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The best place to start for Bennachie first-timers
The distinctive shape of the hill called Bennachie is a landmark that’s meant ‘home’ for thousands of years. People have lived in a fort carved into the hill top, and in radical farming settlements on its slopes. They’ve quarried its stone to build houses, and spun yarns about devils and giants who built its tracks or threw its giant boulders in fits of anger.
Bennachie Centre is the perfect place to start exploring this much-loved hill and the forests that surround it. Trails vary from a gentle route though the woodland to demanding treks in open country, and in the visitor centre you can find out all about Bennachie’s history and wildlife.
A gentle wander through the forest. Wildlife rubbing posts are dotted along the trail; collect paper and crayons from the visitor centre.
A smooth firm trail, with short gentle slopes and no obstacles.
Check the Bennachie Discovery Trail Phototrail for full details about access along the route.
An easy-going trail winding through attractive open woodland and the ruined houses and fields of the Bennachie colonists.
Firm and generally smooth, with some uneven areas. Generally moderate slopes, with some short fairly steep parts. Includes steps, roots and rocky areas.
Find out more about the colonists who lived and worked on Bennachie in the 1800s along this route.
Mither Tap Timeline Trail
Climb to the rocky granite top of the Mither Tap, with its superb views and impressive Pictish fort.
A very steep, rough trail with roots, rough rock steps and drains. Narrow in places. The summit is slab rock and can be slippery when wet.
The trail will take you back in time, through forest planted in the 1950s and into a landscape formed over 10,000 years since the last Ice Age.
Get to the top
Many visitors want to climb the Mither Tap, the most distinctive of Bennachie’s nine summits. The shortest route is the steep Timeline Trail from Bennachie Centre, but there are plenty of other ways to the top. From Rowantree car park a popular route follows an ancient trackway, and from Back O’Bennachie there’s a longer trail that’ll take you through an old quarry. From Donview you can climb Millstone Hill, a remote, less well-known summit, and continue to the Mither Tap for a really big day out.
For more adventure, try the Gordon Way, an 11 ½ mile (18.5 km) route through forests, farmland and moorland that starts (or ends) at Bennachie Centre. All of these trails cross open country and hill ground, where the weather can change quickly. Check our advice on hillwalking before you set off.
Bennachie is home to a great diversity of wildlife, including the charismatic red squirrel, and many different species of birds.
Come and watch these fascinating forest animals from our new wildlife viewing area near the Bennachie Centre. We’re planting wildlife-friendly trees here and putting up information panels to help you identify the birds and animals you spot.
Facilities & access
The car park is open at any time, all through the year. Secure bike parking is available.
The visitor centre is open daily April-October 10am-5pm, and is run by the Bennachie Centre Trust
For more details, contact the centre on 01467 681470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get simple refreshments at the Visitor Centre. Toilets are available in the centre when it's open, and during daylight hours in the winter. Otherwise, the nearest public toilets are in Inverurie.
Car parking charges
Please note, parking charges are as follows:
- £1 for up to 1 hour
- £2 for up to 3 hours
- £3 for all day
- £12 for minibus and coach all day
Season passes are also available. For more information please contact us.
From Inverurie, take the A96 north towards Huntly. After about 3.5 miles (5.5 km) on the A96, take a road on the left signposted to Chapel of Garioch. At the t-junction in Chapel of Garioch turn right, then first left, signposted to the Bennachie Centre. Follow this road for about 2 miles (3.2 km) to reach the car park at grid reference NJ 698 216.
Nearest postcode: AB51 5HY
The nearest point for public transport is the village of Pitcaple, about 3 miles (4.8 km) away on the A96. It is served by buses between Huntly and Aberdeen. Alternatively, you could take a taxi from Inverurie, about 6.5 miles (10km) away, which is served by buses and trains. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
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