Ben-y-vrackie

Ben Vrackie from the A9

Ben Vrackie also called Ben y Vrackie

Pitlochry Ben Vrackie or Ben y Vrackie from the A9Pitlochry's mountain Ben Vrackie also called Ben y Vrackie (Speckled Mountain), speckled on account of the quartz stones that once covered the mountain.  It is 2757 ft or 841 m high it is classified as a Corbett. Corbett's are Scottish mountains between 2,500ft and 3,00ft.

The Ben Vrackie walk - is described in some walking books as a challenging walk.  The path is over Moorland and a final steep path to the summit, with spectacular views. Make sure you wear good boots take waterproof sand a man and I suitably clad for the time of year.

Walk time and distance it is about 5 miles, 2.5 miles there and back. Walking guide books recommend you allow between 4 to 5 hours.

How difficult is the Ben Vrackie walk? We are often asked this. The video below shows you the route in detail. It is a steady climb up a well maintained path up to the lochen. The final climb is steep, like going up a very uneven stair case, the video shows this well. There are no large boulders to clamber over, as with some of the other Scottish mountains. Make sure you have the right footwear, clothing and food and water. Remember conditions at the bottom are often very different at the top of Scottish mountains.

The Ben Vrackie car park.

Ben Vrackie car parkThe Ben Vrackie car park is situated among the trees behind Moulin Inn. Heading up through Moulin from Pitlochry, take the left turn behind the Moulin Hotel, then a right at the first junction. There is an overflow car park which you pass first, as the smaller original car park fills quickly. From the original car park, the path follows the Moulin burn through mixed woodland.

The video details the walk from Moulin to the top of Ben y Vrackie. It shows the type of terrain you will walk over and the path to the top, to help you assess whether it is for you. You will also see great views at the top, which are explained in the video too.

Bronze age hut circles.

The Moorland above Moulin to the right are remains of 5 Bronze age (2500 BC – 800 BC) hut circles, settlements and field systems.

Walkers with the Bronze age hut circles in the distance behind themDescribed as “Badyo, hut circles and farmstead - Each monument comprises the remains of between two to seven hut circles (circular houses). The single and other double walled houses are between 9m and 13m in diameter. The distance between the double walls can be as much as 3 ft apart. There are also the remains of a contemporary field system, which are marked by field clearance cairns.”

The hut circles, settlements and field systems are of particular importance because of the proximity of other monuments of similar date. Taken together they have the potential to enhance considerably our understanding of the development and organisation of the prehistoric landscape.

The remains lie in areas of rough pasture on the margins of the modern landscape. Often preserved under a blanket of peat. Many similar structures will have been lost a long time ago in Scotland's best agricultural landscape.

The path before the lochen above Pitlochry

The path passes between two small Hills, 'Meall na h-Aodainn Moire' pronounced 'Meel na H aytin M o r' - (Aodain is a face or brow. Meall is probably from Maol rounded promentary). Also 'Creag Bhreac' (Speckled crag) pronounced 'Krake Vrayk' before dropping down to 'Loch a Choire' (Cauldron Lake. Choire is a kettle or cauldron). Loch a Choire is at the base of the final climb to the summit.

On the way you will see a sign saying 'Bealloch' pronounced 'Bee Alloch' meaning a Pass through the hills.

Mountain Hare and Red Grouse.

Looking down over the lochen towards PitlochryYou might catch a glimpse of Mountain Hare and Red grouse.

Mountain Hare is a native to the Scottish Highlands but introduced elsewhere in the UK. It is about half a metre in length and weighs about 2 1/2 kilos or 5 pounds to a maximum of 3 and a half kilos or 8 pounds. The average lifespan is 3 to 4 years. Their coat changes to white during the winter. They shelter in ‘forms’ which are shallow depressions in the ground or grass. They do not dig burrows. The females produce from 1 to 4 litters of (one to three leverets) a year.

26th August 2019 Scottish Mountain Hare Report - stated that Scotland’s mountain hare populations have experienced a major decline. New evidence revealing catastrophic mountain hare declines particularly in areas managed for intensive driven grouse shooting activity. The status of the mountain hare has been downgraded to ‘unfavourable’ by the EU. Meaning that special conservation action needs to be undertaken to arrest further declines and aid their recovery.
MSPs have banned unlicensed culling of mountain hares.

Members of the Scottish Parliament vote to license mountain hare culling.

The stone steps at the top of Ben Vrackie PitlochryOn the 17th June 2020 - MSPs have voted to ban the unlicensed culling of mountain hares and make Scottish Mountain Hare a protected species. Mountain hares are Britain's only native hare and may have been here since the last ice age. A report published in 2018 in the Journal of Applied Ecology and found that numbers fell annually by an average of almost 5% until 1999 when the decrease accelerated. Its findings were disputed by moorland managers.

Gamekeepers insist that the Scottish Parliament has made a "grave mistake" and the move is bad for land management. Rural Affairs Minister Maria Gougeon said that it "would mean there would no longer be an open season for mountain hares. Control of their numbers would need to be done under licence all year round, for permitted purposes, such as preventing serious agricultural damage". The minister added that this "strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of those involved in land management and protecting an iconic Scottish species".

Scotland’s farming and land managing communities yet again have issues with managing indigenous species. Beaver - raptors (birds of prey), mountain hares ……

It is such a pity Scotland is not seen as a world leader in how we conserve our indigenous species.

Red Grouse

Ben y Vrackie Pitlochry top cairn

The Red Grouse is unique to the UK. It is reddish brown but it's legs and feet covered in pale feathers. The population is declining perhaps linked to diseases and loss of heather moorland. It's wingspan is just over half a metre and it weighs about 700 grams or 1.5 pounds. You're often see them on Upland Heather Moors such as this. They suddenly shoot up in front of you to fly off at speeds of up to 70mph to sound of fast wearing wing beats.

The shooting season in Scotland is from the 12th of August to the 10th of November. Known as the glorious 12th! The 12th August is a sacred date, dubbed by some the 'New Years Day of hunting', for it marks the start of the 121-day grouse shooting season. Commonly known as the 'Glorious Twelfth'

Views from Ben Vrackie are excellent, especially over Pitlochry towards the west and north to Blair Atholl. Looking up the Glen of the river Garry towards Drumochter pass the line taken but General Wade's Road in 1728. The same line is followed by the A9 and the railway today.