Margaret has been complaining that she’s not done a hillwalk with me for ages, so we decided to head up the Ochils from Tillicoultry [where I grew up] to Dollar and then back along the disused railway line/Devon Way. The hillwalk part of the journey was based on the Walkhighlands route.
We started out from the Mill Glen in Tillicoultry, but quickly left the path which skits around the hill, deciding instead to head straight up and over the steep slopes of Kirk Craigs. As we climbed the views down into Forth Valley we’re hampered by the heavy haze which had been forecast due to the recent spell of high pressure over the UK. But it was warm with a light breeze – pleasant walking conditions.
It was slow going up the steep slope, we zigzagged back and forth and stopped for a breather overlooking Daiglen Burn and down into the quarry.
We topped out on Kirk Craigs and could see the path ahead that we’d need to rejoin, thankfully most folk on it seemed to be heading up the left fork toward Skythorn Hill and the Glendevon reservoirs. We saw a couple of mountain bikers coming down at this point, I’ve never been keen enough to try that myself, I reckon the ascent would kill me, but it’s probably great once you’re up there. Ideal rolling/undulating terrain. The Ochils don’t really get the heart racing [except the initial climb], they’re not jaw dropping, unless you’re from Holland or Denmark maybe. The treeless, mostly featureless plateau would be great for ski touring though, something I hope to try next winter.
We finally made the summit cairn on King’s Seat hill and not before time, as we were both getting pretty hungry. There’s nothing quite like cheese and onion sammiches on the hill, it makes a pleasant change from muesli bars and the like which I usually take when camping out.
The climbing over we started on the descent down into Dollar. By this point I was daydreaming about a refreshing pint of cider, we were more or less out of water at this point, the Ochils aren’t the easiest place to find fast flowing water sources to refill from, most of them are cut into deep glens. We dropped by the memorial commemorating the young airmen who crashed into the hillside in poor weather in WWII. There’s no sign of any wreckage on the hill. I doubt most 22 year olds would be allowed near a fighter plane these days, needs must when you’re fighting a war though…
From above the castle, we dropped down into Dollar Glen and made our way down through the heavily wooded ravine toward the town and the pub [The King’s Seat Restaurant and Bar, obviously]. As the big views disappeared the details became more prominent.
We emerged into the Mill Green, where I spent many summer days in my youth, staying out of trouble and being generally well behaved. The cherry blossoms were out along down the burnside in Dollar, but I forgot to take any photos, sorry. I was firmly focussed on my cider and a seat at this point. The haze never really shifted, but the breeze dropped as we lost altitude and it seemed to be getting warmer as the day drew on. We headed out from the pub refreshed and made our way down onto the railway line back toward Tillicoultry, I don’t know how many times I’ve walked or cycled this over the years…
A pleasant 9.3 Miles, it seemed longer though. The walk back along the railway line seemed to really fatigue my joints, so I ended up getting the walking poles out again, which helped. I’m hoping to pack up for an overnighter Sun/Mon, so hopefully I’ll have more to share when I get back.