The Ley Way Walk and Crathes Castle.

Start. Crathes Castle.

Route. Crathes Castle - Caroline's Garden - Ley Wood - Denwood Belt - Carlieth Wood - Mill Pond - Milton Wood - Crathes Castle.

Notes. Crathes Castle a few miles east of Banchory, a magnificent 16th century tower house, formerly owned by the Burnett family, gifted to the National Trust in 1951 by the 13th Baronet of Leys Sir James Burnett. Not only is the castle well worth a visit, (I'd recommend it), a number of way-marked trails lead through the grounds, we opted to follow the Ley Way the longest of them taking in a good mix of woodland and parkland. With changeable weather sweeping through the Dee valley it wasn't a case of “not another woodland walk”, at least the tree cover gifted us some shelter.

From the castle car park we made for the entrance to the castle, turned our backs on the building then followed the right hand of two paths, almost immediately the path forked, the right hand fork was clearly signed Ley Way, this we followed our way marked by red arrows. That was that red arrows all the way from here, you couldn't go wrong.

Through various species of woodland we wandered, passed some fine specimen trees, over soft forest paths and hard castle drive ways. A couple of features stood out for me, Caroline's Garden, a damp shaded spot in the woodland, alive with ferns and moisture loving plants, a section of boardwalk above damp ground shadowing the Coy Burn a great spot to look out for wood anemones and wood sorrel. As we wandered along the edge of the burn a woodpecker could clearly be heard, the mill pond was a charming place, inclement weather forced us to shelter under a massive yew, witnesses to four seasons in half an hour.

So there you have it, Crathes Castle and a woodland ramble I'd well recommend, that's from somebody who hates woodland walking. If you ever have the pleasure to visit the Dee valley spend some time at Crathes Castle, earlier this week we spent a day at Balmoral, Crathes Castle may be tiny in comparison but sometimes smaller is better.

view route map.


Dating back to the 16th century, Crathes Castle, built by the Burnetts of Leys it was held in that family for almost 400 years, the castle and grounds are now run and managed by the National Trust.

A delight to wander through, Caroline's Garden.

Easy walking over the tarmac surface of one of the castle drives.

The route ahead.

Recently forestry work gifts us with views over the Dee valley.

Ley Wood, a delightful place to ramble.

Carlieth Wood seen across crop fields.

Coy Burn....

....followed by a wander over boardwalk, one of two sections in Denbelt Wood.

Reflections, the Coy Burn.

Sue gazes into the peaty waters of the Coy Burn.

Farm buildings at Candieshill.

Fed by the Coy Burn the mill pond.

A pleasant place to stroll around, the mill is actually across the main road at Milton of Crathes, it has been converted into a visitors and craft centre.

Sheltering under the branches of an ancient yew, we've just had rain, hale, sleet and snow, and now the sun's about to shine.

Milton Wood.

Finally the estate cemetery.

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