Last week I volunteered to help out one of our local Primary schools who were taking their pupils on a walk up Bennachie's Mither Tap - one of the most iconic hills of Aberdeenshire.
The whole school apart from the very youngest class (who were having their own adventure in the lower forest) made the walk - 55 kids aged between six and eleven plus "helpers"made for a bright crocodile heading up towards the summit!
The day was quite windy so although everybody made it up to the hillfort immediately below the summit, we brought up only the older ones to the very top in small groups.
The rural Primary school these children attend has a clear view to Bennachie and they see the hill every day - I think the head teacher and the school staff deserve huge credit for taking them to climb it; in these risk-averse times it would be simple to just not do such a walk. Already accustomed to their "daily mile" at school, the children took the whole thing in their stride and there wasn't a single comlaint or grumble to be heard. It was a genuinely fun day and a real pleasure to be helping out.
I climbed Bennachie again as an evening walk in glorious weather a few days later - this is the view from Oxen Craig across to the Mither Tap. Don't get me wrong, I love solitude in the hills, but somehow Bennachie seemed less complete without the chatter and laughter of 55 small hillwalkers.....