Seven Bridges and Knock Castle, Ballater

7 Bridges Walk near Ballater

Discover a beautiful walk in the highlands

There are plenty of things to do in Ballater. One of the best is hiking through the highlands because of the stunning landscape. Seven Bridges walk has water, mountains and much more just on your doorstep. You can follow our step-by-step guide and enjoy a relaxed day in the nature. So, let’s get started.

Old Railway Station in Ballater - Starting point for Seven Bridges Walk

Walk Directions

This is a circular walk in which you will explore some of the spectacular countryside around Ballater. If you feel adventurous do the detour to 16th century Knock Castle.

The circuit is well marked and you will walk over some lovely riverside paths and peaceful woodland trails. 

Along the way you will get great views of the Cairngorms Mountains because of the surrounding area. You will cross seven different bridges over the River Dee and the River Muick.

Ballater to Bridge of Muick

So, the walk starts in the town centre at the restored railway station of Ballater. This important piece of village history, which was in the past been used by the Royals to travel by train to nearby Balmoral Castle, was destroyed because of a fire in 2015. The building is now restored and you can find Visit Scotland Information Centre here. So be sure to swing by and discover some history. 

From there you follow a blue waymarked path to Ballater Bridge and cross the river. After the bridge you cross the road and head SW along the woodland path parallel with the South Deeside Road. It is also signposted to the Bridge of Muick. 

Passing a memorial cairn dedicated to Sir Allan Russel MacKenzie and Mackenzies of Glenmuick with a great view of Ballater and woodland lochan. You keep going along this path to a crossroads with a cairn commemorating Queen Victoria and cross the Bridge of Muick and keep walking along the road. Oftentimes there is Highland cattle grazing in the fields here so be keep your eyes peeled.

Knock castle detour

There is a possible detour which will lead you to Knock Castle, but you can decide on this as you walk. You keep walking on the road until you reach a bend. From here you continue upwards along the steep woodland path before joining the road again for some more climbing. 

Shortly after you find the Castle on your right and great views over the area. The Knock Castle is a ruin of a four story tower house from the sixteenth century. Traditionally, a home of a Scottish Laird – this tower belonged to Gordons and it has an interesting history. Once hearing of the murder of all of his seven sons by the Forbes clan, he fell down the stairs to his death. 

Dalhefour wood to ballater

After returning to the original track you will walk through Dalhefour Wood along The Avenue (north west) and enjoy a lush forest planted with native Scots pines. 

When you leave Dalhefour Wood you cross the river on Polhollick Bridge, a white iron suspension bridge dating from the late 19th century, which is undoubtedly a highlight of this walk. After, you turn east and follow a riverside path to the Bridge of Gairn. 

Here you cross the river Gairn and turn south east to follow the trail along the river Dee and back into the town centre. Just before reaching Ballater this section of trail takes you through wonderful oak woods with great views of River Dee as it follows what was intended to be a new railway line towards Balmoral.

additional sections from ballater

Back in Ballater you can take a stroll in the Craigdendarroch oakwoods with a wonderful view of the surrounding area from the summit of Craigdendarroch. 

You could also explore more of Pannanich Woods which you passed briefly through on the way and include a steep hike up to the wonderful viewpoint of Craig Coillich where, if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot a capercaillie.

Another option is to head west to visit the Balmoral Estate from the nearby village of Crathie, where you can try the Balmoral Cairns walk.

This walk visits the historic castle and a series of cairns dedicated to the members of the British Royal family.  

There are many walks in the Ballater area so make sure to bring your best walking boots.

Walk Gallery

Seven Bridges Walk near Ballater

Ballater Royal Bridge looking back at the village

Things to do in Ballater - River walk

View of river Dee from Ballater Royal Bridge

Walking through the forest in one the best things to do in the Highlands

Path through Pannanich Woods parallel with South Deeside Road

View of Ballater from Mackenzies of Glenmuick cairn

Route is signposted with blue arrows

Look at the River Dee on your walk through the Highlands

View of the river Dee and Craigdendarroch hill

Image credit: Ceranna Photography

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