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Some Sunny Aberdeenshire Marilyns

Some Sunny Aberdeenshire Marilyns

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:06 am

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Benaquhallie, Bennachie (Oxen Craig), Brimmond Hill, Cairn William, Coiliochbhar Hill, Craiglich, Lord Arthur's Hill, Millstone Hill, Tap o'Noth

Date walked: 19/11/2017

Time taken: 12.75 hours

Distance: 52.3 km

Ascent: 2743m

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I had a very busy week so had little time to plan the weekend's escapades...where to go - where's the weather acceptable; where can I find a suitable, open campsite at this time of year etc etc. Well I had a request to do a work visit in Aberdeen, so that narrowed the field nicely - we'd go up to Aberdeenshire and do some Marilyns - co-inciding with the best weather in the country :D Managed to find a campsite - Hillhead in Kintore which was nicely situated for a cluster of smaller hills that we could pick our way through, and which didn't worry about late arrivals - getting out of Glasgow in the late afternoon is always a tiresome process. Anyhow, we made it up to Kintore before 9pm, found a place to pitch (there were no other tents :wink: ) and huddled down for a cold clear night.

ImageDSC00001 by Al, on Flickr

My plan had been to do Bennachie and adjacent hills the first day, then 4 more dispersed hills around Alford on Saturday, finishing off on Brimmond Hill in Aberdeen itself on Sunday, leavign me time to do my second opinion work. And so it was. We set off to Bennachie, with the shapely cone of Mither Tap visible for miles around (indeed, visible from every hill we climbed over the weekend as a kind of neolithic reference point). Decided to go up from the south - Donview, as we wanted to climb Cairn William later on. I'd been up Bennachie many years ago with my toddler son strapped to my back in one of those carrytot things - no idea if I did Oxen Craig (the true summit) or just Mither Tap.

bennachiex.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We discovered a lot of forestry work had been going on over the southern slopes of Millstone Hill, with a diversion of the path in place. Followed this for a bit, then decided it was heading too far east and cut back onto the felled forestry path - no machinery in evidence, just log stacks, so no real reason to heed the diversion. Onto the good path up Millstone, the cold morning air bracing, the sunshine very welcome. Arrived at the summit of Millstone which has fine views over to Bennachie and a vou start up the path to Bennachie very minor drop (only 153m) before you start up to Bennachie again. Mither Tap is impressively stony - granite and felspar blocks tumbling amidst the remnants of a hill-fort dating from around 400 CE. We met a group of folk, including small children who had come up from the eastern approach, walked around the hill-fort rubble then set off towards Oxen Craig. Easy walking over tracks in the short heather, dog-walkers and runners around. Stopped for lunch under the cairn on Oxen Craig, enjoying the views before following the Gordon Way back to Donview carpark.

What used to be a forest track...
ImageDSC00002 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00003 by Al, on Flickr

Mither Tap from Millstone
ImageDSC00006 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00009 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00010 by Al, on Flickr

Oxen Craig
ImageDSC00011 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Oxen Craig
ImageDSC00013 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00015 by Al, on Flickr

Drove the short distance to Pitfichie, crossing the Don and parked at the entrance to an old quarry - several cars with bike racks in evidence. Not much to say about this one - a short walk through forest track then a turn off to the left up the hillside on an MBT track. Then things get ridiculous - there's a sinuous track which winds up Cairn William, but with such outrageously wide loops that you could walk about 3km to gain 500m...even Allison - who hates heather tussocks with a passion - eventually got so fed up with it that she left the path and completed the route to the summit over the heather. Good views back to Bennachie. We took a more direct route back down :lol:
Had hoped to squeeze in another hill somewhere nearby but it was 15.10 by this time with sunset half an hour away, so decided we'd just drive back to the campsite and have a shower and an early tea.

cairnwillx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Cairn William
ImageDSC00016 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00017 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00019 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00020 by Al, on Flickr

Rain overnight but another beautiful sunshiny morning greeted us. Up and away before 9 - out to Lord Arthur's Hill. I'd noticed a track passing up from Littlewood Park up by some gross butts and thought this should be OK - we parked in a layby just east of the lodge, though we could have squeezed in at the gatehouse - the road to the lodge currently closed for roadworks. Passed by some outbuildings then picked up a track through some long grass which led where we wanted to go. Lovely rusty rustic colours - the dead bracken and russet leaves still clinging to the trees. The track leads right to the summit - grand views of Pressendye and north to Tap o Noth. returned by the outward route.

lordarthur.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Littlewood Park
ImageDSC00022 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00023 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00024 by Al, on Flickr

