All Quiet at The Back o' Bennachie

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

the log

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

73, Fraser


Maybe we were bouncing off the Durris mast :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Nice report Fraser, but how did I manage to miss your activation when I could have used semaphore flags or just shouted out the shack window (almost!). Lengthy illness has kept me out of the shack and off the hills for weeks but this picture shows Oxen Craig taken from my shack window last year, 4.3 miles away. Doubt I’ll ever get a better short-range VHF chasing opportunity …. :rofl: 73 Mike


I did wonder where you were Mike. I was waving. :wink:


I don’t yet have an antenna feedpoint under my duvet…… :rofl:

Anyone who wants to know more about Bennachie and its history can see my video about the visitor centre here; Bennachie Visitor Centre, Aberdeenshire - YouTube


Hi Fraser

Thanks for the great report, photos and contact .

73 Allan

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Cheers Allan. Great to get you in my log from Bennachie :slight_smile:

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I activated from there in the early days of SOTA accompanied by Mark Steven for BBC “Out of Doors” programme. He queried the location not being Mither Tap but readily understood after looking at the map.

That was great early publicity for SOTA


I’ll bet you’ve still got a copy on VHS Barry.

Wow, must be one of the easiest 5 pointers in Scotland (WB period)… but not exactly just down the road from where I usually activate. I must investigate to see whether there are any more in that area to make it worth my while. :grinning:

Many thanks for another excellent report Fraser with some great photos as usual.

73, Gerald


There are a few short walks to 2 point summits in the area Gerald. All under an hour.
Coyles of Muick
A trip along Deeside would allow you to pick these up.

Also, towards the Strathdon area
Lord Arthur’s Hill, an easy Land Rover track
The Buck 30 mins
Tap o’Noth 40 mins, vehicle track
Ben Newe 40 mins

I’m sure you’ll have fun looking those up!


Unfortunately it was Radio Scotland - no video!

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But a long walk - another one that took two tries to qualify

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Compensated by a nice big summit shelter.

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Many thanks Fraser, I sure will. With a lengthy travel distance from south of the border, I’d certainly be looking at maximising the points grab. I just need that rare and extremely valuable commodity called time. :hushed:

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Great report I only know the coast in that area but looking to explore further after doing most of the easy ones here


Well Paul, back of Bennachie is probably a good place to start. Hill of Fare, Brimmond Hill and Carn-mon-earn are also close to Aberdeen and really simple hikes. If you’re ever up this way, keep us (@gm4jxp @MM7MWL @MM0RFN ) in the loop, as we like visitors!


I remember seeing Mither Tap when visiting your namesake, Castle Fraser, last June. I can see why it attracts walkers! 73 John.


Hi Paul, I can second Hill of Fare, as suggested by Fraser. It was my first GM activation last June, so read my report on the Database for more details, an excellent little hill. 73 John.


I enjoyed the Hill of Fare and Benaquhallie in the same area earlier this year. Hopefully, I will be back next year to Aberdeenshire to bag a few more!

Nick G4OOE