Old Aberdeen Turnpike
Start location: Hillford Croft, southwest of Oyne (NJ 662 250)
End location: unclassified road near Woodend, southeast of Mither Tap (NJ 700 213)
Geographical area: Grampian
Path Type: Civil Road
Path distance: 6.4km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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A few metres north of Hillford Cottage, a green and white Council sign points east and indicates 'Public Path to Rowantree and Bennachie Centre'. The roadside field gate is easily openable and gives onto a grassy vehicular-width track, running through scrubby woodland at first and then between fields; approaching Horndoyne farm, it becomes more of a muddy, stony tractor-track, weaving past the farm on its north and east sides. For users coming the other way, two white-on-green arrows on wooden posts show the way past the farm, and a 'No right of way' sign preserves privacy at the front (south) of the buildings. At the east end of the farm track, 100m or so past the buildings, one emerges at the very end of a tarred road at a small crossroads. Two further green and white Council signs indicate 'Public Path to Rowantree and Bennachie Centre' (pointing east) and 'Public Path to Back o’ Bennachie' (pointing west). A gate adjacent to the crossroads marks the start of one of the approaches to the hill. The onward route to the east is again a rough vehicular track, climbing steadily over the next kilometre or so. At the Newmains junction, the uphill branch is the onward route. After the high point, the track descends gently towards the Rowantree carpark and it is easy to miss the onward route before this - an inconspicuous earth track. This way consists of an unsurfaced farm-track of vehicular width and contours round the edge of the woods for about 400 metres before it crosses the Maiden Causeway which heads up to Mither Tap - this initial part of the track is not used for recreational purposes and only by the occasional tractor. The track continues on the other side of Maiden Causeway for about another 500m - this part has evidence of been used by walkers and cyclists, as well as tractors.
The track then emerges above Pittodrie House and at this point the composition changes to that of a rock/gravel surface. It is of vehicular width and continues for about 1200m until near a house called Dorlethen. After that it narrows to pedestrian width and consists of an earth/grassy track - there is evidence this is well used by walkers and cyclists. This track continues for about 600m to Woodend Farm and then the route continues to the unclassified road.
There are carparks above Hillford Cottage, at Rowantree and at Tullos Farm.
OS Landranger sheet 38 (Aberdeen & surrounding area)
This path is part of the old Turnpike that ran between Aberdeen and Inverness and so must have been a well used carriage road at some point. Turnpikes were a set of roads that were built in the 18th and 19th century and were funded by tolls. It's thought that the name 'Turnpike' derives from a practice where travellers' way was barred by soldiers with pikes until they were turned. It is interesting to note that America continues to use the term for some roads.
There is an old milestone located at the Newmains junction (GR 678 245), which indicates 'Inverness 80 miles', reflecting the fact that this was an old and very long coach road.