Benachie - Signs of our Times

Readers of Mountain Views will be aware that the Trust raised concerns a while back about what some consider to be the over-engineering in the upgrading of the paths between Mither Tap and Oxen Craig and the sprouting of large way markers at every junction. The latter replaced old, less visually intrusive markers. The addition of further way markers led me to write to the Forestry Commission in a personal capacity.

The response I received was comprehensive and courteous and made the following points:

In particular, I raised the case of the sign on the top of Oxen Craig which dominates the skyline and is visible from the top of Mither Tap. The response to this was that the Commission does intend to consider changing its position or lessening its impact. Further enquiries ascertained that the Commission does not have a specific policy on signage other than at access points.

I discussed these responses with NEMT's General Council. The Council decided to pursue aspects of this further including encouraging the Commission to remove the post from the summit of the Oxen Craig and attempting to ascertain the actual extent of mountain rescue on the hill.

There are two sides to this issue. Bennachie can be seen as a 'family hill', enjoyed by many who would not otherwise venture into higher areas, and therefore allowance should be made for this. The counter argument is that the hill is rapidly becoming 'urbanised' and, if there has been a significant problem of people becoming lost, then intrusive way marking should not have been the solution. Another option would have been to provide photocopied diagrams at access points, perhaps linking these to unobtrusive numbering at key path intersections.

These signs are here to stay but NEMT's further engagement with the Commission may reduce the chances of what many believe to be a mistaken approach being repeated elsewhere.

George Allan, Council Member

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