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.....