River Don, Aberdeenshire

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River Don and Castle Forbes near Alford

The River Don flows for 82 miles, all of its course in Aberdeenshire, rising in the Grampian Mountains and reaching the North Sea at Aberdeen, to which city it gives a name, and therefore the county has its name from the river.

The Don passes through Alford, Kemnay, Inverurie, Kintore, and Dyce. Its main tributary, the River Ury, joins at Inverurie.

Course of the river

The Don rises in the peat flat beneath Druim na Feithe, and in the shadow of Glen Avon, before flowing quietly past the ice-age moraine and down to Cock Bridge, below the picturesque site of the recently demolished Delnadamph Lodge. Several streams, the Dhiver, Feith Bhait, Meoir Veannaich, Cock Burn and the Allt nan Aighean merge to form the embryonic Don. Water from the north of Brown Cow Hill (NJ230045) drains into the Don, while water from the west side runs into the River Spey and that from the south side into the Dee. The Don follows a circuitous route eastwards past Corgarff Castle, through Strathdon and the Howe of Alford before entering the North Sea just north of Old Aberdeen.

The chief tributaries are Conrie Water, Ernan Water, Water of Carvie, Water of Nochty, Deskry Water, Water of Buchat, Kindy Burn, Bucks Burn, Mossat Burn, Leochel Burn and the River Ury.


Strathdon attracts visitors for salmon and trout fishing as well as its castles and scenery.


The river may be that which was recorded by the 2nd century AD geographer Ptolemy of Alexandria (d. c 168) as Δηουανα Devona, a name apparently meaning 'goddess', rather as the same leaning is attributed to the River Dee. Near Kintore, not distant from the Don, is the Deers Den Roman Camp.

In 1750 the Don's lower reaches were channelled towards the sea, moving its confluence with the sea northwards.

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