Start location: entrance road to Craighead Farm, Schoolhill (NO 912 979)
End location: Cookney/Muchalls road near entrance to Nether Cairnhill (NO 896 929)
Geographical area: Grampian
Path Type: Medieval Road, Drove Road
Path distance: 5.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes
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From the entrance road to Craighead Farm follow the gravel access to the industrial sites. At the Badentoy Park road the track has been subsumed by the golf course but can still be followed by a dyke line to the Cairnwell road. From that point to the next public road south of Old Bourtreebush it is a good farm track. The access into the next part from the public road is by a footpath along the edge of a plantation for a short distance until a good track is joined leading to the Cammachmore road crossing and onward by Gillybrands farm to Windyedge. From Windyedge to Nether Cairnhill it is a good farm road, but the next 100m or so is gated off and is a grassy track. The final piece of the easily traceable Causey Mounth is a good farm road. Beyond this to the south the route has been lost to agriculture and moorland.
OS Landranger 45 (Stonehaven & Banchory)
One of the many Mounth Passes that cross the mounth, which is the expanse of hill and moor between Aberdeen and Drummochter. This is the most easterly Mounth Pass and a very old road leading to Aberdeen from the south.
Originally the Causey Mounth would have been accessed from the ford that crossed the Dee near Ruthrieston Burn to the Kincorth estate, which was known to have been in use by Ruadri, the first known Earl of Mar in the mid-12th Century, who had a Motte and Bailey stronghold nearby. Later horse and cattle dealers described crossing the ford to get to "Ruadri’s Toun Tryst", eventually giving the area the name Ruthrieston.
The old road then wended its way past the farm of Tollohill where in 1639 the first Marquess of Montrose stood looking to the north before descending on the Royalists with 9000 covenanters at the Bridge of Dee.
Further south the Causey Mounth crosses Hare Moss, once called Drumforskie Moor and thought to be the inspiration for Walter Scott’s Drumthwacket in "A Legend of Montrose". The Hare Moss we see now is a minute remnant of the huge expanse of moor the Causey Mounth crossed before industrial scale drainage in the 17th century. Further still the road passes Gillybrands Farm, formerly Jeally Branns Inn.
The road’s etymology comes from the two causeys or embankments that were built to stop the road sinking into the moor. It was also called the Cowy or Cowie Mounth at times due to its southern terminus at the now lost village of Cowie.
As the main route into Aberdeen from the south the road has seen a huge amount of traffic from famous characters like Edward III, Oliver Cromwell, Dr Samuel Johnson and Robert Burns. In its later years it was extensively used as a drove road to take cattle to the market at Ruthrieston and was only usurped as the principal route when wheeled traffic and the postal service had trouble using it in the 18th century and the route of the A90 was developed. Although there are no physical remains of the historic road there are a number of place names along the way that point to its long and varied history and travelling it now gives an idea as to the problems faced by road planners and engineers a thousand years ago.
The Heritage Paths project is pleased to announce that Neil Ramsay (our former Project Officer) and Nate Pedersen (one of our earliest volunteers) have teamed up to write an ebook - The Mounth Passes - with photography by long-standing ScotWays member Graham Marr. If you too are interested in the heritage of these old ways through the Grampian Mountains, we highly recommend it.