Bochel Circuit (Walk 10)
10km/6.2 miles Allow 3-4 hours
It is likely that both sheep and cattle will be encountered on this walk – please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Also check field before entering and detour to avoid cattle if necessary. Keep dogs on a lead or under close control and if threatened by cattle release your dog.
Tombae car park (Nr Tomnavoulin): NJ 218 257 - Following green arrow waymarkers with tree logo in the centre.
From the car park, walk back to the public road and turn left following the road a short distance, until the it bends left and you see a pedestrian gate ahead. Pass through the gate to reach the a track and follow it through the trees, before crossing the River Livet at the bridge. Continue on the track as it starts along a field, but then turn right off the track and cross the field towards another less substantial wooden bridge. Cross over the Crombie water here and then veer left and uphill through the gate. Continue along the edge of the farm fields, following the southern bank of the Crombie, before dropping down onto a section of boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk you reach another footbridge over the river. This bridge marks the junction of the paths which circle the Bochel and the point to which you will return to retrace your steps to the car park.
Cross the footbridge and head up through the birch trees turning right to join the track in the woods. In the summer months this is a good spot to see Scotch Argus butterflies. Follow this track until you emerge from the trees, then continue in the same direction across the open heather moor at the base of the steep north side of the Bochel hill. Keep on the vague track as it crosses the sometimes boggy moor across the shoulder between Carn Tullich and the Bochel, until you reach the hill fence above the fields of the Glack where the junction with walk 3 is met. Here the view opens up into the Braes of Glenlivet, an area steeped in history.
If you wish you can include an ascent up the Bochel, from this point head southwest up the fairly uniform slope to the summit (491m). From the top there are outstanding views of the Braes and surrounding hills. To rejoin the walk, head south eastwards from the top, downhill to the corner of the Bochel wood plantation, picking up the track as it enters the woods.
Avoiding this ascent, stay above the fence line and continue along the track which merges with numerous sheep walks as it skirts the base of the hill, the views from here are almost as expansive as they are from the top. As you reach the fence before the house, turn right and follow the track which leads across a field into the Bochel wood plantation. As you descend through the plantation keep an eye out for red squirrels in the tree tops. As you emerge from the trees follow the track as it crosses the Crombie Water and heads uphill to join the road.
Just where the track joins the road a large stone sits on top of a plinth. A close look at the stone will reveal the initials “W.G” and the date “1710” scratched into the rock. This was reputedly done to commemorate a William Gordon, former tenant of Nether Auchnarrow farm. Turn right onto the road and continue past the ‘Kirkie’ – a cottage at the apex of a sharp bend of the road. This small building was originally built as a place of worship for the Protestant residents of the Braes. As the road crosses the bridge just the other side of the bend, turn right over a stile, leaving the road, to follow the farm track, which passes above Refreish (an old millers cottage).
Continue along this track as it follows a ridge, known as The Baden, through several gates until turning right, leaving the track and heading downhill into a small fenced wooded area. Follow the path through the trees and then parallel to the Crombie water, dropping down to return to the footbridge and completing the circuit. Return to the car park by retracing your outward route along the path through the fields, across the two bridges and back up to the Tombae road.
Before turning up the quarry track you may want to take a moment to explore the churchyard of the Tombae Church of the Incarnation, where you will see the grave of George Smith.