Heritage Paths ~ The Steplar
Cairngorms National Park, Moray
The Steplar Return to Map
Start location: Rhindhu, Braes of Glenlivet (NJ 247 218)
End location: Aldunie, near Cabrach (NJ 370 269)
Geographical area: Cairngorms National Park, Moray
Path type: Drove Road
Path distance: 17km
Accessibillity info: Suitable for pedestrians
"Here is one great loneliness, low rolling hills and bare moorlands, with not a scrap of wood or green ground in sight, and the whole scene made more weird by a solitary granite tor, rising like a ruined keep on one of the distant hills" - Sir Henry Alexander.
From Rhindhu head north then northeast to Burnside of Thain, from where a path continues northeast over heather moor to the River Livet and joins the track to Suie, now deserted. Before Suie this track fords the Kymah Burn - the footbridge near Knochkan, a deserted red-roofed cottage upstream, is reportedly closed (September 2019).
About 300m beyond Suie bear right, leaving the better road which carries on up Glen Suie (the Glenfiddich Road), and follow an eroded bulldozed track round Carn na Bruar and down to ford the Black Water at NJ330267. The rough track continues up to the Dead Wife’s Hillock (543m), where there is a pedestrian gate in the deer fence, and then descends to a gate at the top of a large field. From there a clear track runs down to Aldivalloch, which is also deserted but from where a good road runs to Kirktown of Cabrach past Aldunie.
OS Landranger 36 (Grantown, Aviemore & Cairngorm area) & 37 (Strathdon)
The Steplar right of way and former drove road from the Cabrach to Glenlivet, a distance of 13 miles, crosses what must be some of the bleakest and, nowadays, least travelled hill routes in the country. This most definitely is a route to avoid in bad weather; Dead Wife's Hillock may well recall some poor woman who didn't make it. Historically, the Steplar road is said to have continued to Rhynie along the line of the present road.
Aldivalloch, scene of the song Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch, is derived from Allt a' Bhealaich which translates as burn of the pass.