Monday, 28 March 2016

Millstone Hill and Bennachie - a look back to winter

This is the last group of posts from a period in late November 2015 when a strong northerly airflow lay over Scotland bringing cold, windy  but mainly dry conditions. The strong winds continued for most of the month with persistent gale to severe gale conditions over the higher mountains and rough conditions on the sea giving little chance for sea kayaking.

There was still good walking to be had on the lower hills though, and a dusting of of overnight snow followed by a bright and sunny day was too good to miss.  My favourite local hill is Bennachie, one of the most distinctive hills in the north east of Scotland; I try to climb it at least once each period of leave from work and with the roads tricky in the early morning it seemed a great time to do so.

Although it involves a bit more effort, in my view the best route to Bennachie first traverses Millstone Hill, starting from the Donview car park.  This route climbs straight from the start with views opening up over the River Don below.

A granite bench near to top of the treeline offers superb views across the Aberdeenhire countryside - a good excuse for a break from the steep climb!

         Soon enough the summit of Millstone Hill is reached and the view across to Bennachie is revealed.

Although not the highest summit of the several which comprise Bennachie, the Mither Tap is by far the most prominent.  It's a hill which inspires tremendous affection in Aberdeenshire folk - an for me as so many others, the first sighting whether from road or perhaps on an incoming flight signals "home".

My onward route descends to the trees at the "Heather Brig", a dip between the hills, before climbing the path clearly visible straight towards the volcanic granite plug of the Mither Tap.

I made this climb on St Andrew's day, and so this saltire formed by snow being scoured across cracks in a granite slab seemed very appropriate 

Down at the Heather Brig it was sheltered from the wind and the snow was lying where it had fallen, edging every branch against a blue winter sky - it was such a great day to be out on the hill.....


  1. You're right, Ian, when "sea level" doesn't work, "elevation" fits the bill, every time. One can "feel" the cold, clear air in the images. I'm pretty sure we noted the Mither Tap when we were up your way last week. Warm wishes and talk soon.

    1. It was a cracking day Duncan, a hill well worth the climb!

      Warm wishes

  2. Nice winter photos Ian. A hill I've had my eye on for ages but I need a carload of like minded Glasgow hill-walkers to share the petrol for an Aberdeen weekend trip and so far there's no takers stepping forward to volunteer. Munro fixated as usual in all the clubs I'm in.

    1. Thanks Bob, Bennachie would make a super "Sunday hill" after a Saturday on something like Lochnagar on a Saturday :o)

      Kind Regards