Although this is a short hill-walk to a relatively low wooded summit, the ascent provides good exercise and fine views. As it is one of the least known tops on the Bennachie range, you are unlikely to meet fellow walkers. The Cothiemuir Stone Circle makes for a memorable visit during the final section.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: The Insch-Alford Stagecoach 422 bus stops in Keig. Check timetables. Small parking area at walk start-point, or on-street parking in Keig.
Length: 7.58 km / 4.71 mi
Height Gain: 246 meter. Height Loss: 246 meter.
Max Height: 371 meter. Min Height: 130 meter.
Surface: Moderate. Mostly on rough moorland paths and rough estate roads. Approximately 1 km walking on Lord’s Throat quiet minor road. Believed not suitable for off-road mobility scooters due to the steep, stony and narrow paths both ascending and descending Turf Hill, and (currently, at May 2022) large fallen trees near the Stone Circle.
Difficulty: Medium/Hard (steep ascent section to Turf Hill summit).
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, keep dogs on lead in the Castle Forbes estate, on public roads, and near to any farm animals.
Refreshments: Options in Alford.
This is a great wee hill walk with an impressive finale at the ancient Cothiemuir Stone Circle. Much of the route is on a heather and bracken hillside with great views in all directions. There is an energetic ascent, passing abandoned grouse butts, gaining the highest point in a relatively short distance. In the early section of the route there is a good view of Castle Forbes, a 19th C mansion house in Scottish Baronial style. Turf Hill is one of the lower tops on the Bennachie range. It overlooks Keig on the south-western edge of the range, which provides it with a marvellous viewpoint over the Howe of Alford, the nearby Menaway Hills and up to the principal Bennachie tors visible from the southern side: Mither Tap, Oxen Craig, and Watch Craig. In the distance, Morven and Mount Keen are prominent. In the early part of the ascent up Turf Hill there are good views of the Hill of Airlie to the immediate west. Here, a patchwork of fields lead up to a wooded hilltop. Hidden in the trees are the remains of an Iron Age hill-fort, with double defensive rings, known as the Barmkyn of North Keig. The hill has very uniform slopes on all sides, allowing our ancestors who lived there, or who sought refuge there, to readily see any potentially hostile approaches. The Cothiemuir Hill Stone Circle, now also in a wooded glade, is known as the Devil’s Hoofmarks due to natural indentations in the recumbent stone. Although upright stones are missing around the circle, the recumbent stone and flankers are particularly impressive. The recumbent is thought to weigh over 20 tons and the flankers are around 9 ft tall. Typically, the aspect over the recumbent is towards the south-west, and the circle is believed to have been built more than 4,000 years ago on the site of an earlier burial cairn with a central chamber (the covering stone still lies in the centre of the circle).
Photos from walk
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