A Green Space
Cleanhill, or as it is more commonly known locally, The Hill, lies at the south-western end of Aberchirder. It is a wonderful amenity for local people and visitors alike. There are entrances both at the end of North Street and at two points on the A97 road which leads to Huntly. As well as providing a chance to observe nature, the Hill is an ideal place for a healthy walk (with or without a dog!). There are three circular walks of varying length and steepness, as well as narrower footpaths through parts of the woods.
No matter what time of the year, there is plenty to look at – the colours of the trees and shrubs, fungi growing on the ground and on trees, the sunlight dappling through the leaves. Don’t forget to listen and use your sense of smell as well. On wet days the woods have a peaty smell, quite different from the coconut smell of the broom on a fine spring day or the honeysuckle on a summer evening. On windy days, listen to the wind rustling the leaves on the trees and on quiet days, enjoy the peaceful woodland setting.
On days when the weather is kind, it is very pleasant to have a picnic in relaxing surroundings – tables are provided at the southern end of the Hill. Benches are also situated at regular intervals on the paths, many of them offering fine views. The southwest end of Cleanhill offers the best view of all. In the foreground lies the A97 road leading to Bridge of Marnoch and Kinnairdy Castle, with Huntly and the Grampian Mountains beyond. Look for the distinctive flat summit of Tap o’ Noth. To the right you can see where the Deveron Valley leads past Old Marnoch Church to Rothiemay. Further to the right again, the view stretches over the Auchintoul estate and Culvie towards the well-known landmark of Knock Hill which stands dark against the sky. Sit for a while looking at this panorama (which constantly transforms with changes in the light) and you will feel the better for it!
A Brief History
Cleanhill Wood was bought for £110 in 1930 from the Wilsons of Home Farm of Auchintoul by Aberchirder Town Council and it has been a popular walk for local people ever since. The Council acted as trustees for an Amenities Committee which arranged for maintenance to be carried out by volunteers. This continued until 1996, when Aberdeenshire Council agreed to take over the woodland.
Since 2000, the Community Association has been working in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council and Scottish Wildlife Trust to implement a management plan drawn up by the Trust. The aims are to gradually replace non-native species with native ones, control beech and sycamore regeneration and create wildflower areas. By providing volunteers to undertake some of the maintenance work, local people are once again helping to conserve and develop one of Aberchirder’s prize assets.
At the highest point of the Hill you can see two prominent historic features. One is an observation post which was built as part of the local World War Two defence system. The nearby reservoir was built in the 1960s to hold water pumped from the River Deveron at Marnoch, to provide Aberchirder with a much-needed increase in its water supply.