51: Brimmond Hill, Aberdeen City

Brimmond Hill summit
The trig point on the summit of Brimmond Hill.

Date: 22nd May 2022.

Weather conditions: A bit grey and cloudy, but otherwise good for walking.

County Top bagged: Brimmond Hill, which is the highest point in the Aberdeen City council area. Its summit lies at grid reference NJ856092, and there is a trig up there with a spot height of 873 feet/266m above sea level.

Brimmond Hill from Elrick Hill
Brimmond Hill as seen from nearby Elrick Hill.

Historically this point was in (perhaps obviously) Aberdeenshire, and as the Top of that is Ben Macdhui, the second-highest mountain in the whole of the UK, Brimmond Hill clearly cannot lay claim to historic CT status — making this the first walk since January (in the Wirral) where I have bagged only a modern Top. The city has had a certain independence since 1900, lost it in the 1970s for a while, and then in 1996 Aberdeen City was formed, and Brimmond Hill attained its place on the list.

By altitude it ranks 88th of the modern Tops and 108th of the full list. With the current count of modern Tops (which may change), 175, it is the median point, and this illustrates how much lower on average the modern ones are compared to historic Tops, where the median point (Hill of Stake, Renfrewshire) is 1,713 feet high.

Clinterty Woods
In Clinterty Woods, near the start of the walk.

The walk as described below also bags the separate summit of Elrick Hill, at 663 feet/202m. Presumably Michael Moorcock had no hand in the naming of this eminence (if you’re a fantasy geek, you’ll know).

[ << Culter Fell, Lanarkshire/South Lanarkshire (50) | (52) Carn Glas-choire, Nairnshire >> ]

Start and end point of walk: The “Tyrebaggers” car park in Clinterty Woods on the B979, just south of the A96 at NJ851112. This point is not reachable by public transport, but see the ‘access’ notes below.

View from the ascent
View from the ascent.

This car park is technically closed at the moment, perhaps due to the evident storm damage in the woods, but maybe it never reopened after lockdown (though don’t start me on the notion that barricading off rural car parks was somehow what saved us all from death). It’s a moot point anyway as everyone just parked on the roadside.

Pub at end: There is nothing at the terminus, but in nearby Dyce there are two good options. First, the Spider’s Web, next to the railway station; this looks pokey from the outside but inside it is huge, busy when I visited, does food, and is the place where I enjoyed the fairly exciting end of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

Radio mast
The radio mast on the summit, and its accompanying picnic table.

Also worth checking out is Rohaan’s Bar and Grill — if you can find it. It’s down near the Travelodge — if you can find that, too. Pull out the sat nav for both. Rohaan’s is also a surprisingly large establishment and did decent food.

Distance walked: 4 miles/6.4km approximately.

Total ascent: 870 feet/265m approx.

Difficulty: ★★. While this is a short and mostly straightforward walk there are some stony and steep passages, so put on proper walking boots.

Aberdeen, as seen from the summit.

Ease of access: ★★★. For car drivers willing to hoik their vehicle all the way up to Aberdeen it is easy, located just off the city bypass. By public transport the walk is also possible though planning is required. You could walk from Dyce railway station, which is not too far distant, but the trouble is that Aberdeen Airport is in the way, and, sadly but probably inevitably, there’s no shortcut across the runway. From the station, the first and last couple of miles would be beside roads through industrial estates.

More useful are the bus stops around the junction of Argyll Close and Dyce Drive, served by the airport buses (service 727); or use the Craibstone Park & Ride, which is even nearer. Either way, you need to get across the bypass, but nevertheless walks from here are feasible, though obviously the route would need to alter.

This is also my nearest walk yet to an international airport, but ABZ was surprisingly quiet: not a single flight took off or landed in the two hours I was out walking. Maybe because it was a Sunday, maybe because they take the middle of the day off to avoid annoying the residents, or maybe just because, y’know, the economy’s fucked.

Gorse bushes
Gorse in full flower.

Scenic qualities: ★★★. A very good view from the summit is complemented by pleasant (if, presently, damaged) woodland. In May there is a vast profusion of flowering gorse bushes, which will please fans of the colour yellow. (As pictured.)

The area: With around 200,000 inhabitants, Aberdeen is the UK’s northernmost city of anywhere near its size (Inverness doesn’t even come close). It seems also to be home to at least this number of seagulls. It is the base for much of the North Sea oil industry, which means its prosperity fluctuates more forcefully than elsewhere, but it’s been around for a while; its university is the fifth-oldest in Britain, first founded in 1495. With the newer Robert Gordon University nearby having one of the most beautiful campuses that I’ve ever visited, it certainly gives good uni.

Lying signpost
A work of fiction. 1½ miles to the top of Brimmond Hill is more accurate.

It’s probably best known as the ‘Granite City’, with that stone being used to construct the majority of the city centre. On a sunny day it can be very attractive — but on dreich days when half the North Sea seems to be blowing in, not so much. Can’t say I dislike the place though.

