Morven hillwalking and race route

Hiking and hill-race route up Morven from Cromar

The shortest and direct route up Morven begins from near Logie Coldstone in Cromar and takes the form of a steep heathery trudge followed by a gentle hike over a wide crest. This route is also used for the ascent on the Morven Hill Race, with a detour for the descent.

Route outline



Ascent 660m (2160ft)
Distance 9km (6m)
Time 3:20hr
Start/finish Balhennie, near Logie Coldstone
Grid Ref : NJ411043
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With obvious paths to follow to the summit, the direct route up Morven begins with a steep trudge up through heather gaining height fairly quickly with vast views opening up. Higher up, more gentle slopes and wide crest are crossed to reach the large untidy cairn and nearby trig point on Morven's summit.

Morven Hill Race takes place in October with the route following the direct line up and taking a detour on the descent. More information on the race can be found at Scottish Hill Runners.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Balhennie

Ruin at Balhennie

Ruin at Balhennie

Around 50km east of Aberdeen, the picturesque village of Ballater sits in Deeside. A few miles to the east of Ballater, the A97 heads north from Dinnet, and around 6km up this road, a sign marked 'Groddie' indicates the way up a dead-end single track road.

The road travels through forestry and Auchnerran to its end by a split in the road below the buildings at Groddie.

Parking is available by the bins at the junction or 100m before the junction opposite a gate.

2. Morven

Trig point on Morven's summit

Trig point on Morven's summit

From the junction, head back down the road to where there is a gate in a wall. Head through the gate into a field (there may be sheep in this), then follow obvious ATV tracks uphill to the ruined house of Balhennie - this is where the hill-race route begins from !

Above the ruin, two gates are gone through, to reach the bottom of a heathery climb. Look to the right (north-west) and you'll see a faint path crossing across some grassy ground - follow this as it then turns west and cuts a route through heather climbing steeply uphill. The path twists and turns up 350m of ascent before the gradient easies . Some soggy ground is crossed, then the gradient toughens once again .

Another 100m uphill and the path avoids the bouldery ground around Little Cairn on its south side, then turns along Morven's wide crest, where terrain underfoot makes for delightful trail-running.

A little further on, terrain gets rough and stoney under Mid Cairn before the summit crest is reached with Morven's cairn in view ahead.

The large and untidy cairn on Morven's summit rests just south of a trig point. Situated in an isolated position, views from the summit are quite vast.

3. Return and Hill Race detour

Cairn on Morven's summit

Cairn on Morven's summit

For most people, the return is simply a case of retracing steps back along the route taken up.

The hill-race route returns initially by retracing steps back past Mid Cairn (care needed if at speed) to Little Cairn . After descending 40m or so below Little Cairn, a rough, but obvious path heads off slightly to the right (south-east) . This path turns south, then south-west and as it does becomes more of a track.

The track meets up with Coinlach Burn , then swings east to make a fairly direct route back to the ruin at Balhennie - note that some of this last section of descent is twisty, fast and rough !

Route profile »

Maps and GPX downloads »

Other maps :
Explorer OL59
GPX file(s) :
Download GPX
of route
Always carry a decent compass.

Information on maps and GPX files is on this page.

Weather forecasts »

Alternative and nearby routes »

Brown Cow Hill from Corgarff Castle

Fine estate tracks lead to a delightful hillwalk on wide crests above Corgarff with fine views to Ben Avon to the west and Morven to the east.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 600m (1970ft)
Distance : 19km (12m)
Time : 5:45hr

Carn Mor from Scalan

Starting and possibly finishing at different points, this linear route discovers some interesting past lives and histories while bagging a heather-clad Carn Mor, north-east of the Lecht Ski Centre.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 450m (1480ft)
Distance : 6km (4m)
Time : 2:15hr

Carn Ealasaid from the Lecht

Starting from a height of the 635m by the Lecht Ski Centre, a fairly easy and short hillwalking route can be made over grass and heather to Carn Ealasaid.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 300m (980ft)
Distance : 7km (4m)
Time : 2:15hr

Mount Keen from Glen Tanar

Fine tracks following the old drove road through forests of Scots Pine lead to the "Mounth Road" and to Mount Keen's summit. The use of a bike for the 13km plus cycle to the foot of Mount Keen is recommended !

Peaks : 1 Munro

Ascent : 810m (2660ft)
Distance : 31km (19m)
Time : 3:30hr


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