The web site, Caledonia Hilltreks details my ascents of the Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and New Donalds all of which are above 2000 feet. This blog will contain an account of my ascents of the hills below this height as and when they are climbed.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Bennachie - Oxen Craig, Aberdeenshire.

Mither Tap, Bennachie

Bennachie – Oxen Craig, Aberdeenshire - Section 21B.
Height – 528 metres. OS Landranger 38.
Climbed - 4 April 2010. Time taken – 4.25 hours.
Distance – 10.5 kilometres. Height climbed – 575 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The plan had been to head west for the weekend but with road closures due to snow this idea was abandoned for a walk nearer home. I also decided to avoid the higher hills as it would be hard going underfoot in the wet snow. The decision was made to head to this local hill, a drive of around forty minutes.

There are a few access points available to climb the several tops of Bennachie but I chose the Rowantree Car Park which was reached from the hamlet of Chapel of Gairich, north-west of Inverurie. There were already several cars parked there so at least a trail had been created through the snow. I set off up the track, signposted to Mither Tap and marked ‘Rowantree Footpath’, which led through the forest, initially on a wet surface from the melting snow. However I soon reached patches of snow covering the path which was still easy to follow.

Higher up, I had my first view of the Mither Tap, as it was cloud covered on my drive from Aberdeen. The trees were sparser now and there was some deep snow on the path along the Maiden Causeway. In fact the snow was around three feet deep in places and some walkers had gone into these holes, as I did a couple of times.

At the top of the Maiden Causeway a runner and his dog passed me heading downhill. A stepped area led to the rocky summit with trig point and viewpoint indicator. At this time the indicator wasn’t much use to me as the cloud had lowered again and it was now snowing. The Mither Tap is an old fort, undated, and part of the wall was still evident. There were also inscriptions on the rock dated 1850.

As well as snowing there was a cold wind so it was time to move on as Mither Tap isn’t the highest point on Bennachie, it is Oxen Craig some two kilometres further west. I left Mither Tap, and in the low cloud followed snow covered paths as I descended to the col with Oxen Craig. Only a few folks had been this way and on a couple of occasions I had to break trail as the paths were not easily followed, although a few signposts appeared out of the low cloud. From the col the route was more obvious and several people were going in the opposite direction. Just below Oxen Craig there was a large party sheltering behind rocks partaking of lunch.

The summit of Oxen Criag was marked by a large cairn and nearby was another viewpoint indicator. However there were no views due to the cloud so I also sought shelter for lunch. Fortunately, during lunch, the cloud began to lift and I could now see Millstone Hill, Cairn William and across towards Lochnagar. After lunch I returned to the viewpoint indicator and had views of Ben Rinnes, The Knock and towards the Cairngorms.

I returned to the Mither Tap, the snow on the paths having been well trodden now, and climbed to its summit, this time with views. Afterwards I descended by the Maiden Causeway and the runner and his dog passed me going back uphill. A short time later he passed me again on his descent and advised me that he had ascended Mither Tap three times from the Bennachie Centre and was doing the same from the Rowantree Car Park.

On the descent there were several folks, including family groups, heading uphill and near the car park, the runner passed me returning back uphill, this time with the expression he was ‘cream crackered’. He looked it.

Photos taken on walk.