Busy Banchory

It was still dark when I left home this morning but with a good forecast for the north-east, I was fairly confident at setting off in trust. Sometimes they get it wrong but not today. By the time I’d reached Dundee the sun was rising into a virtually cloudless blue sky. I was even wishing I’d set off earlier.

Nonetheless, I made good time arriving at Banchory in Deeside for the back of 8am. Banchory is always busy even now, in February. Where I was making for though would be less busy the wee forestry car park at the foot of Scolty Hill.

Climbing a hill is maybe not the best of treatment for a sore toe I’ve been nursing but it was just what I needed to shake off the winter cobwebs. It was certainly a cracking day to be heading for the top. As hills go, Scolty Hill is pretty tiny, not even 1000 feet high, but the views from the summit are worthy of a hill twice or even three times its height. Judging by the size of the car park, more than a few folk know that, too.

There are lots of routes to the top some longer with gentler incline, others more direct and of course steeper. Crowning the hill is a tall, slender monument erected in memory of General William Burnett. Among his many other military achievements he was Commander of the Forces in the West Indies. This is a surprising wee hill with tremendous views over the Howe of Banchory.

By climbing the 71 spiral steps of the tower you’ll win an even better viewpoint and see all the way to the coast off Aberdeen. Near the foot of the hill the Water of Feugh tumbles down to join the Dee and just before they meet are the Falls of Feugh. In spring and summer the footbridge above the falls makes an excellent platform from which to watch the salmon leap.

“The Brig o’ Feugh” is one of more than 600 tunes left to us by James Scott Skinner possibly our greatest fiddler and composer of the 19th century. He was born in Banchory in 1843. Another place on the cards for today was a look in at Crathes Castle just a couple miles east along the Dee from here. The snowdrops and aconites in its gardens helped add to the feeling of winter’s departure.

My way home was to take me out by Strachan and over the Cairn o’ Mount to Fettercairn. Passing a sign for the Angus Glens, I knew where I’d be heading tomorrow.

Read more about Willie’s visit to Banchory in our February 14 issue!