinnet
Loch Kinord at Muir of Dinnet. Supplied by Julia Sidell

The birch trees will be in full autumn mode with bright yellow leaves throughout.

Crathes Castle

A pond at Crathes Castle - the site of one of the most beautiful forest walks in Aberdeenshire
The grounds of Crathes Castle are host to all manner of species of tree, each more colourful than the last during this time of year.

This list wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of Aberdeenshire’s most famous castles, and Crathes is a great place to spend an autumn afternoon.

Standing against a backdrop of rolling hills and set within its own glorious gardens, Crathes Castle is every inch the classic Scottish tower house and its grounds offer fantastic day out for the family.

Wander through the historic walled garden and admire the dense yew hedges said to have been planted as early as 1702.

Or head further afield out onto the estate where there are six clearly signposted trails taking you through woodlands and marshlands past ponds and streams.

Look out for birds such as buzzards and herons – there’s even a new wildlife hide on one of the trails for prime bird-watching opportunities.

Haddo House

A forest walk in Aberdeenshire that passes by the Old Pheasantry building at Haddo Country Park
The Old Pheasantry at Haddo Country Park is a must-see on a stroll around the area on a chilly weekend walk.

The grounds of this stately home, which hosts an annual arts festival, are well worth an explore this autumn.

Formal gardens surround the property itself but beyond that, there are several forest walks on the Aberdeenshire estate.

The best route will take you about an hour and a half through various parts of the grounds including picturesque sculptures, decorative historic gates, children’s play parks and a large lake.

Oh and the magnificent avenue of lime trees which leads up to the historic Haddo House itself is at its best during autumn.

Have your camera ready as the leaves turn a buttery yellow and coat every path and patch of grass in sight.

Glen Tanar

Glen Tanar reflecting the autumnal forest trees on the water's edge
Glen Tanar features all sorts of beautiful waterways, ideal for reflecting the gorgeous reds, yellows and browns of trees in the autumn.

It’s famous for a reason – Glen Tanar is a truly beautiful place to spend a few hours exploring the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. Walks in Aberdeenshire don’t get much more stunning than this.

From forest tracks along the meandering Water of Tanar, to climbing, single-track trails across heathery moors, there’s a lot on offer here.

Family walks work well with pebble beaches on the river perfect for picnics and keeping kids happy.

There are several shorter-length, flat loops for a range of walking speeds while more serious hill walkers have their pick of more challenging trails – along the glens, or over traditional drovers’ routes towards Mount Keen and the Grampians.

Oh and while you’re peering up at the golden trees here keep your eyes peeled – you might even catch a glimpse of a golden eagle too.

Aden Country Park

A pond reflecting autumnal trees in Aden Country Park
Aden Country Park is a must-visit around this time of year.

Crisp autumn leaves cascading around a picturesque old bridge… It’s like something straight out of a rom-com.

Will the guy get the girl? Who knows. But one thing is for sure, Aden Country Park in Mintlaw will sweep you off your feet.

This large park is great for chilly walks with friends and family.

A small lake is situated within the park with ducks that can be fed while the River Ugie runs through one corner.

In the heart of the park lies a semi-circular farmstead building built around 1800 and a coach house built in 1832 which now houses the re-opened Aberdeenshire Farming Museum.

More beautiful walks to try: