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A pleasant stroll in the Ochils

A pleasant stroll in the Ochils

Postby GeorgiePorgie » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:33 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Steele's Knowe

Date walked: 14/03/2016

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 21 km

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A last minute decision this morning to get out on the local hills for a change. The day had turned out sunny with not a cloud in the sky, so I wasted no time in getting away. Rather a late start at 10am saw me walking from my house on the east side of Auchterarder along the minor road heading into the town. For once, no car drive was taken to get to the start of a walk and what a change this made to just get out in the glorious warm conditions.

My plan today was to walk up into the Ochils overlooking the town of Auchterarder, passing the small and hideous wind turbine site then head for the Marilyn of Steele's Knowe. From here I would walk westwards towards the other prominent top, Eastbow Hill, then make my way down hill to the Duchally/Gleneagles road before heading home via Auchterarder, a nice circular trip of 13 miles/21 km.

The first stage saw me walking parallel with the busy and noisy A9 but this was short-lived as I now headed south passing what was once Auchterarder Railway Station, now a private residence. What an impressive place this must have been in its heyday as a busy railway station. Passing under the main railway line soon after, I was rewarded with some great views of green fields with the prominent bulk of Craigrossie and Ben Effrey to the east looking over the patchwork of prime agricultural land.
View of Craig Rossie & Ben Effrey from near start

A junction was soon approached and it was here I turned left towards the gothic-looking Cloan House, seen on the hill ahead. Crossing a small humped-back bridge, a pleasant burn appeared on my right hand side before reaching the entrance gates to Cloan House. I now had a choice here; I could continue along the minor road skirting to the left of the estate house then steeply climb up through the estate to its termination at Coulshill Farm or go to the right of the gate to follow a virtually parallel path to the same ending. I chose the latter option and it didn't disappoint. Lovely clusters of snowdrop flowers appeared at the estate entrance, a good sign that Spring is now on its way.
Looking towards the Gothic-looking Cloan House

Snowdrops at the entrance to Cloan Estate

The good footpath took me instantly into a pleasant mixed woodland with the burn mentioned earlier also for company. What a lovely place to enjoy the multitude of birds singing as well as to view the different types of trees in all sorts of maturity. A small reservoir was soon reached and a short rest was taken here to enjoy the peacefulness of the place.
Lovely quiet place by reservoir

Carrying on now, I soon had to cross the burn not just once but twice within a short distance at natural fords. Again, you have the choice whether to wade through the shallow water or to take a quaint path with small bridges to keep your feet dry. I again chose the latter.
The burn that had to be crossed

The path and bridge avoiding the ford

The path now widens out to a track and it now starts to climb away from the river finally emerging with the minor road previously mentioned. a short walk on tarmac takes you to the end of the road at Coulshill Farm, a pleasant spot to take a well-earned break. There is a pleasant bridge here which gives you good views of the Coull Burn below.
First sight of the wind turbines as I emerged onto open country

Lovely countryside near Coulshill Farm

Looking back towards Coulshill Farm on Right of Way to Glendevon

The way ahead is now a track, a Scottish Right of Way (RoW), taking you across the open hillside to Glendevon where there is a Youth Hostel and a plethora of walks taking you further into the Ochils. I would be following this RoW, climbing up to the highest point between two hills before climbing the short distance to the wind turbine site.
I have bad memories of this RoW from previous walks, particularly before it starts to climb as being extremely muddy, but surprisingly on this visit it was reasonably easy going. the path is fairly straight forward and well marked. Just after a patch of forest, the path starts to climb up the slopes to the highest point. One consolation in the steady plod is the views to the lower foothills towards Dunning and the now tiny mark of Coulshill Farm. It is at this point you start to get sight of the mighty wind turbines, some spinning and others not.
The dreaded wind turbines getting nearer

Views to the north getting better

The pull up to the highest point at around 430m gets the heart pumping but is not difficult - plenty of brief stops to admire the ever-increasing views.
The highest point is soon reached at a gate with a fence on both sides. Good views can be seen here as the track now descends to the Glendevon glen below. This is where I now left the track to turn right and ascend the short, sharp climb to the summit top of the wind turbine site.
The blot on the landscape