Map: As with other walks done in woodland, navigation was at times trickier than when on mountain tops. There are plenty of signposts (such as the one pictured, even if it is blatantly misleading) but all the same, I still needed to consult Explorer 406: Aberdeen and Banchory a few times so bringing along some version of it would be helpful.

On this summary map, the starting point is at the northernmost tip of the circuit, which I went round in a clockwise direction.

Map of walk 51

Route: I wouldn’t come all the way to Aberdeen just to undertake this two-hour ramble, but if you are in the area it’s worth doing. The view from the top is very good, and the woodlands pleasant. However, bear in mind that Clinterty Woods, where I started and ended the walk, were damaged by Storm Arwen which hit in late 2021 (see the commentary). Many trees are down and some paths either closed, or awkward, as a result. You might consider a different start and/or end point.

If you do follow my route, from the car park take the ‘Red Route’ one way or the other; I started to the left (east). Follow the posts with the red markers on them, as pictured here (though not all of them have the added emotional touch). Thanks to the storm damage, I was directed along a diversion, but this was easy enough to follow, past the unexplained sculpture (pictured lower down the page).

Sad route marker
This ‘Red Trail’ marker laments the fallen trees.

When the red markers seem to be directing you back up through a gate, bear left. This heads past the sheds of Glendale and then the signpost pictured above, but the distance marked to Brimmond Hill is pure fiction; at best, that ½ mile might refer to the distance to the car park of that name but even then it’s optimistic. I estimate that it’s at least 1½ miles to the summit from this point. At least the signpost helps get you going the right way.

The golf course becomes your companion behind the fence on the right, and eventually you have to cross a roadway down which golf carts may trundle; here you need to turn 90º to the right, a path which takes you up through more woodland then eventually across a road and to the car park I mentioned earlier. From here all is easy, with the summit being reached along a tarmac road that is the access route for the radio masts on the top. The view is very good, including the city of Aberdeen, the North Sea, and the eastern parts of the Cairngorms and other Aberdeenshire mountains; despite them, however, Brimmond Hill is clearly the highest point for miles around and thus a worthy County Top.

Elrick hill steps
The firest part of the ascent up Elrick Hill.

Head back down the same access road for a while but straight after it goes through the gate (which will probably be open), bear left over the stile. The path here is sketchy but head first in the direction of the farm of Tulloch that is visible below, then bear right somewhat to come out over another stile onto a lane, where head down to the car park for Elrick Woods. A sign then points you up a stairway (pictured) and onto this second summit. Despite its being lower, Elrick Hill is actually a stiffer ascent than Brimmond.

Simply carry straight on over the top, descending through heather and bilberries over a footbridge then onto a lane, where turn left, following the sign for ‘Tyrebaggers’. You are now back on the ‘Red Route’ and can follow the markers back to the car park where you started.

Storm Damage Commentary: Back in February a bad storm hit the southern parts of Britain, including London. The winds were high and some damage was caused. The media told us it was “the Worst Storm in Forty Years!!”.

Sculpture selfie
Sculpture selfie.

This was utter bullshit. I sympathise with those who suffered damage but the way in which the rest of the country was made to share this unfortunate burden was just ridiculous. Local trains were cancelled in Yorkshire despite the fact that the epicentre was nowhere near us, simply because our local operators couldn’t give a crap about refunding any money should a service be delayed a little while and they might end up liable. I live in a town that has been under water four times in the last decade, and in November 2021 ‘Storm Arwen’ hit the northern parts of Britain and caused a whole bunch of damage, particularly to forests, as I saw today. The London-centric media’s notion of ‘worst for 40 years’ is rather challenged by all this.

When I went to Blengdale in Cumbria back in February I had to walk an additional two miles because of the fallen trees, and for a time today I thought the same would be the case. The damage around the Clinterty Woods car park was very evident. But fortunately my planned route was still more-or-less followable, even if I did get a little disoriented in the first mile or so. Once I realised the golf course was more extensive than it appears from the little flag symbol on the OS map, I got my bearings back and in the end, enjoyed the walk. It’s hardly a mountain hike but for the second CT of this trip, it did its job.

Zipwire view
Another view on the ascent, with zipwire.

Little to add today, really (hurrah! go my half-dozen followers of this blog). I plan one more bag on the trip, on Tuesday, with my sights set on Carn Glas-choire, Top of Nairnshire. Even my friend Dan, who has been up more Scottish peaks than most, tells me, ‘wow, that’s obscure’. And the weather is forecast to deteriorate. Still — I have not come all this way north to wimp out at the prospect of a little rain. On we go, along the northern ramparts of the country.


5 thoughts on “51: Brimmond Hill, Aberdeen City

  1. Decent enough views though you will get better ones from Ben MacDui when you get round to it (assuming you do it on a decent day that is – I’ve done it twice – first time saw nowt!)

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