Discover a tranquil lochan with an excellent wee bothy on this route near the pretty town of Braemar. The walk starts at Auchallater, a cluster of farm buildings, on the A93 south of Braemar where the road passes over the Callater Burn at a bridge. Parking spaces are provided just off the road opposite the farm buildings.
The track is signposted as a right of way to Glen Doll via Jock's Road and passes through a gate before curving round the steep little knoll of Sron Dubh. A track branches off the route and cuts a sharp zig-zag up this rise to give a fine view of Glen Cluanie if you have the inclination.
The main path follows the bank of Callater Burn which tumbles merrily over a rocky bed producing numerous cascades and miniature waterfalls.
After about three kilometres the path crosses a wooden bridge and the waterway curves off to your right and is quickly lost to view. Another kilometre brings a junction, the right fork climbing up the Bealach Buidhe towards Carn Dubh, the left reacquainting you with the burn (on the opposite bank now) and eventually the stout little Lochcallater Lodge. Callater Stables bothy is situated to the left of the lodge as you approach and is reached by passing through a wooden gate. This delightful open shelter, maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, makes a perfect place to stop for a brew. When we visited in July we were greeted by inquisitive wagtails who crept ever closer in the hope of picking up a crumb or two.
To make a circuit of the loch, head southwest past the lodge and cross the burn at a bridge before picking up the Land Rover track which cuts along the south shore. The track undulates as it hugs the loch side but no real effort is required. At the end of the loch the path thins out into a single track which become ever more indistinct as you pass some muddy reed beds. To gain the path on the opposite side of the valley you must cross the Allt an Loch. In summer this presents no real difficulty and if you are wearing boots and gaiters it is highly likely that you can run the burn without getting your socks wet. We opted to remove our boots and paddle through at the point where the tiny Allt a Chlaiginn joins the confluence.
The track on this northern side is strictly single file and can be quite muddy in places. Take care on certain sections where it runs close to the edge of the loch. As you get nearer the lodge, a couple of nice shingly beaches are passed. There is also a large pyramidal rock at the water's edge here which makes for a fine photo stop with the cliffs of Creag Leachdach and Tolmount in the background.
Climb up over a grassy slope, negotiate a stiled fence and cross the burn to reach the lodge and bothy. Simply retrace your steps back home down Glen Callater with tantalising glimpses of the Cairngorms dominating the skyline ahead.
Distance 9 miles/15km. ;
Map OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 43. ;
Start/parking Auchallater on the A93 (grid ref NO 156883). ;
Grading An easy, level walk suitable for all ages and abilities. Remember that a river crossing must be made if you intend circumnavigating the loch. Take some provisions for a picnic at the bothy, but carry your rubbish home with you.