Question asked after 2017 walks, now able to answer based on feedback from the Estate:

Do the estates have a set number of shoots a season, if so how do they ensure they have sufficient birds?

"The answer is more complex than a simple number, firstly the keepers monitor the breeding stock, taking grouse counts over a number of areas, then work through how this translates over the estate. That enables the Estate to estimate the numbers they expect to shoot. Then on commencement of shoots, they monitor how many old birds are being shot in comparison with young birds, thus enabling them to either continue with more shoots or ceasing. The objective is to leave a healthy breeding population on the hill as the hill can only support a finite number of grouse as they have set territories, available food, water along with the risk of disease particularly tick burden. Heather burningis a key to creating a mixture of habitat and food source for the grouse."

Explore the natural beauty of the Cairngorms surrounding Ballater with a series of guided walks.  All ages and levels are welcome and with a full social calendar you are sure to have an outstanding time


The Walks

Ballater Walking Festival offers a programme designed for walkers of all capabilities from Munro-bagging to pleasant rambles. Each walker can choose to take part in whatever grade of walk they feel suits them best and can participate on as many as six days or as few as one. Most of the walks are situated within the Cairngorms National Park, though a few enter parts of West Aberdeenshire or the Angus Glens which border the Park.
Each day, three categories of walk are available: Easy, Medium and Strenuous. Easy walks are up to six or seven miles long and normally have a minimum of gradient; Medium walks typically measure around ten to twelve miles and may include some substantial hills or the occasional Munro. Strenuous walks either include several hundred metres of ascent or are of considerable length. A professional mountain guide normally leads the Strenuous walks. Other walks are led by local residents, full-time rangers from Aberdeenshire Council or Balmoral Estate, many of whom have special knowledge of the wild life, vegetation or local history which they are happy to share with visitors

Having Fun

Fun is the theme of the week whether that be walking, catching up with old friends or making new friends during the week.  There is a full schedule of entertainment and Ballater offers a mix of hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars to while away the evenings regaling the events of the day. 

An evening entertainment programme starts with the formal registration and reception on the Saturday where you mix with other walkers, along with the leaders and local residents who will accompany  you on the walks.

Other highlights include dinner, probably on Wednesday, at a local restaurant and remember to save some energy for the popular traditional Ceilidh on the Friday.


Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Cairngorms National Park is a living, working landscape with wild land at its heart.

Larger than the Lake District and twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the park contains some of the best wildlife habitats in the UK and its ancient pine forests, arctic mountain tops, lochs, rivers and moorlands are home to a quarter of the nation's threatened species.

Nowhere else in the British Isles can visitors enjoy such a collection of outstanding environments in one place in such a variety of different ways. Regardless of age or interest the park and its communities offer something for everybody,