Locations of Interest
Afforsk Cross Stone (NJ 695 208)
About 40 metres into the forest from the most northerly field of Mains of Afforsk there is an eminence topped with a Bronze Age cairn. At the edge of the cairn there is a stone which attracted the attention of Mike Davidson, a former Clerk to the Bailies of Bennachie. It was covered with moss which he removed and was astonished to find a Pictish incised cross. Archaeologists discovered on its edge a line of Ogham symbols, a primitive form of writing.
Averon Knap or Moss Grieve (NJ 666 226, 475m)
This is scarcely a top but rather an elevated mound some 0.5 km east of Oxen Craig. It is close to an area of deep peat and in the days of the peat cutters it would have been regarded as a sort of grieve (“gaffer”) looking down on them. The other name refers to the fact that averons (cloudberries) are present because of the deep peat and altitude. These are plants with strawberry-type leaves and flowers and fruits like large raspberries which are orange when ripe. They should not be eaten raw but do make a lovely jelly.
Bede House (NJ69342358)
Remains of building partly hidden under plantation trees known locally as the Bede House.
A “Bede house” was a hostelry/hospital of medieval origin for displaced men built and served by a religious house or landowner. The Bennachie Bede House lies 500mts to the southwest of Pittodrie House (now a hotel) alongside a turnpike road at a junction with an older road that used to skirt Bennachie to the East and South.
Ref; McConnachie A I 1890. Bennachie p27 Wikipedia Bede House. Old Aberdeen Canmore canmore.org.uk//event/668587
The Bennachie Centre was opened by Honorary Bailie HRH Prince Charles on 27 April 1995. It interprets both the interesting natural and social history of the hill. The Centre’s emblem is a cuckoo.
Black Hill (NJ 635 219, 433m)
This is the most westerly point of the Bennachie range. On its summit is an O.S. Trig Point, one of two on the hill, the other being on the Mither Tap. Both, now redundant are being maintained by the Bailies of Bennachie. From the top a ridge descends SSW for over 1Km to a smaller unnamed top (363m) conspicuous from below because of a small plantation of larch trees. This part of the hill is owned by Castle Forbes Estate. The late Lottie Marr of the Mill of Tilliefoure was in no doubt that they had been planted on the birth of the present Lord Forbes so that when his 21st birthday was being celebrated there would be an abundant supply of wood for a massive bonfire visible from miles around. However when Lord Forbes was 21 he was away serving King and Country in the Second World War so the trees remain. At the time of writing, his Lordship, long time Guardian of Bennachie and in his nineties, has no knowledge of Mrs Marr’s theory!
Bruntwood Tap (411m)
This is just over 1Km south east of Oxen Craig. It is difficult to access as the heather is very long and there are many hidden holes and boulders. It was on its south side that the Westland Wallace biplane crashed in 1939.
Craigshannoch (GR NJ 672 232, 418m) & Harthill’s Cave (GR NJ 672 233)
Craigshannoch means “hill of the foxes”. This is an interesting top with a rocky summit and a line of cliffs descending to the north in what is almost an arête Here there is some fine rock scenery. About half way down the rocky “arête” is Harthill’s Cave. It was here that the notorious Leith, laird of Harthill, hid as he watched his Castle burn having set fire to it to spite his creditors. The entrance is low but inside a number of people could be accommodated in deteriorating weather conditions. A steep, vestigial path descends to Nursery Cottage, but is only recommended for the sure footed.
Esson’s Croft (GR 693 220) also known as Boghead of Tullos
This is the area of small fields surrounding a ruined cottage, barn and byre about 0.5Km (600 yards) north west of the Bennachie Centre. This was the home of George Esson, the last of the Bennachie Colonists, who lived there for many years. He was a mason and drystone dyker, cultivated the croft and died there in 1939. It is privately owned and no longer used for crop production or animal grazing. There is an access route through it linking the Colony Trail with the Mither Tap Timeline Trail.
Fog House (NJ69372342)
Fog House; small garden summer house lined (or possibly roofed) with turf :CSD
Standing on the banks of the Rushmill Burn below the Linn (waterfall) in a semi ruinous state, due partly, according to the Banffshire Journal dated Aug 1864, under the heading of Bennachie and Excursionists “they broke the windows, and took the door off the hinges, and, throwing the furniture into the burn below, left it in a ruin!”.
According to McConnachie “Bennachie” 1890, the Fog House was built “a good few years ago”