29 of us set out on a cold but dry day for a walk around the Bennachie range.  After a brief comfort stop at Inverurie we went on to the Back o’ Bennachie car park where we start our walks.  Some of us took the lower level path which skirted the hill along an old turnpike road, passing the Pittodrie House Hotel to finish at the Visitor Centre.  The rest of us went up the hill to first reach the Little Oxen Craig where we could see the old 19th century granite quarry.  The path uphill was windy and still covered in patches of snow from the previous few weeks.  Paths criss-cross the Bennachie plateau, so there were a number of options that the walkers could take.  A few adventurers in our group sought out a waterfall.  Most of us walked over to the granite tor of Oxen Craig, which despite appearances, is the highest peak on Bennachie.  It is slightly higher by about 10 metres than the more recognisable peak of Mither Tap.  From Oxen Craig we walked on to Craigshannoch, another granite tor then on to Mither Tap.  This is the most popular part of Bennachie for walkers with the ascent of this peak, walking through an ancient iron age hill fort to reach the peak.  Thanks to the clear day there were spectacular views over the surrounding countryside – from the snow capped Lochnagar and Cairngorms in one direction to the north east coast towards the Buchan area in the other direction.  From Mither Tap it was a straight descent to the Visitor Centre where we picked up our bus.  We had a pub stop at the delightful Bennachie Lodge Hotel in Kemnay, then on home to Aberdeen.

Alastair

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