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Path of the Month
The Steplar
The Steplar

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The Steplar

Start location: Rhindhu, Braes of Glenlivet (NJ 247 218)
End location: Aldunie, near Cabrach (NJ 370 269)

Geographical area: Moray
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 17km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians

Route Description

"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)

Heritage Information

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.



Copyright: Richard Webb | Credits: Cook's Cairn (754m) above The Steplar, a mounth road connecting Glen Livet with the Deveron. No doubt once favoured by whisky smugglers.

Copyright: Roger Boston | Credits: Ford across the Black Water.

Copyright: Stanley Howe | Credits: Approach to Aldunie from Aldivalloch. The first building on the right was 'Auld Nell's'. Aldunie is one of only a small number of farms in the Cabrach which are still occupied.




Click here to view this path on a map


Copyright: Dreamer | Credits: Footbridge near Knochkan, an upstream alternative to fording the Kymah Burn (but reported in September 2019 as closed). Copyright: ronnie leask | Credits: At an altitude of 1,781 feet on the crest of a ridge is the Dead Wife's Hillock. It appears that over the years sheep sheltering here have worn a deep trench around the hillock. This most definitely is a route to avoid in bad weather. Copyright: Anne Burgess | Credits: From a distance the keeper's cottage at Aldivalloch looks in quite good repair, but it is also abandoned, like all its neighbours.
Copyright: John Ferguson | Credits: Knochkan, a derelict cottage on the track to Cook's Cairn, below the ruins of Suie.


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