Willie’s View: To The Burn o’ Vat

Shutterstock / loumacrae20 © The Burn o' Vat

Willie’s in scenic Aberdeenshire for a visit to the Burn o’ Vat.

Just a few miles east of Ballater and a short distance along the road from Tarland, a wee forest car park sits close to Loch Kinord.

The loch — and its smaller neighbour, Loch Davan — were formed at the end of the last ice edge. Huge blocks of ice became buried in sediment. Over time, the ice melted, leaving behind these “kettlehole” lochs.

I thought I’d stop off here on my way home from a walk at Kincardine o’ Neil. I took the trail round Loch Kinord, but not before visiting the impressive “Vat” on the Burn o’ Vat.

Burn o’ Vat: A Natural Wonder

It’s one of the natural wonders of Scotland. The only way to reach it is on your feet and, if there’s a lot of water in the burn, you might well end up getting them wet!

Following the burn upstream brings us to what looks like an impenetrable wall of rock. There is a way past it, though. It takes a squeeze through the narrow gap that the burn passes through. Fortunately, this afternoon, the stepping stones weren’t submerged.

Through the gap we’re now inside the “Vat”. It’s a massive water-carved cavern almost 65 feet wide. 50 feet high, it has a burn cascading into it at one end.

How many thousands of years did it take trapped rocks to create this? Swirling in a river infinitely greater than the tiny Burn o’ Vat…

In the 1600s, the MacGregors frequented the Vat – and it wasn’t to admire the geology. This place made a perfect hidey-hole for stolen cattle.

Even if you might have to get your feet wet, it’s definitely worth coming to see.



Read more from Willie’s travels around Scotland.

Willie Shand