The Peaks and Picts of Bennachie

Bennachie in the distance

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

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD with a misty mountain view

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. 

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“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.

woodland walk on Bennachie

Then you’re out into the baking sun (sometimes; you are equally as likely to emerge to a dense Stephen King style mist) and the views expand.

rock face on Bennachie

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…

getting steeper as we climb Bennachie

The ascent gradually gets steeper, the sun gets hotter, and the Mither Tap nears.

Big cairn, little cairn:

cairns on Bennachie


There’s a Pictish hillfort near the top. You pass between its ancient walls…

hillfort on Bennachie

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.

views from Bennachie

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?

The Maiden Stone

A Stone Circle


A few miles further on is Loanhead of Daviot Stone Circle, the first recumbent circle I ever visited.


Newsletter and Updates

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

More Historical Fiction from me

Ailish's books

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.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

A Dancer’s Journey – a contemporary series

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair. Dark and romantic books.

These books are so naughty that I’m a little worried nobody will be able to look me in the face again after reading them. But not that worried. They’re out in the world anyway.

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Series on Amazon

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair - dark and romantic books

Writer’s Tip Jar

27 Replies to “The Peaks and Picts of Bennachie”

  1. Hey Ailish,

    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..

    take care

    take care
    @rekhanair – my twitter handle

  2. 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

Leave a Reply