Aberdeen City Rides - Countesswells Loop
This loop keeps you off the beaten track in the popular Countesswells Woods area with some Highland Cattle, a mansion and a dovecot thrown in.
Head east from the Hazlehead Golf Club along the road and then track between the Mackenzie and Pine Golf Courses. The course is named after Dr Mackenzie, who built course all over the world including Augusta in Georgia home of the US Open. Just after the Triangle Shed at the top of the hill, take a path through the hedge, that runs parallel to the main path. Follow the hedge and tree line all the way to the corner of the wood. This last section is typical of the trail conditions on this ride. There are a few stumps, rocks and roots. If this is not for you then take the alternatives, or of course, just walk a bit. If this is the case here, then any right turn will take you back to the main drag.
From the corner of the wood, head for the pylon, and take in the view back in towards Aberdeen. Continue along the wall line ahead and then down to the track at the bottom of the hill (a rare steep section). Turn right, and then main path south of the new houses. Then the best route is straight ahead through the white barriers with red signs. Carefully cross the road into Countesswells Woods.
There are many great paths through the woods, thanks to Scottish Forestry and Land. Take what suits you to get to the southwest corner of the woods on the Blacktop Road. My recommendation,is left at the 2nd fork from the carpark, over the hill. There is a bit of nice single track in the woods just to the right of the made path. Then down hill and right following the edge of the field to the left. Just as the path goes back into the woods again, take another another rooty, stumpy, single track section on the left. Or the alternate, which is left later on the main path. Join the path again and go uphill, to the ridge line and turn left. Follow this track until is crosses the another main path, and trend diagonally down to the right. Again there are a few trails, and stumps and roots. For the steadiest gradient stay right, until you are close to the road. From here there is a great view across Deeside to Clachnaben and, if you're lucky, a snow-capped Lochnagar.
Turn left up the road to the gate on the opposite side, and follow the track until it emerges on road. The only hazard here is a few untidy dog owners. Hillhead Farm has a fold of Highland Cattle(as Highland herds are known). There are also great examples of dykes (dry stone walls). Some are the wide "dump and hole" type made with stone taken from the fields made to fence cattle in the 1700s. Go through a metal gate into the woods on the left below Hilton Farm (be careful that only one person handles the gate). Follow the track to the left, round to the road and head through the gate pillars with the gold pier caps.
This is the furthest point now, so left turn back up hill on Dalmuinzie Road, keeping right through private grounds. At the very end of the road take a trail across the grass from the turning bays. Your heading to the pylon, so lift your bikes across the wall junction. After the pylon follow the path left and on to the road. Climb the short sharp hill passed Dalhebity House, former home of Princess Diana's grandmother and lady in waiting to the Queen Mother, although the family home has been re-built for Stuart Milne, Chairman on Aberdeen Football Club.
Turn in to Ladyhill Road, then left in to the woods at the car park after the cottage. Your heading to the northernmost corner of the wood behind Countesswells House. Again there are a few trails. I went out of the lefthand corner of the carpark, turned left, then bore right at the fork and headed downhill. At the rightangle bend behind the garden, turn off the made track through the woods and cross the field to Countesswells Road. You will catch a glimpse of a Dovecot from the path. There are a couple of these along Deeside.
Follow Countesswells Road back to town for a kilometer, then turn left on to a path that follows the hedge at the side of the golf course - some lumps and stumps again - and re-join the main path just after the Triangle Hut. You've completed the loop, so make your way home from here.