Sunday, 3 April 2016

A look back to winter - brilliant Bennachie

 Brilliant low winter sunlight and a cutting northerly breeze wrung tears from the eyes on the summit of Bennachie; I'd wanted to linger and enjoy what would be my last hillwalk before a period of months away at work, but the wind put paid to a leisurely summit experience.....

I've climbed this hill many times but there's always something new and I'd not previously noticed this carving in the granite near the summit trig point.  Somebody in the 19th century took a good deal of time and effort to carve out the relief and then the lettering in what I suppose should be considered grafitti, but admittedly stylish grafitti - some sets of initials and the date of the visit.  Presumably the north wind wasn't quite so flaying when this was done!

My onward route over to the highest point of Bennachie, Oxen Craig, was an obvious white line where the snow lay on the path but had been blown from the surrounding heather.  Away in the distance, another distinctive hill, Tap o' Noth, bore a broad wreath of snow.

From below the west side, the tor of the Mither Tap looks a formidable obstacle but there are routes for the walker even here.

From farther away the view changes to the distinctive shape of the landmark visible from so much of Aberdeenshire 

On the broad slab forming the summit of Oxen Craig another grafitti artist had been at work.  It's possible that the "T" stands for Tillyfourie, an estate lying on the banks of the River Don below the hill.

I managed to get some shelter from the biting wind at the foot of the highly featured granite outcrop at Oxen Craig, with a good view back over to Millstone Hill, my first hill of the day.  Already the sun was getting low in the sky with pronounced rays forming super patterns.

The descent back to the valley was a leisurely stroll, then a walk along snowy forest tracks marked by the traces of Nordic ski - an early first run for folk grabbing the brief early winter conditions.  I arrived back at the car as the the light was fading to a clear and starry evening.  The last hill before a period away at work is always a bittersweet experience, but it had been a cracking day out.


  1. Beautiful photos. Good wishes for a safe journey.

    1. Thanks Dan, I did this walk at the start of the winter - I'll be back home and posting more regularly soon!

  2. Nice post, Ian. And soon the cycle will begin again...happily the hills patiently wait, and the sea beckons with hopeful anticipation. Soon. :) Warm wishes.

    1. Hi D & J, not long now! :o)

      Warm wishes to you both

  3. Hi Ian,

    My name is Jamie Maddison and I am the Editor of Love Nature, an online publication run by the international television company of the same name. The reason I am getting in touch is because I am attempting to track down Tom Leppard as we're very keen in seeing if he would be interested in us making a short form film about him and what it's been like readjusting to a non-wild life after so long out in the wilderness. I noticed that you'd mentioned Tom in one of your posts and I was wondering if you'd know the best way for me to get in touch with him?

    Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.
    Thanks so much for your time.

    All the best,

    Jamie Maddison, (
    Editor, Love Nature