Start location: B976 at Birsemore (NO 524 977)
End location: Junction with the Firmounth (NO 499 854)
Geographical area: Grampian, Angus and Tayside
Path Type: Smugglers' Path, Drove Road
Path distance: 14.3km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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From the bridge over the River Dee go south up The Fungle by a steep road between Birsemore Hill and Craigendinnie to a cottage, The Guard. From there a track continues through woodland and across the Allt Dinnie to join a track which goes south over the col south-west of Carnferg to Birse Castle. Leave this track before reaching the castle and turn south at a Scottish Rights of Way (SRWS) signpost to follow a path to another SRWS signpost at NO521900.
From there the route continues SSW up a path on the west side of the stream to the col between Mudlee Bracks and Tampie. 800 metres beyond the col the path joins the Firmounth and descends by Shinfur and the Water of Tarf to Tarfside village in Glen Esk.
OS Landranger 44 (Ballater & Glen Clova)
Sir James Balfour of Denmilne (1600-1651) prepared a list of Mounth passes which is printed in the Spalding Club Collections on the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, printed in 1843. He calls this route the Forest of Birse Mounth, "from Cairn Corse to Birse on Deeside". Cairncross is at Tarfside. The route is shown on Roy’s map and so must have been an important road at the time.
This is one of the most important of the Mounth Passes and is said to have been frequented by many whisky smugglers.
The Heritage Paths project is pleased to announce that Neil Ramsay (our former Project Officer) and Nate Pedersen (one of our earliest volunteers) have teamed up to write an ebook - The Mounth Passes - with photography by long-standing ScotWays member Graham Marr. If you too are interested in the heritage of these old ways through the Grampian Mountains, we highly recommend it.