Unusually, this is a circular walk to the Tap o’ Noth, a distinctive hill in remote hill-farming country. The route to the ancient stone fort at the summit provides wonderful open views as the track gently ascends. The final approach to the summit is on a steep moorland path.
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Duration: 2.75 hours.
Transport/Parking: There are Stagecoach bus services to Rhynie from Insch and Huntly, where there are train stations. Check timetables. The walk from Rhynie to the Tap o’ Noth car-park is 2.5 km. Park in the Tap o’ Noth car-park, signposted up a lane from the A941 Rhynie-Dufftown road, 2.5 km from Rhynie.
Length: 6.320 km / 3.95 mi
Height Gain: 339 meter
Height Loss: 339 meter
Max Height: 554 meter
Min Height: 271 meter
Surface: Moderate. Rough roads and grassy and moorland paths/tracks.
Child Friendly: Yes, but only if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but must be on lead around any cattle or sheep encountered. There is a high stile to negotiate near the start of the walk.
Refreshments: There are cafes, pubs and restaurants in Huntly, just over 14 km from Rhynie.
This is a fine walk in the remote countryside near the village of Rhynie where hill-farming and forestry meet moorland. Most route-guides to the Tap o’ Noth describe a linear “there and back” walk on the north-western aspect. Ours is a circular route offering an extended walk-in, eventually climbing from the east, with superb views over the Rhynie area. The focal point, of course, is the summit of Tap o’ Noth, one of the “stand-out” hills in rural Aberdeenshire. Its distinctive shape is seen in the distance from all sorts of vantage points. There is a vitrified stone fort on the summit, dating back to the Bronze or Iron Age. At 563 m it is the second highest hill-fort in Scotland and the former fort covers an area of 100 metres by 30 metres with partly vitrified stone ramparts and extensive rubble approaches that cascade down the sides of the hill. In the early section of the route, great views open up towards the Bennachie and Menaway Hills, the Hill of Fare, Mount Keen, Morven, Buck of Cabrach, then Lochnagar and Ben A’an as you gain height. Closer to hand across the valley is Wheedlemont Hill (with another ancient fort near its summit, Cnoc Cailliche). From the top, views of Ben Rinnes and the Knock Hill are prominent. As a bonus, on our ascent in mid-August, the path for our final ascent path was strewn with succulent ground-hugging blaeberries and cowberries. Fancifully, local legend has it that a giant called Jock o’ Noth once inhabited the slopes. Jock frequently engaged in battle with another giant, Jock o’ Bennachie, by throwing large boulders at each other from their respective hills. There is said to be a stone on Tap o’ Noth that bears the mark of the five fingers of Jock o’ Bennachie, which he threw from the Oxen Craig. Something to look out for!