Geo-Trips :: The Balloch and the Bin

Keith to Huntly

A walk from Keith, Fri, 30 Oct 2020 by Anne Burgess

We left a car near Huntly and another at Herricks on the slope of Meikle Balloch just outside Keith. We followed forest tracks clockwise round the north slope of the hill and through the pass between Meikle Balloch and Little Balloch. (Balloch is from the Gaelic word bealach, meaning a col or pass between hills, but here it has migrated to become the name of the hills themselves.)

Leaving the forestry on a newly upgraded path to Sittinghillock, we followed a short muddy path, then farm roads and finally a minor tarmac road to Ruthven (pronounced 'Rivven').

Crossing another minor road at Ruthven, we followed the arrow-straight School Road and its extension to Brownhill Plantation, then took a riders' path along the edge of the wood. This path is a bit overgrown but easy enough to follow. It emerges into a rough grassy field where it winds among the tussocks, still in more or less the same direction, but it became a bit wet underfoot and I found out that my boots are not waterproof!

At the far end of the field the path follows a gap between forest blocks until it reaches the end of a forest road at the access to Cumrie Farm.

We could have followed this road back to our waiting car, but we were using a route from Viewranger which for some strange reason does a dog-leg uphill into Bin Hill Forest before following another road and eventually rejoining the direct route. (Bin, like the more common ben, is from the Gaelic word beinn meaning a hill or mountain, so the name Bin Hill is tautological.)

The total distance was just over 10 miles from car to car, and if we had not followed the uphill dog-leg it would have involved only a few tens of metres of ascent.

Click the blue circles to see a photograph taken from that spot and read further information about the location. The blue lines indicate the direction of view. There is also a slideshow of this trip. ( )

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NJ4549 : Herricks Water Treatment Works by Anne Burgess
Herricks Water Treatment Works
The plant, on the slope of Meikle Balloch, provides water for the town of Keith.... more

NJ4649 : Forest Track by Anne Burgess
Forest Track
This is just shown as a firebreak on the map but it has been improved to create a... more

NJ4650 : Logs by Anne Burgess
It looks as if one or more trees here have been felled and the logs cut up by... more

NJ4750 : Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) by Anne Burgess
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
It's unusual to see one of these without the characteristic white spots on the... more

NJ4750 : Chanterelles? by Anne Burgess
Perahps someone will be able to confirm what species these are.

NJ4750 : Meikle Cantly by Anne Burgess
Meikle Cantly
A gap in the trees offers a view of the countryside. The nearest farm is Meikle... more

NJ4750 : Balloch Wood by Anne Burgess
Balloch Wood
Beyond the saplings in Balloch Wood is a wide view over the parishesof Grange and... more

NJ4750 : Balloch Wood by Anne Burgess
Balloch Wood
The growing trees don't yet hide the views towards Knock Hill, on the right, Lurg... more

NJ4750 : Waymarker in Balloch Wood by Anne Burgess
Waymarker in Balloch Wood
We have come from 'Car Park'; we could have turned left downhill to Cantly, but... more

NJ4749 : Balloch Wood by Anne Burgess
Balloch Wood
This part of the wood is not densely planted lower down, allowing some Scots Pines... more

NJ4749 : Water Sampling Point by Anne Burgess
Water Sampling Point
We had seen some things that look like manhole covers, but this was the first one... more

NJ4749 : Glacks of Balloch by Anne Burgess
Glacks of Balloch
Several forest roads converge at Glacks of Balloch, including this one that we... more

NJ4748 : Balloch Wood by Anne Burgess
Balloch Wood
Different autumn colours pick out belts of different trees. The yellow ones are... more

NJ4748 : Forest Waymarker by Anne Burgess
Forest Waymarker
The signpost indicates the southern end of the Balloch Burn Loop.

NJ4747 : Forest Waymarker by Anne Burgess
Forest Waymarker
We have come from the direction of Cantly, and instead of going on towards... more

NJ4747 : Sittinghillock Path by Anne Burgess
Sittinghillock Path
The path out of Balloch Wood to Sittinghillock has been improved and id dry and... more

NJ4747 : Farmland near Sittinghillock by Anne Burgess
Farmland near Sittinghillock
The path emerges from the forest, and at once the views over the surrounding land open up.

