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Stravaiging by night in the dark heart of the Ochils
by Graeme D » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:33 pm
Donalds included on this walk: Innerdownie, Tarmangie Hill
Date walked: 13/03/2012
Time taken: 4.3 hours
Distance: 15.8 km
Ascent: 718m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
So, with my wife not working today and therefore me not having to rush home after work to relieve my mother-in-law from childcare duties, or to my parents to relieve them from the same duty, I took the opportunity to head to the Ochils and do something about my paltry Donald count!
I made a sharp exit from the Lubyanka building on Oakbank Road in Perth and was parked at the big roadside parking area alongside Castlehill Reservoir by 4.20pm. To me, this area around Glendevon and the Tormaukin Hotel is the real heart of the Ochil Hills.
I was away from the car by 4.30 in the warm glow of the late afternoon springtime sunshine. I chose to head north along the main A823 road and access the hills via the minor road which leads up to the houses at Glenfoot above Glendevon.
My first destination was the 611 metre summit of Innerdownie. Ultimately,I intended to head from there across to Whitewisp Hill and then on to Tarmangie Hill. Then I would have options - either continue to King's Seat Hill and then descend down to Castle Campbell near Dollar and back along the Public Right of Way past Glenquey Reservoir towards Glendevon; descend from Tarmangie into the Glen of Sorrow below the steep flanks of King's Seat Hill and pick up the path at Castle Campbell; or return to Whitewisp Hill and descend south east from there towards the path between Castle Campbell and Glenquey Reservoir.
I had read a couple of reports on other sites about routes around these hills so I knew I was in for a lung bursting ascent up the long, steep, tapering ridge of Innerdownie and that is exactly what I got! Good preparation for the ascent up onto the Five Sisters Ridge????
The reward for the steep haul was the views that opened up to reveal a huge swathe of east central Scotland laid out below me. Various bodies of water sprung into view - Glenquey Reservoir immediately down to my left, Castlehill Reservoir beyond the A823, and Loch Leven surrounded by the Lomond Hills and Benarty Hill away to the east. Northwest up Gleneagles towards the hotel and Crieff, gateway to the Highlands. Across to the Forth Valley, Knockhill and the poisonous flares of Grangemouth. And I was absolutely delighted to see Lendrick Hill standing out proud behind me - that most unassuming little hill that I had once nipped up and down in little over an hour and which I had always thought had no character at all. Tonight it stood out proudly, bathed in sunshine and looking like a very fine little hill indeed.
Not surprisingly for a Tuesday evening, I had the place to myself apart from one fell runner who flew past me in a blur and on a downward trajectory not far from the summit. At about the same time, it suddenly got very chilly and I had to tog up with warm jacket, hat and gloves.
The GPS seemed to be giving me some weird readings in terms of the line it had me on but the altitude readings were spot on with my own readings of the OS map. I took a few shots of the encroaching nightime from the summit before heading for Whitewisp and Tarmangie, but not before spotting a handy looking wee howff just below the summit which afforded total shelter from the stiffening breeze and where I had my dinner of hoisin duck wraps and a chocolate bar!
It always seems to me that at this time of year, somewhere midway between the long dark nights of winter and the long light days of summer, walking into the approaching night is a magical and mystical thing. The transistion from day to night just seems to happen in fast forward right before your eyes. And so it was, as I approached Whitewisp Hill, that day just slipped away and suddenly it was unmistakably night.
I kept the headtorch off at this stage and allowed my eyes to become accustomed to the dark. It was a straightforward tramp over to Tarmangie Hill, with King's Seat Hill looking like a very fine hill across the Glen of Sorrow to my left. However, it also looked like another very steep line of ascent from this side and time was slipping away.
At the summit of Tarmangie Hill, I decided to give King's Seat Hill a miss tonight but did set off in a south westerly direction intending to head down into the Glen Of Sorrow and take the long way home. However, after only a couple of hundred metres, I had a change of heart and decided to take the short option of heading back out over Whitewisp Hill and down to the path from there.
The descent down off Whitewisp Hill was straightforward enough apart from at the very bottom where i encountered the small crags which I had noted on the map but in the dark and in real life they posed a few awkward moments before I found myself safely on the flat and narrow! I tried switching my headtorch off at this stage to see what vision I had but it was as dark as the grave down there in the narrow defile of the Glenquey Burn. It was also at this stage that I realised that I had no spare batteries - just as well the set I had in were still burning strongly and showing no signs of fading fast!
From here it was a long, straightforward, tiring but highly satisfying headtorch yomp on a good path which then became a good track, along the side of the Glenquey Reservoir and onto the tarmac road beyond the houses at the far end which eventually led back out to the car at the side of Castlehill Reservoir.
by Bod » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:46 pm
by laconic surf » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:48 pm
I love the blues and purples that come out in the photos as the light fades, looks like you had great fun
by rockhopper » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:55 am
by pollyh33 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:33 am
I love reports like this. Beautiful photos, cracking narrative and no feeling of impending death whatsoever!!! Cannae be from Kintail then!!!!
See you soon Mr D
by ChrisW » Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:55 am
by SMRussell » Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:05 am
Getting some practice in the dark on little hills is a grand idea. I've tried to get my other half open to the idea of long hikes where some walking in the dark would be involved... don't think he's too keen.
Oh and the property by the river is a restored Victorian shooting lodge that's now being run as self catering accommodation
by RicKamila » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:54 pm
Great report, liked this one a lot
by jonny616 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:30 pm
by Graeme D » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:02 am
by kiltedbiggles » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:01 pm
My Mum is dragging me up Innerdownie this afternoon, your route seems the way to go!!
Will make sure to hi to you in Kintail next weekend
by alfie » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:43 pm
by 2dalmatians » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:32 pm