Lord Arthur's Hill
ImageDSC00025 by Al, on Flickr

Tap O Noth in background
ImageDSC00026 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00029 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00030 by Al, on Flickr

Next up was Coiliochbhar Hill near Kildrummy - again this was a straight up and down (as were all the hills today). We parked beside some houses at Newton (there is a suitable place to park a little further on) and went through a gate onto a stony track. Passed a ruined cottage then we meet a locked gate with barbed wire strung across the top - a bit unneccessary! As a result we went round the edge of the deer fence rather than risk clothing being shredded. Continued on an ATV track to the top of the hill, where we met some runners. Was mighty cold in the wind. Sheltered in a group of wind writhed pines for a bite of lunch then set off back to the car.

coiliochor.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageDSC00031 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00032 by Al, on Flickr

Coiliochbhar Hill
ImageDSC00033 by Al, on Flickr

Rather vicious gate
ImageDSC00034 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00035 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00037 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00038 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00039 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00040 by Al, on Flickr

Our next target was Craiglich Hill, accessed from the B9119 near Slack. This involved driving along various country roads in dazzling sunshine. There's a big layby at the start of the route to park in. A very short walk, less than 5k return. Muddy track to start, then frosty heather track to the summit - which has a trig point, a tree and some fire-beating kit. Once again Mither Tap was off in the distance.

craiglich.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageDSC00041 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00043 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00044 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00047 by Al, on Flickr

Pressing on to get a fourth hill in before darkness fell, we drove a short distance along the 9119 to Benaquhallie. Parking is a bit of an issue for this one - any bits off the main road are at farm gates. I happened to meet a lovely lady from Tullochvenus House who described 2 route options and allowed us to park on her driveway :D From here we set off through the fields of Tullochvenus Farm, finding the most robust barbed wire I've ever encountered - six strands of sharp barbs :shock: At leat it wasn't electrified :lol: There was - helpfully - bits of scrap aluminium sheeting lying about which could be fashioned into useful guards to get over the barbs. After that it was a case of following a muddy farm track right up the hill, through a small copse to the trig pointed summit. To the south is a giant cairn which we had to visit before returning to the car as the light faded.

benaqualli.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageDSC00048 by Al, on Flickr

Hard core barbed wire here!
ImageDSC00049 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00050 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00051 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00054 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00056 by Al, on Flickr

Another wet night, another fine morning - had decided to add in Tap o Noth today - this involved a drive of 25 miles to Rhynie in frosty conditions. Tap O Noth has the second highest hill-fort upon it - second only to Griam Beg which is a Marilyn very high on my to-do list. Anyway we were not the first up this hill - 2 other cars in the carpark before 10am. The track was icy where it wended up the hillside, the sky blue, feathered with white cloud. Frost at the top, views for miles all around. Back down the same way, a hold up on the road whilst the local cows returned from milking to their field with the whole family helping out directing them, then towards Aberdeen.

tap-o-noth.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageDSC00058 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00059 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00060 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00062 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00065 by Al, on Flickr

Brimmond Hill can be reached from the North, West or East - problem for us was the major roadworks on the A96 that have closed off the usual route to this hill - the lady on googlemaps was getting most irate that we weren't following her instructions. Passed the enormous skeleton of the new AICC on the way and managed to get to the start of the northern route eventually. From here there's a tarred road all the way to the transmitter masts at the summit - all of 106m ascent. it does afford excellent views across the city of Aberdeen however - a good introduction for Allison who'd never been to Aberdeen before. Back down, change into some "work" clothes and out to the hospital for my visit. When this was done, headed along to the esplanade for a walk along the beach then to the Bonobo Cafe (Aberdeen's only vegan restuarant) for an all-day brunch before a drive home

Brimmondx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

ImageDSC00066 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00067 by Al, on Flickr

Mither Tap still visible
ImageDSC00069 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00070 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00071 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00074 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00076 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00078 by Al, on Flickr
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Re: Some Sunny Aberdeenshire Marilyns

Postby Scottk » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:05 am

Busy weekend. You must have clocked up some miles!
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Re: Some Sunny Aberdeenshire Marilyns

Postby PeteR » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:35 am

Very interesting Al. I was looking at quite a few of these hills last night, for next weekend, along with a couple of Grahams I'll be revisiting your report during the week :wink:
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Re: Some Sunny Aberdeenshire Marilyns

Postby Beaner001 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:06 am

In one foul swoop you chalk off more local hills that I've done in my local area. Food for thought though as some lovely views. Cheers
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