Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trifecta of Scottish Hills

It’s always been a dream of mine to live where it’s hilly. When Jonathan informed me that we were moving to Midland, my first question was whether or not there were hills there. There weren’t. None in Houston either. So when we got word that we were headed to Aberdeen, I was so excited to finally be able to live amongst a curvy landscape.

Aberdeen itself is located on a hill, and my morning runs with Bailey involve almost 3 straight miles of a steady incline. (Take that Cellulite!). As you get further from the beach, the hills get more and more dramatic, eventually becoming the mountainous Highlands about 60 miles inland.  

Though Aberdeenshire doesn’t claim any mountains, it does have 3 locally famous hills which offer panoramic views of the county. Each of these hills has a unique silhouette which makes it identifiable while driving along the countryside.

I am intimiately familiar with each of their shapes since as of this past Saturday I can state that I have climbed to the top of all three.

Well, almost. I didn’t technically make it to the ‘top’ of Bennachie when we went in August, but I gave it the old college try.
Last Wednesday, I went with the AWA Explorer’s hiking group to the top of Clachnaben.
Which, by the way, I have no idea how that one still falls under the category of ‘hill’ rather than mountain. It’s pretty stinkin’ tall and pretty stinkin’ steep, and pretty stinkin’ hard to get up there. I think I deserve to say I climbed the mountain Clachnaben rather than the hill. ‘Hill’ just sounds so wimpy and doesn’t justify what I went through, you know? Anyway: been there, done that, got the pictures and diminished cellulite to prove it.

After climbing Clachnaben, it was time to face Scolty Hill. Now, arguably, Scolty is the least intimidating of all the hills, but not to me. My mom and I have lots of things in common, one of which is our tendency to totally spaz out when we are up high. Since I knew she’d previously freaked out on top of Scolty, I was worried I might have a repeat of Bennachie on my hands once I got near the summit. But the Saturday forecast looked clear, and Bailey wasn’t gonna take herself for a walk, so Jon and I decided to go for it.

There are two ways up Scolty hill: the easy way and the hard way. We intended to take the easy way, but predictably veered off course at some point and ended up climbing vertically for 25 minutes until we reached the top.

Once I got to the top, I was out of breath, but my anxiety was manageable, partly because the views were even more spectacular than we expected.
One plus of these short days that we get during winter is that if you’re on top of Scolty by 11 AM, you still get to see the sunrise.

The hill has a huge observation tower on top, but due to the amount of people there, my irrational fear of tall observation towers, and the fact that we had Bailey in tow, we decided to save that little excursion for another day.
After taking about 162 pictures we made our way back down the ‘easy’ path.  The total hike time (including about 10 minutes of getting lost) took about 50 minutes. We try to give Bailey at least an hour of exercise, so we decided to try out one of the Scotly Woods forest hikes for another 30 minutes.
Thus we rounded out a spectacular morning of hiking, quality time with the pup, and continuing the war on cellulite. Seriously, Nivea needs to get with the program and start incorporating hill climbing into their cellulite reduction beauty regimen. Works better than that lotion I’ve been using for the past 2 years. Just sayin…


  1. COngratulations on conquering the trifecta! As always, pictures are beautiful

  2. Lovely pix! Glad to see I'm not the only person who goes on walks up hills with just the dog for company! I live in Aberdeen too and your blog shows how lovely the area is!
    Karen x