A rewarding walk along the River Dee, starting from Cults Hotel, but the path by the river is narrow and unsurfaced, often muddy after rain; rough with exposed tree roots, fallen trees and there is always the danger of sections being flooded or washed away after heavy rain. Enjoy the views of the river and look for salmon jumping, heron stalking through the shallows, goosander, mallard and other wildlife.
Terrain: Roads, tarmacked paths but rough path along river – see text.
Distance: 3.5 miles; 5.6 km.
Time: Allow 2 hours.
Waymarked: yes – red. See text for exceptions.
The route goes along the Dee as far as the Robert Gordon University campus. The walk can be extended by going further down the river path to Bridge of Dee or, for an even longer walk (11.5 km), all the way to Duthie Park, where you can access the Deeside Way to return.
From Cults Hotel, cross the North Deeside Road and head down to Cults Station via Station Road. Join the Deeside Way for a few yards heading west and then take a signed steep path on left down to the Den of Cults. After a very short distance the route turns right and follows the Cults burn to the Inchgarth Road, opposite Shakkin Briggie. Turn left and walk along the road untill you meet the entrance to the reservoir.
From the gated entrance to Inchgarth Reservoir, where there are often gulls, swans and several types of duck in winter, such as wigeon and goldeneye; go along the tarmac road to the left. At the far end of the reservoir there is an open wetland area where you may see rarer birds as this is a former Nature Reserve which attracts migrant species. Access to the river path is through a narrow path to the left just before the gates to the reservoir buildings.
The path along the river is narrow, through grassland and mixed woodland, with patches of willow and alder. You will pass a post where Walk 1 (Inchgarth Reservoir) turns off, an old Aberdeen City boundary (pre-1975) stone and an abutment for a demolished foot bridge (date unknown), possibly built as this piece of land was previously an island.
At the end of the ‘old island’ the path turns towards the wooded steep bank (you might be lucky and catch a glimpse of a kingfisher here) and it becomes easier as you approach the campus with sections of boardwalk and wooden steps. Ignore the first step of steps up the bank where the path turns right along the river bank. A flight of steps leads up from the river to access the university grounds where surfaced paths and roads (not waymarked) lead to Garthdee Road. Turn west and when you reach a sharp bend turn right (not waymarked) into the new estate ‘Den of Pitfodels’. Head along Garthdee Farm Gardens road and at the back there is a way through to Deeside Way. Turn left (west) and return to Cults Station and back up to Cults Hotel.