(049) Insch-Hills of Christ’s Kirk and Flinder Circuit (Aberdeenshire)

Route Summary
Walking through farmland, broadleaf and conifer woods, with a moderately taxing overall ascent of 300 m, to reach two fine open summits with tremendous 360° views of the surrounding rural scene, taking in a patchwork of farm fields, areas of forest, and low hills on all sides.

Duration: 3 hours.

 

Route Overview
Duration: 3 hours.
Transport/Parking: There are Scotrail train and Stagecoach bus options. Check timetables. The Insch Railway Station car-park is for rail customers only. There are on-street parking options nearby.
Length: 8.650 km / 5.41 mi
Height Gain: 291 meter
Height Loss: 291 meter
Max Height: 302 meter
Min Height: 129 meter
Surface: Moderate. Mostly on good, grassy paths.
Child Friendly: Yes, but only if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Difficulty: Medium.
Dog Friendly: Yes, but must be on lead on public roads and around any cattle or sheep encountered.
Refreshments: Options in Insch.

Description
This is a good there and back walk from Insch railway station, with the mid-sections forming an attractively varied figure of eight loop. The route leaves the expanding commuter village of Insch to enter the Beatrice Community Woodland, where a variety of broadleaf tree varieties are signposted along the way. It then enters a dense conifer plantation, but with open and wide grassy tracks, to commence the ascent of a duo of joined-up hills. Hill of Christ’s Kirk (311 m) and Hill of Flinder (293 m) are fairly low hills in the scheme of things, but with tremendous panoramic views as you climb towards their summits, and, of course, from the tops themselves. Across the valley to the north lies the immediately recognisable Hill of Dunnydeer (268 m), with the impressive ruin of its ancient hill fort catching the eye, as ever. See our Dunnydear walk: https://goo.gl/MVQS1F To the east, the Bennachie massif is prominent. To the west, the pyramid shape of Tap o’Noth dominates the skyline. All around is a patchwork of rolling hills, farmland and forest. The evocatively named Hill of Christ’s Kirk refers to a ruined 12th C church of that name (also known as “St Muriel’s” – the angel of peace and harmony), obscured in a copse of trees, by a farm of the same name, to the south of the hill. On the way up, the route passes fairly close to the farm known as “Sleepytoun”, immortalised in a bothy ballad of the same name which describes the vicissitudes of working life for a “feed” farm labourer in the 19th C. Some versions have many more verses that describe the social and employment conditions of the day, but this fine rendition by Dick Gaughan is fairly short: https://goo.gl/bH9LwU There is archaeological evidence that a fort, surrounded by three earth ramparts, occupied the summit area of Hill of Christ’s Kirk, although this is not obvious to the naked eye nowadays.

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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