Oxen Craig GM/ES-061
Bennachie, more than any other, is Aberdeenshire’s mountain. Twenty minutes from the city of Aberdeen, low enough that many can climb it (529 m) and great paths and views from sea to the High Cairngorms horizon. Very distinctive, it is visible from most of the Shire.
Why then does no-one actually go to the summit?
Mither Tap is the point that everyone climbs. It’s easily accessible from two of the three car parks that surround the hill and it’s the most mountainous looking. It’s also just 10 metres lower than the true summit and from most angles it actually looks higher. I suspected that I’d have a quiet time on top of Oxen Craig GM/ES-061 this afternoon and I did.
I set off from the “Back o’ Bennachie” car park, which is a pay and display forestry car park with toilets. The ascent was on great paths throughout and commenced through some nice autumnal woodland. There are signposts throughout. More on this later…
the short route to Oxen Craig. Mither Tap to the east
the lower pathway
Soon I was above the tree line and came across the first of several junctions. The Bennachie massif is like a mini plateau with various tops dotted around its circumference. Well built paths criss-cross the plateau, linking them.
all trails lead to Mither Tap
Unfortunately none and I mean NONE of the posts mention Oxen Craig, the true summit of the little mountain! For those unfamiliar with the area, a map/GPS is recommended.
Thirty minutes after setting off, I was at the foot of the rocky rise that would lead me up to the summit. Even here, the signpost did not mention this. I actually checked on my GPS to doubly make sure I was in the place I thought I was in.
the summit area of Oxen Craig is behind this sign
I clambered over the rough granite slabs and was soon greeted by a grand vista along with a trig point and summit shelter. A stiff breeze blew across the top so I decided to use the shelter. I didn’t expect any walkers to be stopping for a brew at 4pm.
summit view to the south west
I’d brought the sotabeams carbon6 pole and a 41’ random with counterpoise. A handy slot in some rocks for the mast meant that the wire just reached inside the stone circle and I was soon good to go on 40 m SSB.
looking east to Mither Tap
I found the band very quiet and it sook several CQ calls to get a response. However, I soon worked five stations including a summit station @M3TMX Jordan. When it dried up I moved up to 20 m. Six in the log here with QSB. A nice summit to summit with @OE5EEP Heinz which was just manageable with the fading.
VHF was next in order. I dropped the mast and brought it into the shelter. I hoisted the slim-g and had a QSO with @GM4JXP Simon (via whatsapp) and then called fruitlessly for another twenty minutes without response. I couldn’t even raise anyone on the local repeater. Standard. The QSO with Simon was a strange one. He was beaming at me from his garden, no doubt running 40 or 50 watts from his ft857d and was barely readable. My 5 watts got me a 5/9 report. Simons signal improved as he moved the beam away from me. There may have been some unusual reflections going on…
2 m and no fun
I packed up, taking one last look at the late afternoon views and then headed back down. A great way to spend a couple of hours and for those with some time on their hands, read on.
late afternoon sun
Millstone Hill GM/ES-077 lies just 4 km to the SSE of Oxen Craig and the two could be combined into a nice day out. Alternatively Millstone Hill can be climbed from the Donview car park to the south. This would mean climbing Oxen Craig, descending the same way and then driving round to the Donview car park. It is a nice wee 1 pointer, with great views of…Bennachie of course!
on to Millstone hill
Mither Tap of Bennachie from Millstone Hill GM/ES-077