The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Knock Hill and Meikle Balloch Hill

Friday 28 August

Knock Hill (NE of Keith, Moray)


If you were to ask a child to draw a hill, then Knock Hill is likely what they would produce. It’s a heather-clad, oversized molehill which protrudes 230m above the surrounding land, making it clearly visible for miles around (in fact, it was negligent of me not to get a snap of it from afar).

A lane so small that we overshot on the first pass, mistaking it for a driveway, with one of the worst surfaces we’ve driven on this trip, took us to a good parking area just a few paces from the start of the ascent path.

That was an ascent to get the body going (/complaining loudly) first thing in the morning! The total distance to the top was 0.7 miles, about 0.6 miles of which was uphill, during which distance we ascended 750’. For once, I think I’ve managed to capture the gradient in this snap:


The slope angle combined with the peaty ground and footfall has, over time, allowed rain water to do its work, leading to some severe erosion of the trodden line. That made the going more huff-and-puff-worthy than the gradient deserved, such that it took us half an hour to reach the top (I say ‘us’, but I’m sure that if Mick had been on his own he would have been up there significantly faster).

What a fine morning it was for it, with no hint of waterproofs being required:


Then off we strode, back to our start point, and onwards to the next hill (via a prolonged coffee break in Keith – we were on a very relaxed schedule today).

Meikle Balloch Hill (just E of Keith, Moray)

imageMeikle Balloch Hill, sitting only just outside of the town of Keith, looks far less interesting than Knock Hill from a distance, although with these parts being relatively flat, it is another one that stands out in the landscape, shouting “I’m a Marilyn” as you approach it.

A couple of miles of little lane took us to a parking area behind the water works, where I was impressed with the visual representation of the available waymarked routes. The information sign only half in shot confirmed that we wanted the light blue route (“Good job” said Mick, “as we don’t have a horse with us”).


Until we got to the top our path was a well-surfaced one and, by all appearances, the peaty path across the summit plateau will soon be surfaced too (note the pile of stone chunks to the left of the trig, upon which a woman is standing in the snap below; the surfaced path currently ends just left of my right hand):


Apparently the highest point of this hill lies 5m off the path, in between a cairn and the trig point. This spot where I am in the snap above was my best guess as to its position.

There have been a lot of out-and-back walks this week, but today the blue route provided us with a pleasant circuit. They got the distance wrong on the sign, at least according to my GPS, which recorded it as 2.1 miles with 500’ of ascent.

Back at Colin before lunchtime, there would have been plenty of time to go and visit either Ben Aigin or the two Conval hills (just outside of Dufftown), but I decided that the afternoon would be far better drinking tea with a friend instead, not to mention catching up with blogging and watching a film*.

(*I failed in the latter. Faffing with GPS tracks, my stats spreadsheet and photos, then stringing together sentences for a blog post can take a surprisingly long time. Unfortunately these days it takes longer than my aging laptop battery lasts, which is why the last few days posts have been delayed. I’ve had plenty of internet access, but no electricity.)


  1. Meikle Balloch Hill, Laura and I have 'ticked' that one. Nice stroll it was too.

    1. It was a nice stroll, and nice to see such efforts being made to entice people onto the hill, but we did pick up more plastic bottles on this hill than on any other of the trip.

    2. Did you find the strange memorial near the top?

    3. No. What was strange about it?