Tuesday, 19 January 2016
A significant view from the Tap o'Noth
One of the most distinctive hills in the north east of Scotland, Tap o' Noth with its sawn-off cone of a summit lying at the end of a ridge is one of the familiar landmarks of Aberdeenshire. On a walk along the Correen Hills I realised that it had been more than a year since I'd climbed it despite the hill being barely fifteen minutes drive from home.
A couple of days later a dry-ish day and a few spare hours gave me the chance to revisit. I started from the tiny car park below the highest point of the hill from where a straightforward ascent can be made. The route climbs on a track through farmland before contouring out on a level grassy area with the summit cone straight ahead.
The village of Rhynie seems very close from just below the summit area. The village is mainly known for the Rhynie Chert, an early Devonian sedimentary rock deposit aged about 410 million years which contains the earliest known insect fossil, and a strong Pictish connection - of which more shortly....
To the south west there's a long view across to the Buck o' the Cabrach , itself a noted viewpoint lying between Strathdon and Glenfiddich with grandstand views to the Cairngorms.
On the subject of grandstand views, the extent of the view from Tap o'Noth is shown on an information board just below the summit area. Each circle is a 5 kilometre extension with the outer, 50 kilometre ring showing the potential view on clear days. From the North Sea at the city of Aberdeen to the Moray Firth, south to the Angus Hills and west to the high Cairngorms, it's a marvellous panorama from a hill which is just 563 metres/1847 feet high.
Probably the most significant elements of the view are direct sight lines to the Pictish fort at Burghead on the Moray Firth, to the hillfort summit of Bennachie and below to Rhynie itself.
Significant because the entire summit area of Tap o'Noth consists of a huge hillfort; the second highest in Scotland and one of the largest at 21 hectares in area. The best angle from which to get a sense of the scale and extent of the place is from above, as in this image from the Canmore archive.
I first climbed Tap o'Noth when we moved to Aberdeenshire some 15 years ago - I was blown away by the fort then and every time I return it has the same effect - let me show you around......