Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Back of Bennachie

Most days (weather dependent!) on my way to work I see Bennachie in the distance.

I've been meaning to visit Bennachie ever since moving to Aberdeenshire. It's a place I've heard of for years ... not least from the words of the Old Blind Dogs song "Gin I were whaur the Gadie rins". I finally made it there a couple of weeks ago. As I'd had a long day out already I didn't do a long walk there, maybe sometime soon I'll make it back and go to the top of Mither Tap.

I parked at the "Back of Bennachie" car park. The Forestry Commission have 4 car parks on Bennachie and a visitor centre too. There's plenty of forest walks of varying lengths, all well signposted.

I followed the 'Wild Wood' trail, where there are a few sculptures en route.

"The stretching of the trunk is the lengthening of the timber."

Up ahead I spotted what looked like one of nature's best sculptures ...

... but when I got to it I found it had been added to.

The wording on this one says "The loss of a great heart is the gain of a small invasion" and it's accompanied by carvings of some of the 'small invasion' of creatures which inhabit the dead wood (and live wood too) in the forest - such as woodlice.

There were lots of wildflowers too - and I realised that I'm going to have to start looking them up as all the common ones in Orkney whose names I knew aren't the same wildflowers found here.

There was another one, with a star like white flower too. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a good photo of it (and then the camera battery ran out) but handily the next week Ian Johnston blogged about it, so I now know it's chickweed wintergreen, a member of the primrose family.

I thought the Forestry Commission had everything well planned and organised to cope with large numbers of visitors without doing much damage to the evironment through footpath erosion, etc. The only thing that disappointed - and really surprised - me was their attitude to dog sh*t. Instead of asking people to bag it up and TAKE IT AWAY they ask you to "flick" it off the path. What on earth is that all about????? That's surely not encouraging responsible access to the countryside?

So beware if you're out walking in Aberdeenshire. There's a lot of dog dirt about pretty much all over the place as far as I can see - so you always need to watch where you're putting your feet anyway - but whatever you do don't step off the paths in the forests as the Forestry Commission are *encouraging* people to *leave* dog dirt there polluting the place!!!! Very strange!

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