Hill: Bennachie (Mither Tap)
Date: Friday 23rd June 2017
Company: Myself and Becky

On checking out the MetOffice weather forecast at Friday teatime, I noticed there was potential to catch a hill sunset from near Aberlour or from near Inverurie. Thus we had the option of an ascent of either Ben Rinnes or Bennachie. Following some discussion we agreed on an ascent of Ben Rinnes. After quickly packing a rucksack we set off towards Dufftown, however, on arriving in Dufftown I was not happy with the amount of surrounding cloud. The skies were much clearer to the east. As the whole point of heading out was to watch the sun set, we turned around and took the road from Dufftown to Rhynie, via Cabrach, and then made our way to Inverurie, via Insch, for an ascent of Bennachie instead.

Having ascended Bennachie countless times previously, mostly from the Back o' Bennachie car park, I decided for a change to drive to the Rowantree car park and commence our ascent from there. This was my first ever ascent of Bennachie from this car park. On arriving at the Rowantree car park, I was surprised to find that there were no parking charges unlike at the Back o' Bennachie car park.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

As we still had ample time before sunset, we set off at a snail's pace and chatted about the flora and fauna.

Rowantree car park signs:

I appointed Becky "leader" of the walk, so Becky took the lead and set the pace.

Becky taking the Maiden Causeway track:

Looking back during ascent:

The ascent from the Rowantree car park was very enjoyable. Initially we made our way up through some woodland and then out onto open heather slopes.

Waiting for dad:

Heading for Mither Tap:

We passed lots of Common Orchid during the ascent and also took a few metres diversion to see a spring.

Common Orchid:

Mither Tap:

Mither Tap is by far the most impressive, and most frequented, top of Bennachie despite it being 10m lower than the summit, Oxencraig.

Mither Tap (zoom):

We took our time during the ascent such that we didn't have to sit around too long at the summit and thus start getting cold. On reaching the remains of the old Pictish fort, we had a good look around the fort walls before making our way up to the summit.

Heading up between the fort walls:

Charcoal previously found at the fort has been radiocarbon dated to AD360. There may however have been an even earlier Iron Age settlement at this site prior to the Pictish settlement.

Remains of Pictish fort:

Becky at the summit of Mither Tap:

After spending around five minutes at the summit, we dropped back down to the fort walls to get out of the wind and to put on some extra layers. As sunset approached, we both took a number of photos from just above the fort walls and then made our way back up to the summit again to take more pics.

Awaiting sunset:

We both enjoyed the sunset which was made more interesting by a layer of low cloud resulting in plentiful crepuscular rays. Bennachie was the right place to be as it looked cloudy to the west around Ben Rinnes.

Crepuscular rays:

Approaching sunset:

Crepuscular rays:

Approaching sunset:

Sheltering from the wind:

After witnessing the last of the sun, we began our descent out to the car.

Final glimpse of the sun:

As with many good sunsets, the sky colour is often at its best ten to fifteen minutes post sunset. During our walk out, we were treated to pink skies above.

Pink skies in descent:

Pink skies in descent:

We got back to the Rowantree car park around 23:20 and spent a further fifteen minutes there watching numerous bats flying around us. Despite carrying two headtorches, we didn't need to use them.

A great evening out .