New Year’s walk up Mither Tap

I woke up this morning determined to climb a hill. I pitched the idea to the kids first.

Me: Would you like to climb a hill today?
Elizabeth: Ok, sure.
Daniel: Will there be a cafe?
Me: No.
Daniel: Then I don’t want to go.
Me: We could take a picnic?
Daniel: No, thanks.
Me: What if we buy the sandwiches from Marks & Spencer?
Daniel: Ok.

I guess this means I score 1/10 for sandwich-making ability.

Ben didn’t need any convincing so off we went to Mither Tap in the Bennachie hill range (stopping first at M&S for supplies). I thought we were nuts heading out in near frozen temperatures to climb a hill but it was a marvellous day and we were not the only ones there. Indeed every man, woman, dog, and child in Aberdeenshire was also out climbing Mither Tap on New Year’s Day 2018.

Mither Tap translates to “mother top” because it looks like a boob. Can’t this be said of most hills? Bennachie, the hill range that includes Mither Tap, means “hill of the breast”. We didn’t quite make it to the top because the very last bit was too icy and treacherous. It’s about a 6km walk from the visitor centre at the bottom. The walk starts off very easy through forest getting slowly steeper until you leave the tree line and start climbing up natural stair-like stones. The very last part of it was more a scramble through heather than a walk up stairs because the main path was completely covered in ice and unsafe to use. Going down again was quite hard until we reached the trees. Fortunately heather makes a wonderfully soft carpet, it’s not prickly, and it’s a bit springy to walk on.

It wasn’t cold walking up because we all got hot from the exercise. However once we reached the top (or almost top) we were suddenly exposed to freezing winds and it became unpleasant so we didn’t hang around long other than to take a few shots of the lovely view.

This is the start of the walk through the forest:

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I really enjoyed myself, as you can see.

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Elizabeth thoroughly enjoyed it too except for the bit where a dog came bounding up while we were having our picnic and snatched the other half of her sandwich faster than you can say gulp.

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Here’s the path close to the top.

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We, and everyone else, scrambled up the heather.

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This is as far as we got. That’s the very top of Mither Tap in this next photo. We got as far as the hillfort which is the remains of an old stone fortification thought to be around 2,000 years old. We didn’t have a close look at the fort because it was so cold and windy up there. It would be best explored in summer.

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Then back down again …

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There are lots of walks in Bennachie and some of them flatter and easier then Mither Tap. The visitor centre at the bottom is closed for the winter but not the toilets which were open and very clean. We’ll definitely go back again.