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Storm Arwen: Climbers told to stay away from Bennachie as fallen trees block paths

Paths towards Bennachie are blocked off. Picture by Kami Thomson

Members of the public have been asked to stay away from one of the most popular climbs in the north-east, amid “scenes of utter devastation” left by Storm Arwen.

Paths leading towards Bennachie, near Inverurie, have been blocked by trees blown down in the extreme weather last weekend, making them unsafe to use.

The Bailies of Bennachie, a voluntary conservation group that maintains and preserves the hill and its surroundings, said people should avoid the visitor centre, Rowantree, Back O’Bennachie or Donview.

In a post on their Facebook page, the group shared pictures of the damaged forest to demonstrate why it is so dangerous.

Scenes of utter devastation at Bennachie today, after Storm Arwen.PLEASE DO NOT VISIT BENNACHIE VISITOR CENTRE,…

Posted by Bailies of Bennachie on Tuesday, 30 November 2021

The Bennachie Visitor Centre itself came out from the storm unscathed, despite trees reportedly falling into the adjoining car park.

David Leven, the East Region Manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, echoed the Bailies in a statement.

He said: “Many of our forests have been badly impacted with many trails blocked and forest roads and infrastructure damaged.

“There are also a significant number of trees that have been blown over but only partially fallen, as well as a number of trees that are still standing but which might come down in the next heavy gust.”

The Bennachie Visitor Centre, Pitcaple, Inverurie, and paths are closed for safety reasons due to the recent storm. Picture by Kami Thomson

He added: “With more strong winds forecast we don’t want anyone risking their personal safety – or potentially their life – by venturing in to our forests until such time as we can declare them safe.

“Emergency vehicles might well not be able to reach anyone who has an accident so please, stay away for the moment.”

The Met Office had previously predicted fast winds in the area, but speeds are now expected to be lower.

However, further chilly weather may discourage hikers from visiting Bennachie, with a yellow weather warning for ice in place between 6pm this evening and 10am tomorrow.

Temperatures in Inverurie are not expected to go above 2C before Friday.

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