NJ4847 : Aspens and Gates by Anne Burgess
Aspens and Gates
There are few leaves left on these trees, which I think must be aspens because of... more

NJ4847 : Abandoned Equestrian Arena by Anne Burgess
Abandoned Equestrian Arena
At least I can't think what else it might be.

NJ4847 : Burnside of Sittinghillock by Anne Burgess
Burnside of Sittinghillock
A traditional stome house with non-traditional windows.

NJ4847 : Burnside of Sittinghillock by Anne Burgess
Burnside of Sittinghillock
The farm with the forest on Meikle Balloch in the background.

NJ4847 : Sitting Hillock by Anne Burgess
Sitting Hillock
Autumn colours on farmland near Sittinghillock Farm.

NJ4847 : Looking towards Ballochburn by Anne Burgess
Looking towards Ballochburn
The farm buildings at Ballochburn are just inside the next grid square. On the... more

NJ4847 : Field Entrance by Anne Burgess
Field Entrance
What seems to be an ephemeral pond has appeared beside a field entrance near... more

NJ4947 : Hallgreen Farm by Anne Burgess
Hallgreen Farm
This is Hallgreen in the parish of Cairney or Cairnie, not to be confused with... more

NJ5047 : Craigtown by Anne Burgess
The house and steading at Craigtown are falling in to ruin.

NJ5047 : A Glimpse of Flooders by Anne Burgess
A Glimpse of Flooders
There's a dense row of broom bushes along the roadside here, allowing only... more

NJ5047 : Looking towards Daugh by Anne Burgess
Looking towards Daugh
The farm of Daugh, which the old maps proclaim stands on the site of the Castle of... more

NJ5047 : Little Daugh by Anne Burgess
Little Daugh
The building ahead looks like a good example of a traditional stone steading,... more

NJ5047 : Stone Gatepost by Anne Burgess
Stone Gatepost
A standing stone, complete with a hole that was presumably used to attach a gate.

NJ5047 : Little Daugh by Anne Burgess
Little Daugh
Large-scale maps show that the farm buildings at Little Daugh are indeed a... more

NJ5047 : Burn of Cairnie by Anne Burgess
Burn of Cairnie
Looking upriver from the road bridge at Ruthven.

NJ5047 : Burn of Cairnie by Anne Burgess
Burn of Cairnie
Looking downstream from the bridge at Ruthven.

NJ5047 : Road Bridge by Anne Burgess
Road Bridge
The bridge carries the minor road over the Burn of Cairnie at Ruthven. In the... more

NJ5046 : Old Schoolhouse by Anne Burgess
Old Schoolhouse
There's something about the Victorian school houses in this part of the world that... more

NJ5046 : School Road by Anne Burgess
School Road
Looking north along School Road towards the crossroads in Ruthven village. We had... more

NJ5046 : School Road by Anne Burgess
School Road
The last two houses in School Road are relatively modern bungalows.

NJ5046 : Ruthven by Anne Burgess
At extreme left is School Road, and to the right is the large steading at Little... more

NJ5046 : Old Field Dyke by Anne Burgess
Old Field Dyke
The dyke is built of rounded boulders from the fields round about, but is now... more

NJ5046 : Grassy Road by Anne Burgess
Grassy Road
The road has deteriorated from tarmac beside the bungalows, to unsurfaced and... more

NJ5046 : Brownhill Wood by Anne Burgess
Brownhill Wood
The entrance to Brownhill Wood from Ruthven.

NJ5046 : Waymarker by Anne Burgess
We were following a route found online by my companion, although I was... more

NJ5046 : Brownhill Wood by Anne Burgess
Brownhill Wood
Looking into Brownhill Wood from the narrow path that passes along the east side... more

NJ5146 : Whins in Flower by Anne Burgess
Whins in Flower
There's a saying, "When the whin's not in flower, courting's out of... more

NJ5146 : Grassy Path by Anne Burgess
Grassy Path
The path alongside the wood has almost disappeared in the long grass.

NJ5146 : White Hill by Anne Burgess
White Hill
Looking towards the summit of the modest hill from the grassy path alongside... more

NJ5146 : Beside Brownhill Wood by Anne Burgess
Beside Brownhill Wood
The old dyke is parallel to the grassy path along the edge of Brownhill Wood.

