Burn O' Vat and the Culblean Circuit.
Start. Burn O' Vat car park.
Route. Burn O' Vat car park - Vat Burn - The Vat - Vat Burn - Loch Head - Muir of Dinnet - Burn O' Vat car park.
Notes. This easy ramble was a tranquil exploration of the Aberdeenshire countryside, a looping trail through the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. To my mind it was a forest walk, a thumbs down except for one astonishing feature, Burn O' Vat a glacial pothole formed around 13.000 years ago by melt water. At 42ft deep and 59ft wide this is a formidable hole accessed through a narrow slit via a set of stepping stones. It's just a pity the most interesting feature on this short walk was at the beginning, the best should always be kept until last.
We parked on the Burn O' Vat car park, a short walk passed the visitors centre and toilet block saw us reach a wooden foot-bridge, we ignored this continuing to a formidable wall of rock and jumble of massive boulders, this was the entrance to The Vat, not obvious at first but as we approached it became clear, a narrow slit allowed access to The Vat. The immense size of this water-carved bowl became evident when we passed through the narrow fissue immerging into a massive hole, no wonder The Vat has been a popular tourist attraction since Victorian times. We explored the bowl, scrambled up the waterfall before returning the way we came.
Back at the foot-bridge we crossed the burn climbed a low rise then stepped onto a narrow trod immerging from the left, forest paths then guide us through mixed woodland, a gentle ascent deposited us at a finger-post, we turned right signed Culblean Circular. With a narrow woodland track under foot we wandered on, the track passed through more mixed woodland with heather carpeting the forest flour, the top of a low rise marked the start of a long descent, the route now passed through pleasant scattered pinewoods and birch.
Eventually the track reached the main road, we crossed, passed through a gap in a wall and continued walking a green trod now under foot, this trod soon entered birch woods, to our left views to Loch Davan. We continued through woodland eventually immerging onto the main road opposite the Visitors Centre car park.
view route map.
Our starting point.
Approaching The Vat.
Sue enters The Vat.
Inside The Vat overhanging walls rise on two sides with a burn cascading over a low cliff to the rear.
The Vat Burn.
Yours truly entering The Vat.
The Vat Burn, a faint path follows the stream, we were tempted to follow it, with hindsight we should have.
Escaping the confines of the pine forest.
The route ahead....
....a little further along the track, birch woods welcomed us.
Views over the wetlands of the Muir of Dinnet National Nature reserve.
Birch woods passed through on the approach to the Visitors Centre.
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