Set off from Castlehill Reservoir car park at around 9 on a cloudy morning but with sun forecast for later. All set for a quiet tranquil walk for my first 2 Donalds in the Ochils. Went round the Glenquey House road and then across the front of Glenquey Dam. About 30m beyond the dam I saw the usual view, a wide fairly flat grassy path invitingly heading alongside the water and a narrower path off at right angles to all the contour lines.
Of course that’s the one that led to Innerdownie. Every time I paused on the way up, and I lost count of how often that was, my main thought was “ I’m glad I’m not the poor soul who has to come up here with a strimmer”. The sun was indeed breaking out and I got to the cairn of Innerdownie just before 11 to enjoy the solitude and the views back down to the reservoir. The only casualty on the way was a small shrew that had sadly expired in the middle of the track, not apparently a victim of the strimmer.
Tarmangie was the next step and it looked further away than I felt it should, but it was a much easier walk across the hills via Bentie Knowe to reach the short climb to the top.
Again, peace and quiet, not a living soul in sight. Visibility wasn’t perfect but I could just make out North Berwick Law on the horizon, though impossible to make out if the fibreglass whale’s jawbone was still there, must remember to take my glasses next time. Halfway through lunch another walker arrived, carrying a metal flagpole with an attached electronic gadget, announcing that peace and quiet was shortly to be invaded by 66 hill runners. Sure enough within 10 minutes a trail of hardy souls could be seen, competitors in the Ochil 2000s hill race, http://www.ochilhillrunners.org.uk/static.aspx?id=o2000R see https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottishhillrunners/albums/72157672061954421 for proper photos of the runners when at Dumyat.
I had been reasonably impressed by my time of 3h from Castlehill to Tarmangie so it was a touch depressing to be told that this lot were expecting to cross the Ochils from Glen Sherup to Dumyat and Stirling Uni in 3-4hrs!! After the first few had passed I started my return journey, via Whitewisp, and so had a continual stream of Hello, G’Day, Nice Day, a nod of the head, a vague wave of the arm etc. etc. I should have taken a thesaurus with me to help come up with a bit of variation, or maybe I should have tried a few different languages.
The sheer fact that they could talk was notable, and I would swear they were going up faster than I was going down. The other walkers, a pair of lads from Edinburgh and the classic one man and his dog (a spaniel and well-behaved) seemed equally bemused and impressed by the energy that the competitors were putting out. Eventually, just before Whitewisp summit the last of them disappeared behind me leaving just the silence of the hills.
I headed up to Innerdownie again before the much quicker descent to Castlehill Reservoir. Having ice cubes in the thermos flask in the car had never seemed such a great idea as it was today.
Much credit to the runners and their impressive cardiovascular systems!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.