NJ5145 : Scots Pines by Anne Burgess
Scots Pines
A short strip of Scots Pines between the Hogston Burn and Brownhill Wood.

NJ5145 : Drainage Ditch by Anne Burgess
Drainage Ditch
The ditch is invisible because of the dense vegetation. It drains into the Hogston Burn.

NJ5145 : Grassland by Anne Burgess
As I surmised, the path we had been following ended at a gate, and we were now... more

NJ5145 : Almost Buried by Anne Burgess
Almost Buried
At my feet is a rock that is all but buried. I cannot tell whether it is a loose... more

NJ5145 : Field Path by Anne Burgess
Field Path
The path is just about discernable winding through the long grass. Unfortunately,... more

NJ5145 : View to the North by Anne Burgess
View to the North
There's a ditch just on the other side of the old dyke, and the ground slopes... more

NJ5145 : Boulders in the Grass by Anne Burgess
Boulders in the Grass
The faint path skirts these boulders, though I remain unsure whether they are... more

NJ5145 : Rock Outcrop by Anne Burgess
Rock Outcrop
This is the south end of a low hummock that seems to have been quarried at some... more

NJ5145 : Boulders by Anne Burgess
I imagine that these are likely to be erratics, but it seems strange that they... more

NJ5145 : Field Gate by Anne Burgess
Field Gate
The trees on the skyline mark the location of the ruins of a farm called Mortlach,... more

NJ5144 : Road to Cumrie Farm by Anne Burgess
Road to Cumrie Farm
Our path has emerged from the wet grassland on to the end of the forest road where... more

NJ5144 : Grassy Path by Anne Burgess
Grassy Path
Looking north along the grassy path we have just walked along at the edge of Bin... more

NJ5044 : Loch of Mortlach by Anne Burgess
Loch of Mortlach
The flat are on the far side of the road is marked on the map as Loch of Mortlach.... more

NJ5044 : Norway Spruce Cone by Anne Burgess
Norway Spruce Cone
Norway Spruce have longer and more tapering cones than Sitka Spruce. They also... more

NJ5044 : Loch of Mortlach by Anne Burgess
Loch of Mortlach
A glimpse through a gap in the trees of the boggy area named on maps as Loch of... more

NJ5044 : Scots Pines by Anne Burgess
Scots Pines
A few Scots Pines that have had room to grow into a more natural shape than in... more

NJ5044 : Gap in the Forest by Anne Burgess
Gap in the Forest
It's always good to get a wider view than just wall-to-wall trees. The view is... more

NJ5144 : Firebreak on Bin Hill by Anne Burgess
Firebreak on Bin Hill
I imagine it's intended as a firebreak, but would this really be enough to halt a... more

NJ5144 : Blind Burn by Anne Burgess
Blind Burn
I have to take it on trust that the Blind Burn is here somewhere, as the map says,... more

NJ5143 : Road to Roadburn by Anne Burgess
Road to Roadburn
The road passes between beech and birch, currently displaying bright autumn colours.

NJ5143 : Towards Roadburn by Anne Burgess
Towards Roadburn
The forest road north-east towards Roadburn.

NJ5143 : Forest Clearing by Anne Burgess
Forest Clearing
The clearing owes its existence to the Road Burn, which flows through this area... more

NJ5042 : Beech Foliage by Anne Burgess
Beech Foliage
Beech foliage in its spectacular autumn colours.

NJ5042 : Side Road by Anne Burgess
Side Road
The Bin Hill Forest is criss-crossed by a network of paths and roads. This is one... more

NJ5042 : Gated Road by Anne Burgess
Gated Road
The main road through the forest is not gated at the entrance because it is also... more

NJ5041 : Bin Hill Forest car park by Anne Burgess
Bin Hill Forest car park
This is the smaller section of the car park, just off the A96. There is more... more

NJ5041 : Bin Hill Forest Walks by Anne Burgess
Bin Hill Forest Walks
The [[6661490]] has maps of the marked walks, and the waymarker points to the red... more

NJ5041 : Information Board by Anne Burgess
Information Board
All the information is on the left-hand board, and the other is empty!

All images © Anne Burgess and available under a Creative Commons licence external link.

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