grassy slopes of the high Ochil Hills make a comforting contrast to their
steep southern defences. The volcanic hills rise abruptly above the lazy
curves of the River Forth. Several villages, the Hillfoots, are spaced
below the hills. The highest hill is Ben Cleuch, at 721m.
is possible to make a high-level traverse of the Ochils, they really lend
themselves better to several independent sorties as many fine ridges lead
south from the backbone of the group. This walk takes in four summits,
including Ben Cleuch, and may be looked on as a deep-end introduction
to this fine group. There are several steep sections but no scrambling
the public car park in the Ochil Hills Woodland Park (NS 899 975), gained
from the A91 at the east end of Alva. Cross the road to enter the wood
and climb west up the track to just before Silver Burn (named after the
truly impressive amount of silver which was mined here in the 18th century).
Turn hard right up the vegetation-smothered slopes, following a path.
It leads to several large trees which thin out on the shoulder of Wood
Hill. The path continues up, crossing a fence to gain more open slopes,
on the left of a straggling collection of pine trees. Follow the path
which soon tacks on to an ancient, grass-covered dyke.
dyke leads to the small rocky bowl below Wood Hill summit (525m), with
fine views south towards the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh, east over the
Kingdom of Fife, and west along the front face of the Ochils to the Touch
and Gargunnock Hills beyond Stirling. Photo is from Wood Hill, looking
north, with Ben Ever and Ben Cleuch summits clear.
NNW, with a short diversion necessary to skirt a peculiar dry valley.
This is almost certainly a relic from glaciation, with a basalt sill blocking
the south exit and an opening forced instead at its NW corner. Drop into
its north end then up to gain the ridge of Millar Hill. This fine ridge
leads easily to the summit of Ben Ever (622m), jinking past the rocks
of Calf Craig en route.
Ever continue down the path to the col, then over a stile and up the slope
to Ben Cleuch, the highest point of the day and the Ochils, at 721m. This
section is fairly heavily used and should be treated gently in wet conditions.
At last the summit rocks will slowly heave into view, along with the trig
point, cairn, and indicator viewpoint, now sadly past its best.
now, down gentle slopes and over a col to climb up slightly to Andrew
Gannell Hill (670m). Despite its name, it was not named after some long-dead
person but is seemingly a corruption. Continue east to gain the head of
the Gannell Burn, and turn down the path which leads down its east flank
to enter Mill Glen above Tillicoultry.
down the east of Mill Glen to enter Tillicoultry, continuing back to the
start by public road to pick up a path heading west above the golf course,
or, across from the quarry, double back above Mill Glen to cross the burn
via a bridge. The path then goes across the hill above the quarry and
continues on above the golf course to eventually enter Woodland Park.