Millstone Hill, Aberdeenshire.
Height – 409 metres. Map – OS Landranger 38.
Climbed - 16 January 2011. Time taken 3.5 hours.
Distance – 11 kilometres. Ascent – 730 metres.
Trip Report Details:
The start for this walk was the Donview Car Park on the Lord’s Throat Road that runs from Monymusk to Keig.
It was sunny, and a bit milder that of late, when I set off from the car park and followed the marked route for the Millstone Hill Trail. This took me into the forest, across an icy section of path, and onto a vehicle track.
I followed this track until another of several signposts directed me onto a path. Here the gradient soon increased and steps had been created to make for easier progress. Higher up there was a gap in the trees where I had views of the River Don and across to another Marilyn, Cairn William.
There was some more snow and ice to contend with as the trees became sparser and the path continued through the heathery hillside. Forty five minutes from leaving the car park the summit cairn of Millstone Hill suddenly came into view.
My initial plan was to return to the car park and drive to the Glens of Foudland and climb one or two Marilyns there but I was enjoying the outing, and the weather conditions, so I decided to continue across to the Mither Tap on Bennachie.
I descended the path on the north-east side of Millstone Hill, making a slight diversion to the summit of the 387 metre knoll. The path, which was still well signposted, led to Bennachie Forest where a sign indicated restrictive access due to forest operations. This was the first indication that the path was closed. From my vantage point there didn’t appear to be any work ongoing so I continued to a vehicle track where there were piles of logs and a parked piece of machinery.
The route along the forest track only lasted around hundred metres before I came to another path signposted Mither Tap. This path crossed the Gordon Way and was soon onto open ground where lower down there was more snow and ice. Once beyond the snow it was a steady climb towards the granite tor of Mither Tap.
It was now quite windy as I followed the path round to the more sheltered north side of the hill and through a gap in the old fort wall. A short easy scramble, made awkward by the strong wind, led to the summit trig point and indicator. It was quite difficult to stay upright here and several folks arrived from the trade mark north and east routes. The Mither Tap is not the highest point on Bennachie, Oxen Craig further to the west is and subsequently the Marilyn.
I descended towards the old fort wall and some shelter for a coffee break looking over the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire, before returning by the outward route.
Photos taken on walk.