The wind turbine site

Looking south towards the higher hills of the Ochils

On reaching the plateau where the eighteen wind turbines were located, an easy walk ensued passing one turbine after another. Disappointingly, very few turbines were actually turning and the ones that were omitted strange creaking, groaning and clunking noises - not what you wanted to hear from energy-efficient devices. I never have been a fan (excuse the pun!) of these wind turbines but to others they are a sign of iconic beauty.
Steele's Knowe summit trig

Thankfully now passed this area devoid of all bird and wildlife, I now walked the short distance to Steele's Knowe, marked by a trig point (485m, 1591 feet, a Marilyn) where strangely I began to hear the birds singing again. Although not a significant and prominent summit, the views from here were excellent looking north towards the fertile Strathearn Valley and the vast array of summits stretching beyond with the likes of Ben Lomond, Ben Venue, Ben Ledi in the Trossachs, Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) and Stuc a' Chroin, Ben Chonzie and Achnafree Hill in Glen Almond.
Good views of higher hills to the north

Looking west towards Eastbow Hill from Steele's Knowe

Remnants of snow

Wishing to stay here for much longer, it sadly was time to move onto the next summit of Eastbow Hill, some 2km west of where I now stood. This involved very little descending and re-ascending and simply meant following a fence line and stone dyke along to its summit where there was another trig point at 476m, 1561 feet. Again the views similar to the last summit were impressive.
From here, I was in two minds to descend directly down the broad shoulder to the Duchally road near Gleneagles but decided to retrace my footsteps back along the fence line towards Steele's Knowe but dropped down the gentle and grassy slopes of Carlownie Hill to the large forestry plantation called Corn Hill. Good views back to Eastbow Hill were observed from here.
Eastbow Hill summit trig

Eastbow Hill from descent near forest

Finding a prominent firebreak, I followed a good track through the wood startling two roe deer who didn't hesitate in disappearing. I soon emerged into the open with a patchwork of fertile fields ahead of me. The track now took me through a farm then shortly onto the minor Duchally road. All that remained now was for me to walk eastwards towards Auchterarder.
The Johnny Mathies bridleway taking you to the town of Auchterarder

Bridleway crossing the main railway bridge

Just before completing the circular walk and opposite a lovely white bungalow, a signpost indicated an alternative (and shorter) local path to the town. Called the 'Johnny Mathies' path, I had no idea who it was named after although I did think of the famous American singer of 'When a Child is Born' fame. This pleasant path, containing large tracts of muddy patches with very little work around, skirted along the edge of a lovely wood before heading across the railway track, then descending to near the town. On reaching the busy A9 trunk route now, it is now a short walk left, going through the underpass to the centre of the town where there are plenty of cafes/eating establishments to round off a good day's walking. I, on the other hand turned right which took me back onto the road running parallel with the busy A9 to finally end up back at my house for a welcoming cold beer.
Looking back to Steele's Knowe from near home

A good day's walk of 21km which made a change from the higher and majestic hills that I normally venture on to. Although not tough hills by any stretch of the imagination, the Ochils do have a beauty unique to themselves. The best highlight of today was the outstanding views from both summits which just proves you don't have to climb a Munro to get great views. This is an ideal circular walk using Auchterarder as your start and finish point.
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Location: Auchterarder

Re: A pleasant stroll in the Ochils

Postby alexhaddow » Sun Dec 06, 2020 12:22 am

Walked this route at the start of December 2020. A terrific walk with fantastic views and the start of the winter snow on the higher ground. Thanks for the info and suggested route.
Mountain Walker
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 5, 2020

Re: A pleasant stroll in the Ochils

Postby freepaddy » Mon Jan 09, 2023 10:58 am

A lovely route. Worth noting that the descent to the fire break path (where I also saw two roe deer coincidentally) now has barbed wire fencing blocking the way due to a tree plantation.
Hill Bagger
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 5, 2015

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