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Bennachie reopens to walkers for first time since Storm Arwen

The car park at Bennachie. Picture by Kenny Elrick
The car park at Bennachie. Picture by Kenny Elrick

One of Aberdeenshire’s most popular walking routes has reopened for the first time since paths were blocked by trees torn down in Storm Arwen.

The car park for Bennachie was closed to visitors at the end of November due to the danger posed by both fallen trees and those that were “hanging” on other branches – and therefore liable to fall at unpredictable moments.

But after much effort from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) and the Bailies of Bennachie, a conservation society that looks after the hill and its environs, people are once again able to access it.

A post on the Bailies’ Facebook page said the opening of the car park and the trail to Mither Tap – the highest point of the hill – was temporary, and FLS signs would point people towards routes that are safe to take.

Paths blocked off at Bennachie last year
Paths blocked off at Bennachie last year. Picture by Kami Thomson

Advising members of the public to check the FLS website before visiting, the forestry body’s area visitor services manager Justin Livesey said: “Clearing windblow is a dangerous and difficult job and needs to be planned meticulously.

“There can be huge tension and forces both in individual trees as well as in jammed stems and root plates that need to be assessed by trained professionals before any clearance work can begin.

“We are therefore asking members of the public to help us by continuing to avoid affected forests. As well as giving our teams the space to work, it will help avoid any accidents and minimise health and safety concerns.”

In another Facebook post from the end of November last year, the Bailies described the scene at the site as one “of utter devastation”.

They shared pictures of trees that had torn up large sections of forest floor as they collapsed in winds that reached up to 100mph in some coastal areas.

Bailie Jackie Cumberbirch was among the members of the public who met with the Duke of Rothesay at Haddo House in Tarves last Friday.

Charles, himself an honorary Bailie after opening the Bennachie Visitor Centre in 1995, was visiting the country park to meet with people helping the north-east to recover from the destruction caused by Arwen.

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