Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Tweed Valley Osprey Project Co-ordinator, Di Bennett, brings us the latest update from the nest.
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 Visitor 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.
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.
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 Visitor 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 Visitor 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 Visitor Centre. We’re planting wildlife-friendly trees here and putting up information panels to help you identify the birds and animals you spot.
The car park is open at any time, all through the year. Secure bike parking is available.
The Visitor Centre is closed from 1 November and will re-open in spring 2022. The toilets will still be accessible during daylight hours over the winter months.
The charges to park at Bennachie Visitor Centre are:
Payment options: Coin and card
We recommend you bring both coin and card with you in case our machines are having an off-day. Payment for parking can also be taken within the Visitor Centre during opening hours. Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates. Nearby car parks with free parking can be found in our local forest list without the £ symbol.
Annual parking pass available:
Blue badge holders park free. Please display your Blue Badge clearly.
From the first roundabout on the A96 at Inverurie, continue 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. Take the first left in Chapel of Garioch signposted to the Bennachie Centre. Follow this road for about 2 miles (3.2 km) continuing until the next brown Bennachie Centre sign where you will reach the car park at grid reference NJ 698 216.
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.
The most popular route to Mither Tap - with good reason
Classic Deeside scenery of pine, heather and blaeberry