My favourite hills in Aberdeenshire
9 July 2019
I am often asked which hill is my favourite and I quickly respond, Lochnagar. It’s actually hard to choose between them, as most are good in their own way. Lochnagar has everything though, rich in history, wildlife, the plateau, Glas Allt Falls and the loch and the corrie itself are breathtakingly beautiful. You can walk up to the incorrectly named Munro summit of Lochnagar (on OS maps Cac Carn Beag, should probably be Cadha Carn Beag – the little steep of the stony hill) from a few approaches but the usual route up is from the Spittal of Glen Muick. There is also an excellent visitor centre at the Spittal.
Lochnagar – May 2019
The best view on the walk is the corrie itself, which can be seen from the col beside Meikle Pap and is a good enough walk just to go there.
You don’t have to be a Munro bagger to enjoy hills though and some of the smaller hills offer better views and more nature. Another favourite Aberdeenshire hill for me is of course Bennachie. I’m there quite often delivering navigation courses but also just to enjoy the walks. Bennachie has a good mix of woodland, moorland, path and stream junctions, perfect for teaching navigation. The views are great too, from the sea all the way into the Cairngorms National Park.
There is so much history on the hill, like the plane crash that saw the first recorded casualties of WW2, the magnificent iron age fort on Mither Tap, the old settlements below and the different quarries on the hill where stone was taken for the Thames embankment. My favourite way to enjoy the hill is to approach from the informative visitor centre. Walk along the Gordon Way then cut up to Oxen Craig, over Mither Tap then down the south path to Heather Brig, much easier on the knees. There are plenty of walks for all abilities, including diverse nature trails for the young and old. Have a look at the Bennachie Visitor Centre or Bailies of Bennachie website for more information.
Mither Tap Shadow
Other favourites are Sgòr Mòr, a Corbett just up from Linn o’ Dee, which offers great views down the Lairig Ghru but anywhere in the Cairngorms is fantastic.
Views from Sgòr Mòr
Other great smaller hills are Scolty Hill in Banchory, Carnferg in Aboyne, Craigendarroch above Ballater and the beautiful Creag Choinnich in Braemar which has a fantastic nature trail too.
Views from Creag Choinnich looking down at Braemar and the River Dee.
Before you go up any hill you should let someone know where you are going, have the right equipment and have the skills to navigate your way around the hill. You should also know the code before you go too. You can always take an expert guide and let them take care of everything! As I tell my clients, hill walking is just walking, so take your time and enjoy it!