(025) Bennachie-Heather Brig-Mither Tap-Turnpike Road (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
This is a great hill and forest walk at the tougher end of our range, at just over 9 km and with almost 400 m overall ascent. Despite its modest height, the Mither Tap rewards the walker with stunning panoramic views. The history of the place is also fascinating and diverse.

Duration: 4 hours.

 

Route Overview
Duration: 4 hours.
Transport/Parking: No bus service to the Bennachie Visitor Centre. The Bennachie Visitor Centre is about 2 miles south of the Chapel of Garioch, off the road for Blairdaff. There is a Forestry Commission car-park. Charges apply.
Distance: 9.050 km / 5.66 mi
Height Gain: 373meter
Height Loss: 373 meter
Max Height: 489 meter
Min Height: 148 meter
Surface: Rough in places. Mostly good paths. The path that ascends to the Mither Tap is in good condition but there are numerous high stone steps.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Difficulty: Hard
Dog Friendly: Yes. Ensure on lead in car-park area.
Refreshments: Small cafe and shop in the Bennachie Visitor Centre.

Description
This circular walk takes an unconventional approach to Bennachie’s Mither Tap, walking around the hillside to ascend from the steeply sloped southern side and then makes a return by a more gentle route down the Maiden Causeway path, and along the Old Turnpike Road. On the way, mature coniferous forest gives way to majestic moorland expanses, then to mixed woodland. At the Mither Tap summit, and on both the ascent and descent, the views are breath-taking. Though not particularly high, the Bennachie range is very prominent, owing to the relative flatness of the surrounding terrain, and dominates the skyline from many viewpoints around Aberdeenshire. Although not quite the highest peak, the Mither Tap stands out due to the profile of the hill, which is shaped like a female breast. This may be reflected in the name “Mither Tap” (Mother Top) and “Bennachie” (Beinn na Ciche: ‘hill of the breast’)? The hill may have had a religious significance in prehistoric times, perhaps related to fertility, and is also the subject of much local legend, poetry and song. On this walk, the descent from the summit goes through an entrance corridor in what was clearly a massive but now ruined wall, taken to be the remains of an Iron Age and/or Pictish Hill Fort (perhaps 500 BC – 500 AD). From the early to mid 19th C common land on the east side of Bennachie was home to a small community of crofters known as the Colony who also provided skilled labour in agricultural trades such as dyking and ditching. Local landowners obtained legal backing for the appropriation of this “free land”, and after 1859 the Colony disintegrated, broken up by landlord intimidation, eviction, and resultant poverty. There is a lot to learn about Bennachie, and this link to an A-Z index of information is an invaluable aid to the curious rambler:
http://www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk/discover-bennachie/

Links:
Photos from walk
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Wikiloc  

 

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