A circular route up Morrone, the prominent corbett overlooking Braemar, with a descent through the Morrone Birkwood SSSI.
Distance: 10.8 km 6.7 miles
Ascent: 585 m / 200 feet
Terrain: paths, tracks and heathery hillside
Start / finish: Braemar Duck Pond car park at the end of Chapel Brae
Facilities: free parking, refreshments and toilets in Braemar
The route starts directly from the Duck Pond car park following the path from the car park around the pond and up the hill through woodland. A track is joined for a short distance, passing a house before another path leads up to a viewpoint and then to a junction with a signpost.
Take the path signed for Morrone (the Morrone Birkwood option can be used for the descent) heading directly up hill. Although somewhat steep this is a relatively easy ascent on a stony path. The radio mast at the summit comes into sight quite some time in advance of actually reaching the summit though!
Sadly the summit is not the most attractive but it does afford excellent views across to the main Cairngorms, eastwards to Lochnagar and across to the Glen Shee area.
Start the descent south west on the landrover track aiming towards a minor summit at 824m. Once this top is reached, leave the track in a north westerly direction on short cropped heather and heath. As height is lost the heather does thicken a bit but is still relatively easy going. A flat wet area must be crossed before further descent to pick up a quad bike track at the corner of the forest ahead of you.
Keep to the track, which takes you into the forest area and turns easterly. At a crossroad junction keep straight on, heading downhill until you reach the public road. Don’t join the road but go through a metal pedestrian gate on the same side of the road, to join another forestry track. Stick with the main track at junctions (left, right, right) to reach a pond. A path goes around the pond to its east side where you meet yet anther track where you want to turn left. This track soon splits with the right hand option bringing you to a gate into the Morrone Birkwood.
The remainder of the walk is through the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and is a lovely finish to the route, especially in Autumn. There are two options, the high route and the low route, both indicated by a marker post. The higher route is more wooded through birch and juniper whilst the lower route is more open with scattered vegetation. Either option is an easy enough walk on an obvious path. The higher route will bring you back to the signpost close to the viewpoint that reached early on in the walk, from where you can head back downhill to the car park. The lower route will emerge at the road end close to the duck pond.
View / download this route from Ordnance Survey
View / download this route from Viewranger