Bennachie is a large hill that can be seen from many places in Aberdeenshire. Its craggy peaks seem to loom out of nowhere as you drive round twisty corners of country roads. I once climbed it three times in one day for charity. This, and the climb detailed below, were both done some time ago, obviously.
The top of Harthill Castle, which was owned and restored by the late American writer Ann Savage, is just visible over the trees in the photo above.
Bennachie in my writing
Bennachie, and the stone circle at Daviot, both feature in my book, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and love.
“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society
The start of any Bennachie climb – we took the easiest ‘Rowan Tree’ route – starts with a misleading forest stroll.
Then you’re out into the baking sun (sometimes; you are equally as likely to emerge to a dense Stephen King-esque mist) and views expand.
Parts of the path are pure exposed rock. It feels like standing on the bare face of the planet. I like to kneel and kiss the stone. You do see some strange people on Bennachie…
The ascent gradually gets steeper, the sun gets hotter, and the Mither Tap nears.
Big cairn, little cairn:
There’s a Pictish hillfort near the top. You pass between its ancient walls…
And then you cling, terrified, to the side of the uppermost rocks as the strong wind threatens to knock you over. That bit passes quickly. The landscape soon owns your attention.
A Pictish Beast
The Maiden Stone stands near the foot of the hill, a ninth century Pictish stone displaying a good example of the mysterious, much debated, ‘Pictish beast’. Swimming elephant? Dolphin? Kelpie?
A Stone Circle
A few miles further on is Loanhead of Daviot Stone Circle, the first recumbent circle I ever visited.
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More Historical Fiction from me
Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, a stone circle, and a love story.
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.
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27 Replies to “The Peaks and Picts of Bennachie”
What a beautiful day to be up there! I remember the triple climb day fondly 🙂
I remember that final descent with less fondness! And the pain the next day… 🙂
What a beautiful little corner of the world. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photographs.
Glad you liked them Norah, that is a very nice area with the hills 🙂
Thanks for the follow on Twitter. This is such a beautiful post, it is so so beautiful, I am so lucky to have found this treasure trove of yours in this little space on web.
I would definitely go through all your posts, they seem so promising with so much beauty in words and pictures both..
@rekhanair – my twitter handle
Thank you for visiting and commenting Rekha, I’m glad you like what you see 🙂
What a wonderful place to visit!
It is, I highly recommend it 🙂
Unbelievably beautiful. I hope to see it, one day. Lovely photos.
I hope you get the chance!
I think we have been up Bennachie – when we visited friends in Kemnay.
It is near there.
Living on the Back ‘O Bennachie was the best memory of my life. Thank you, Ailish! ❤️
I imagine it would be an amazing place to live.
Oh wow. What a view that is and the walk leading to that is beautiful.
The views are fantastic.
So many mystical place to explore there. I can see how they’d be inspirational for writing. Lovely.
We stayed in a cottage near there last year. Unfortunately, the day we climbed Mither Tap the mist came down and the views were less than extensive!
Mist can come down so suddenly there.
What a great area to explore! Must put it on my map for when we make it back to Scotland. I am fascinated by the stone circles and Scotland has so many that no one seems to even notice them much. Bernie
They tend to be tucked away in hidden wee corners.