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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    532 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    15.8 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk

    Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk

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    Table of contents

    The Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk is a beautifully scenic route that will take you through a charming locale in Cairngorms National park for some truly beautiful views across the undulating landscape. While out walking the trail, you will make your way past the 16th Century Invermark Castle before passing by the calm waters of Loch Lee on the uphill climb to several cascading waterfalls. There is so much natural beauty and history on this route that it should definitely not be missed.

    Route Description for Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk

    While the Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk is a beautiful trail, there are a few steep sections of terrain that will require careful footing. Make sure that you wear proper walking footwear when setting out on this adventure. Additionally, upper portions of this walk are poorly marked and will require you to navigate the rugged terrain of the moor. Bring a GPS to ensure that you stay on the correct path. As with most of the elevated routes in Cairngorms National Park, bring several layers of protective clothing, as the weather here can change rapidly.

    Although the upper portions of the trail can be a bit rugged and are poorly marked, walking this trail is a fantastic experience that will allow you to experience the natural beauty and history of the southeast corner of Cairngorms National Park. The route will take you by charming churches and a 16th Century defense tower before walking along the charming waters of Loch Lee. From there, you will climb uphill and visit several waterfalls before climbing uphill to an elevated position overlooking Glen Esk. This is a wonderfully scenic route that should definitely make it onto your list of must-do walks in the area.

    Setting out from the car park at the Lochlee Parish Church, head to the west for 0.22mi and cross the bridge of Water of Mark to arrive at a gated junction. Take the path on the left and head through the gate to make your way past the Invermark Castle, a 16th Century tower that was built to deter Highland marauders. Continue along the trail, as it passes through a stretch of woodland terrain along the banks of the Water of Lee. From the tower, keep straight for 1.2 km, where you will pass by the Old Glenesk Church and arrive at the edge of Loch Lee.

    Continue making your way towards the west, with the slopes of Monawee on your right and those of Cairn Caidloch on your left, with the calm waters of Loch Lee in between. Reaching a fork in the path, bear right and continue on for another 1.16mi to arrive at another fork. Take the trail on the left here and follow the path as it begins to climb up the hillside along the Water of Unich. After 1.0 km, you will arrive at the site of a beautiful waterfall known as the Falls of Unich. Take some time to appreciate their natural beauty before continuing on for another 0.76mi uphill to reach an equally beautiful waterfall known as the Falls of Damff.

    From here, continue south for 152 m and turn left to cross over the stream, making your way east to climb even further uphill above Glen Esk. This portion of the route is off-trail, so break out your GPS and exercise caution near the edge of the hillside. After taking in the breathtaking views overlooking the picturesque glen, surrounding hills, and scenic lakes, work your way to the southeast to meet back up with the pathway.

    Turn left here and follow the path downhill along the rugged terrain of the hillside towards Inchgrundle. After meeting up with the lane, turn left and follow it to the northeast for 0.36mi, where you will meet back up with your initial route that ran alongside the shores of Loch Lee. Turn right here and retrace your steps along the trail to return to the car park having completed the Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk.

    Other Great Walks in Cairngorms National Park

    Check out our trail guides to Ben Magdui, Loch Muick, Ben Vrackie, Loch an Eilein, and the Mount Keen Walk. Or see all of our Cairngorms walks.

    Insider Hints for Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk

    • Terrain along the upper portions of the route are rocky, boggy, and slippery when wet. Make sure to wear proper walking boots for the best footing along the trail.
    • Grazing livestock are often present in the area, so make sure that your dog is on a leash to avoid any interactions.
    • Some parts of the trail are poorly marked, so bring a GPS to make sure that you stay on the correct path.
    • Wear several layers and bring water-resistant gear, as weather in this area can change rapidly.

    Getting to the Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk Trailhead

    To reach the trailhead for the Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk from Tarfside, drive northwest for 107 m and turn left, following the road for 4.0 km. Make a left here, followed by a quick right, where you will find the car park on the right in 1.9 km.

    Route Information

    • When to do:


    • Backcountry Campsites:


    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:


    Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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