Thursday 27 August
Hill of Tillymorgan (SE of Huntly)
My original plan had been to tackle both Hill of Tillymorgan and Hill of Foudland from the layby outside of the graveyard at Kirkton of Culsalmond (hoping that there wasn’t going to be a funeral; given how small and old a graveyard it is, it would have been awfully bad luck to hit such a day), and that is from where we set out for this first hill.
Up past the ruins of the old church and past a sign that suggested that our hilltop was two-miles hence, through a forest we went, soon overheating in the sunshine.
Nearly at the end of the forest, the track took an unexpected turn (the map didn’t show any track going that way), which looked like it would be helpful to us and then an obvious trodden line took us through more trees, then over slag heaps, before finally petering out at a fence.
A missing section of the top strand of barbed wire allowed us to get safely to the other side, from where easy grass took us to the high-point:
Despite appearances, that slag heap isn’t the highest point; it’s at the trig point which lies beyond, which really isn’t visible on this small snap.
The air clarity was superb, giving good views back to Bennachie:
Our next objective was pretty close too – it’s the lump behind me in this photo:
Returning back the way we had come, 3.5 miles had been covered with 800’ of ascent.
Hill of Foudland
As mentioned above, I had originally intended to tackle this hill from the same start point as the last, but the length of the lane-walk which would have been required in both directions (not to mention a small bit of the A96) were off-putting. So, instead I thought we’d see if we could park at the bottom of the track which leads up to the summit, even though I hadn’t looked on Streetview to see how feasible that would be…
…or so I thought. As we approached Jericho, suddenly it all looked familiar and I realised that a) I had journeyed along there on Streetview; and b) the reason I hadn’t put it as our start point was because the road actually ends at Jericho (it becomes a track from that point – something which isn’t apparent from the OS map), and there’s nowhere to leave a Colin-sized vehicle there.
Mick, kind chap that he is, again volunteered to stay with Colin, to cover the slim chance that someone would want to access the field to which we were blocking the gateway, and I, in turn, said I’d get up and down as fast as I could.
The weather helped speed me along. I may be wearing a sunhat and sunglasses in this (appallingly framed) summit selfie, but it had been raining on me for the last ten minutes and it continued to do so for the whole of the descent.
It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable walk either, with some unpleasant tracks, so Mick didn’t miss much.
I was back within an hour and twenty minutes, with 4.2 miles covered involving 950’ of huffing and puffing.
Fourman Hill (NE of Huntly)
Another hill and another bouncy journey in Colin down a very little lane, this time with fingers crossed that there would be somewhere to turn around at the end (I don’t usually take us beyond the last obvious turnaround point). There was indeed somewhere to turn, which also provided somewhere to park, but Mick was concerned that our position would cause a problem if another large vehicle wanted to turn, so he stayed put whilst I toddled off.
It was a shorter and simpler outing than expected, thanks to a track (not shown on the map) which took me the whole way to the top, through glorious flowering heather. A fine smell it was too, and I think the bees (of which there were lots, all very hard at work) agreed:
Opposite the sign were four hives
Equally lovely in appearance and aroma: heather in bloom around the trig point
Seeing a shower approaching as I loitered briefly at the trig, I would have run down this one if I’d been wearing more appropriate footwear (my old Scarpa ZG65 boots, which I’m desperate to wear out so I can finally justify throwing away the uncomfortable things, have been worn for all of this trip), but even without any trotting, I was back at Colin 33 minutes after leaving, as the outing was only 1.6 miles, with a very modest 400’ of ascent.