Crossing the Houstry Burn by the footbridge, Dunbeath broch is reached by climbing the path to its prominent position between the Burn and Dunbeath Water. A modern wall in the shape of a 'D' has been built around it to protect it from stock. The broch is in a ruinous condition, but in the summer of 1990 Dunbeath Preservation Trust undertook the consolidation work. The guard cell, a further interior cell and the entrance are still evident. Dunbeath broch is the best preserved of several brochs in the Strath. The Annals of Ulster mention of siege if Dunbeath in 680 AD, possibly by Brude, a Pictish king on his way north. One might imagine it was this broch that was besieged.
Continuing on the north side of the river, the path takes you through the lovely hazel, downy birch, rowan and bird cherry woodlands. The Strath is famed for its hazel nuts, which may be picked in the autumn. It is very sheltered and is a haven for many birds including buzzards, which may be seen soaring above and quartering the slopes. If you are lucky you may see the little dark brown and white dipper flitting on the rocks in the river bed and diving under the water in search of small crustacea and caddis fly larvae. It turns the stones over in its attempts to dislodge its prey. Roe deer also live in these woodlands. During the summer months there is a wealth of wildflowers, mosses and ferns to be found.
The Dunbeath Water, looking back towards Milton
A meadow beside the river is called the Picnic Green and was, in the past, the scene of many village celebrations. High above the river on the south side is the beautifully situated Balcraggie Lodge, a shooting lodge built in the 1880s (private). Passing up on the path alongside an old plantation of mature beechwoods you come to a grassy mound adjacent to the end of the footbridge, this is the remains of another broch.