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Aerial photos show level of devastation at Bennachie caused by Storm Arwen

Storm damage at Bennachie. Picture by Garry Nicol of Air Ocean Media.
Storm damage at Bennachie. Picture by Garry Nicol of Air Ocean Media.

New aerial photos show the extent of the damage caused by Storm Arwen at Bennachie.

Vast numbers of trees have fallen in the strong winds, leaving large patches of the forest flattened.

Paths leading towards Bennachie have been entirely blocked by trees and debris, making one of the most popular walking spots in the north-east inaccessible.

Bailies of Bennachie, a local conservation group who maintain the area, was forced to make the difficult decision to close the paths while they are being repaired.

Chairwoman, Jackie Cumberbirch, explained: “Following Storm Arwen nearly all the paths on the hill range are blocked by fallen trees.

“A recent survey by the Bailies found many partially fallen trees which could be dangerous to people on the hill. It will be very difficult for any rescuers to access walkers in the event of an accident.

“For these reasons we are urging the public to stay away from Bennachie. A walk up to the peaks is a traditional favourite holiday activity for many, but one that cannot happen this year.”

Storm damage at Bennachie. Picture by Garry Nicol of Air Ocean Media.

Visitor centre closed

Trees also fell into the car park at the Bennachie Visitor Centre. Though the centre itself was luckily left unscathed, both have been closed to the public.

The centre is owned by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), who have been assessing the damage.

Justin Livesey, FLS regional visitor services manager, said: “We have carried out a survey of all the trails and assessed the amount of damage – and there are a lot of blown trees at varying points.

“We are looking at how best we can efficiently and safely complete the clear up at the start of the new year but it is clearly going to be a big job.”

The popular maiden causeway trail, which is on land owned by the Pittodrie House Hotel, has also been closed for public safety.

Hotel manager Andrew Tighe said: “The situation is truly devastating. A monumental number of trees are down.

“We have had to close the trails for public safety because of the number of unsafe and leaning trees. Please do not park at Rowantree or the hotel to walk. I can assure everyone we will get the area clear as quickly as possible.”

Storm Arwen has caused unprecedented damage across the whole of North-East Scotland. For the past forty-eight years,…

Posted by Bailies of Bennachie on Sunday, 5 December 2021

Hopeful for the new year

Ms Cumberbirch acknowledged how many people would be disappointed about the closure of the trails at Bennachie.

She reassured people that they were working hard to get them reopened.

“The Bailies know how important Bennachie is for people especially at this special time of the year,” she said.

“It is heartbreaking that people cannot access the hill and gain all the benefits being there brings. We are working with the landowners to try and resolve this as quickly as possible but sadly it will not be able to visit until into the new year.”

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