Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The view from Pressendye

A catch-up post of a walk up Pressendye in early May, a hill in Aberdeenshire overlooking the Howe of Cromar with wide views to the mountains south of the River Dee.

Pressendye can be climbed from several different starting points; I've usually started from Milltown of Towie on the River Don to the north, but today decided to try from the south (there's also a handy route which goes from the village of Tarland).  I started from the B9119 road at the start of the access to the Petts farm, where there's space to park a couple of cars clear of the farm road.

Heading up the road to the farm the views start to open out, Lochnagar is some 30km distant but seemed much closer in a northerly airstream with very clear air.

Above the farm the continuation track climbed through a pleasant wood of Scots Pine, taking a switchback course to reach a forest track.  Following this track west and then north the top of the forest is reached and.....

...the heathery top of Pressendye comes into view.  Although it looks a straightforward route from this point, there are several tracks and paths which converge here - not all of them end up anywhere near Pressendye....

It's a short and easy climb up to the 619m/2030ft summit which has a large and partly tumbled shelter cairn.  Inserted in the rocks of the cairn is a visitor's logbook in a plastic box, on this fine Spring day I wasn't surprised that there had been other folk here earlier in the day.  Pressendye (Gaelic "Preas an Daigh" - copse of the fire) is a "Graham" and so is on many folk's lists - but just as a great viewpoint it more than repays the short climb - the whole walk can be done in under three hours.

The siting of a trig point here suggests that there should be a good view and that's certainly true. The nearest large hill is the Corbett of Morvern (big mountain) a few kilometres to the west.  Further west the big Cairngorm hills were being periodically obscured by sweeping snow showers, the effect of sun, shadow and sudden colour was quite kaleidoscopic.

To vary the descent I walked over to Pittenderich, a lower summit which also sports a big cairn, this one even has planks built in to serve as bench seats!

From Pittenderich a short descent on a muddy path emerges at the forest track a little to the east of the point where it decends towards the Petts.  Hading downhill there's a grandstand view over Tarland and the Howe of Cromar to the Dee valley and across to Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro.

If you climb Pressendye by this route it's worth also visiting the nearby Culsh Earth House, a 2000 year old souterrain which is close to the B9119 road - parking is on the roadside and remember to take a headtorch.......

If climbing Pressendye from the northern (Donside) direction, you may pass one of the more bizarre sights in the Scottish hills, the outline of a huge Playboy Bunny symbol mown into the heather of a corrie!


  1. A hill not on my radar as a destination but it looks worthwhile for a future trip. Nice summit views. Never heard of the Bunny symbol until now.

    1. It's a good little short day this one Bob, and there's an equally good viewpoint with an even shorter climb nearby at Craiglich. For the baggers, there's Lochnagar and Morven close at hand too. The Bunny is hilarious - I've a photo of it somewhere - one of the most unusual things I've seen on a hillside!