Consultation on Bennachie

Heritage Consulting has been commissioned to carry out a review of the 'visitor experience' at Bennachie and to establish a new Visitor experience Plan. This involves looking at how the hill is used and what developments there might be in the future. The following is NEMT's response:

NEMT welcomes the opportunity that this consultation brings. Bennachie is a very popular hill and one enjoyed by many who do not venture into more remote or challenging areas, including families with young children. Because of this, those managing the hill have the difficult task of trying to balance many, potentially conflicting, interests. First and foremost, Bennachie is a hill and an oasis of wilder country amidst farm land. As such NEMT views it as an area to be explored and enjoyed and not as a resource to be exploited for recreational or other purposes.

NEMT would not want to see any infrastructure developments of any sort above the tree line.
The hill is well served by paths. NEMT would not want there to be further path developments above the tree line beyond maintenance of those which were upgraded a few years ago. In particular, NEMT does not think that there should be any path work in the Watch Craig and Hermit Seat areas which should be left for the more adventurous to explore.
NEMT raised concerns about the need for the type of visually intrusive signage which was erected a few years ago. In particular, an individual member of NEMT raised the issue of the sign close to the summit of the Oxen Craig which is visible on the skyline from as far away as the Mither Tap. He was advised that consideration would be given to re-siting this. Unless this has been done very recently, the sign is still in the same place. NEMT would welcome it being moved to a more suitable location.
The toilets at the Back of Bennachie car park are often closed and those at the Rowan Tree car park close in winter. Given the popularity of the hill with families, it would be helpful to have these toilets open all year.
Mountain Bikes
NEMT does not think that the paths on the higher reaches of the hill are suitable for mountain bikes. The paths there are too narrow to permit easy overtaking of walkers, especially families with young children. The Access Code does not restrict cycling as such but its foundation is responsible behaviour and it can be argued that cycling at speed downhill on paths which families regularly use is irresponsible. Mountain bikers do, however, need to be catered for and one solution might be to build dedicated and adventurous biking trails within the woods and then discourage biking completely above the tree line.
Current felling is inevitably leaving part of the hill looking like a building site. We hope replanting is an option and can take place as soon as possible. NEMT would like to see the area around Esson's Croft developed with native planting, and not plantation conifers.
Gordon Way
This may be beyond this consultation but is included because a significant section lies on Bennachie. a) Drainage is very poor after leaving the track past Oxen Craig. b) The car park on B992 is in very poor condition. c) The section west from Towmill needs considerable attention.
Further involvement
NEMT would like to be consulted on future developments.

George Allan

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