Loch Muick Circular Walk
The Loch Muick Circular Walk weaves history and the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park masterfully, inviting walkers to explore the grounds of the grand Balmoral Estate, purchased by the British royal family in 1852. The 12.5 km circular walk takes in the Glas-allt-Shiel, a lodge on the shores of Loch Muick, and several other highlights on the estate grounds, namely, the Balmoral Castle itself. Sound tracks and paths as well as a lack of elevation gain make this a suitable walk for families, as long as the wee ones can manage the distance.
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Route Description for Loch Muick Circular Walk
The Loch Muick Circular Walk is a 12.5 km circular trail that unfolds on the grounds of the Balmoral Castle Estate, found on the shores of Loch Muick in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The trail takes you on good paths and tracks and remains fairly level for the duration of the walk. There are no significant climbs, and with a total ascent of just 170 m, this an ideal walk for the whole family. With young children, however, you may opt to shorten the walk by turning it into an out-and-back route and stopping wherever you’d like along the circuit for the return.
You may have heard of Balmoral Castle, as it’s long been a residence of the British Royal family, dating back to its purchase by them in 1852. A grand example of Scottish baronial architecture, this walk is much more than just a lochside stroll, but instead, invites you to experience a piece of Great Britain’s history for yourself.
From the car park at the end of the public road leading to Glen Muick, begin the walk by setting out towards the visitors centre, passing by it and turning right to pick up the track that crosses the glen. A bridge soon leads you above the River Muick and on towards the lodges at Allt-na-guibhsaich. Upon arriving at the first building, turn left to join the track then continue straight ahead, ignoring the forking track that heads right.
You’ll soon reach the head of Glen Muich and the Allt-na-guibhsaich lodges, which have since been converted into accommodations available for private stays. Follow the track as it leads towards the loch, passing by an old stone boathouse as you continue on the track that mirrors the shoreline.
Once you reach a stone wall, accompanied by towering pines, you’ll find yourself at the impressive Glas-allt Shiel house, constructed under Queen Victoria following the death of her husband Prince Albert. The charming stone house was seen as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the main castle and conveys a feeling of peace and serenity. For a neat, but optional detour, follow the path found at the left side of the house, up through the woods to visit Glas Allt Falls, adding on an extra hour or so to the circular walk.
The path soon opens as you depart the pines with views of Loch Muick dazzling just beyond. At the fork, maintain a left course, returning to trace the water’s edge. Several wooden bridges pave the way as you head along the shoreline, with the option to pause at one of the welcoming sandy stretches of beach on the shore. Round the head of the loch and continue on the path as it turns left to join a slim path leading through the heather. Another fairly easy climb sets you up to join a track found at the bridge where you’ll turn left, crossing it, to continue alongside the loch.
As you complete the circular trail, great views soon open up back to Broad Cairn, a Scottish Munro situated above the loch. Pass another boathouse, albeit this one much more contemporary than the first, and turn following signs for the Capel Mounth track. Pass by Loch-end wood, following the track as you complete a final stretch, retracing your steps to return to the car park where the walk began.
Balmoral Castle is a grand estate located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Since 1852, the sprawling, grand estate has been a residence of the British Royal family, following its purchase by them from the Farquharson Family. The original castle underwent vast improvements under Queen Victoria following the death of her husband Prince Albert and today it’s listed as a category A listed building and remains an exemplary example of Scottish baronial architecture.
Loch Muick is a freshwater loch found at the head of Glen Muick just south of Braemar and is contained within the grounds of the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire Scotland. The loch is home to an array of wildlife including deer, red squirrels, and a variety of freshwater fish.
Glas-allt Shiel House
Perched near the shores of Loch Muick, the Glas-Allt Shiel House was built by Queen Victoria in 1868 following the death of her husband Albert. It was seen as a retreat from the main Balmoral Castle and she often referred to it as her “widow’s lodge.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How large is the Balmoral Estate?
Although approximate, the size of the Balmoral estate grounds is estimated at around 50,000 acres.
Is the public permitted to tour inside the Balmoral Castle?
Yes, the castle itself is open to the public, please see below tips for more information.
Is it possible to stay overnight in the Balmoral Castle?
No, the accommodations at the Balmoral Castle itself, although extensive, are reserved for guests of the British Royal Family. There are however several cottages on the grounds that are available for rent as holiday cottages. Please see tips for more information.
Other Great Walks in Cairngorms National Park
Insider Hints for Loch Muick Circular Walk
- There is a charge of £4 per car when parking at the Spittal of Glen Muick car park
- The car park at Glen Muick often fills up early, particularly on weekends at which time you’ll need to find another alternative nearby.
- There are several options for accommodations to extend your stay at Balmoral. Find a list of holiday cottage rentals available here, https://www.balmoralcastle.com/slideshow-home.htm
- Balmoral Castle is open to the public from April 26th to August 2nd from 10 am to 5 pm daily (with last admission possible at 4 pm). Prices are as follows: Adult £ 15, Child £ 6, Family £ 39.95
- The Balmoral Cafe, located on the estate grounds serves up great food and drink for your enjoyment either before or after the walk. Prices however are known to be high compared to the surrounding area.
Getting to the Loch Muick Circular Walk Trailhead
To get to the Loch Muick Circular Walk from nearby Ballater, head southeast on Hawthorn Cres towards Hawthorn Pl\Inchgeal Garden, then turn right onto Hawthorn Pl/Inchgeal Gardens, and continue for 0.2 km miles before turning left onto Bridge St/A93. Continue for 0.3 km, then turn right onto B976. After 1.0 km, turn left and follow signs for the Spittal of Glen Muick car park where the walk begins.
Loch Muick Circular Walk Elevation Graph
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Loch Muick Circular Walk Reviews
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