Gordon Way to Bennachie

Having done a 30k hill run the day before, I was in two minds whether Sunday’s AHW walk should be run or walked, whether the legs could do another long run so soon. But there were places to explore and a limited time to meet the bus, so there’d have to be some running if I was to see everything I wanted.

Today’s route was primarily the Gordon Way, heading east towards and round Bennachie. I started off walking to blether to the other walkers, and see how the legs felt.

Starting off from Suie wood the muddy tracks head through forest
Before reaching a cleared part on top of Suie hill
Heathery hill, chilly chill
There were a few of these metal boxes dotted along the way, unknown purpose
Winding narrow path
Gordon way is well signposted
Rooty single track
Den of Drumgoyne
Up onto Knock Saul, there are myriads of dew-covered webs
Looking back to Suie hill and beyond
Knock Saul has a trig point and a large cairn
There’s also a boundary stone with a J and a W

From this point on I got my run on and bade farewell to the walkers.

Down Satter hill
Lots of very wet grass, should have probably worn a pair of goretex trainers
In amongst the grass, the tiniest of flooers, only a couple mm across. The olympus xz2 can focus really close though
Along a bit of road, then up Corrie hill heading for the main bulk of bennachie

The notice sounds serious, but there’s a few broken boards and fences, nothing of any real hazardous note that I could see

This way

The next section is really overgrown, and today was soaking wet. I could barely make the path out in places but knew to head uphill following the edge of the trees and a fence.

much thrunging through wet grass
Up up
All these beads are now soaked into my shorts
Down Corrie hill then up Black hill
Brief snack break. Poke about the understory nearby
Over a stile, a stool. Local wildlife not keeping it in the woods
tiny glistening orbs of fucsia – some heather still in bloom
There’d been an ultra race the day before, signs still out
The first sign I’m at the top, as Watch Craig comes into view
While the way heads around the side, here’s where I diverge from the walkers route
Heading up to Oxen Craig
That’d make a handy wee shelter on a rough day
Looking back to Watch Craig
Oxen Craig
Indicator looking towards Mither Tap
Indicator close up
Down off Oxen Craig
Arrived at Craigshannock, looking back

Arriving at Craigshannock, I began one of my primary exploratory tasks for the day – previously, I’d been unable to find Harthill’s cave, but this time I had better info: needed to look further down the ridge, and keep an eye out for ‘a christmas tree’)

The rocky ridge heading north
west side of ridge
Nice view down to woods
Aha: There are a few singular christmas trees, one of which lies right outside the cave entrance
Yay found the cave
In we go, bit muddy inside
Reasonable amount of room could squeeze half a dozen seated in here
Harthill’s view. I think his castle is behind the tree
Sat outside for a but of lunch
Autumn colours

With a successful cave find in the bag, time to move on and see some other stuff. It’d be wrong to come up here and not visit Mither tap so first headed over there

Mither tap
Round the side for a scramble up
Top
Down through the fort
Maiden’s causeway ahead

The descent from Mither tap to the Rowantree car park is a fav trail running descent, it has it all, rocky steps, moor, into woods then rooty singletrack. Whammed it down and didn’t stop to take photos as enjoying the flow too much

Blurry run-cam
Phew down at the car park, great descent

Checked the clock, still time to head off on another tangent to check out some lumps o stone. First one is the maiden stone, an impressive 1000 year old pictish stone

Nice carvings on this class II pictish stone
Info board beside it

Just across the road in the woods, is a statue that most folk would miss but is noted on OS 1:25k map. It’s of greek mythological goddess of corn and harvest Persephone, and is of much more recent provenance (Sean Crampton 1961)

The tones of the stone fit in well amongst the woodland hues
Persephone up close
A bench to contemplate has grown a carpet of moss
Amongst the grass nearby, looks like offerings have been made
Time to move on, heading back towards Bennachie along tree lined tracks
Past posh hotel Pittodrie house, through it’s grounds and on to the old turnpike road
Another diversion up the Rushmill burn
To see the fog house ruin
Autumn waterfall
Ruin pano

I’d thought the only way to the ruin was along the burn, but I spot a path above the ruin which runs south mostly parallel to the turnpike road track which it eventually joins. For most folk this path would be a bit easier

Young larch
Pine-needly woodland paths, awesome running
Ferny tricolours
Off path bit of moss-yomping
Heading back to the visitor’s centre

Decided on another diversion, headed up past the Bennachie colony. The tale of how hardworking folk trying to make a life for themselves here were fucked over by greedy estate landowners is pretty sad.

It’s this kind of thing why I have utter contempt for most large estate land owners: if you know your history you never have to look back that far in time to find evidence of cruelty, theft and bloody-minded greed of the landed gentry, for whom no amount of riches is ever enough, and they’ve never given a shit who they tread on to acquire more. It’s still relevant today, as the great great grandchildren of these tyrannies still hold sway, evolving a superiority complex at elite schools, then using their wealth and connections to influence politics and business whose shitty ethics then affects us all. It’s pathetic that even in this modern day, many small countryside communities still adhere to ‘knowing their place’ in feudal serfdom, and hold the laird and their victorian bullshit in high regard. History rant over.

Anyway as we were, onward happy trails 🙂

People scratched a living off the land here before the greedy rich hammered them
I spied a few of these plaques, not sure how many make up the entire collection
“The tramping to Inverurie, the trundling to Insch.” Not today, only a mile to go
Visitor centre marks the end
Display inside the centre

Run of 28k done, I retired to the visitor centre for a cup of tea (free bit of cake left over from yesterday’s ultra too) and to await the walkers. I didn’t have long to wait as their route was a good chunk shorter. We headed on to Inverurie for a swift pint before heading home

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