Thursday, 17 January 2013

Soaking up the atmosphere on Coiliochbhar Hill

 The summit area of Coiliochbhar Hill is approached from the track via a wood of Larch trees; this wood is very prominent in the view of the hill from the A944 road along the River Don from where Coiliochbhar appears to block the valley.

 Even in winter this wood is a really atmospheric place.  Carpeted with mosses and woodrushes, it has the feel of a cloud-forest, an almost other-worldly pace.


The branches of the Larches are draped with enormous quantities of lichens of various types, all dripping wet in the misty atmosphere.


Emerging from the wood, the view to the east consisted of shades of grey and black, stark tree silhouettes and softer shapes of cloudbanks and hills beyond.  The wider view reminded me in some ways of a Japanese scene.


The top of Coiliochbhar Hill is marked by a small cairn adjacent to a fence line.  For such a small hill (533 metres/1749 feet) there is a fairly wide view over the farmlands of Donside and across to the Ladder Hills.  the summit peeking above the mist is Bennachie - that most distinctive of north-east hills.


To the west, the sun was burnishing the mist to a  pewter hue; beyond the lowering cloud-bank gave warning to the approach of the snow which has since blanketed much of the north of Scotland.

Returning to the Larch wood, I came across probably the highlight of the day as the sun burst through the mist and threw gorgeous shafts of light through the trees.  The effect was spellbinding and I took many, many images in an attempt to capture the atmosphere of this special place.  Just moving one's head a few feet to left or right gave completely contrasting effects - just magical.

If you climb Coiliochbhar Hill (and you really should if you're able to), do it soon.  On the line of my descent towards the Howe of Alford is this anemometer mast.  There are plans to put a wind factory of large turbines on the slopes of this hill.


  1. Hi Ian,

    I was up there a couple of years ago, I assume you can see the new windfarm above Kildrummy from there?

    Regards, John

  2. Hi John, and Happy New Year!

    Yes, the Kildrummy turbine array is well visible from the summit area - not competed yet but fairly spreading across the hill

    Kind regards