Ochil Ramblings - the wet edition
by Jaxter » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:28 am
Grahams included on this walk: Ben Cleuch
Donalds included on this walk: Ben Cleuch, Blairdenon Hill
Date walked: 12/03/2017
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 1266mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I opted for a late start as the weather was forecast to be wet and claggy until 2pm. And I had a package to collect I arrived at Alva glen at 12, couldn’t fit in the car park so found a spot just off the road. Boots on and I was off. I crossed the bridge, followed the maze of paths upwards and soon came out on the hillside.
I found a huge pipe
Nice views so far…
The path came out on a track (which eventually leads up to Ben Ever) and I followed it around a few zig zags before taking a left turn along another track, keeping high above the Alva Glen. Here it started raining and it was time for Goretex.
Further on I encountered a big landslip
and shortly after met a group of people heading down. It was raining heavily by this point and whichever direction I faced it seemed to be blowing in my face
My plan had been to follow the track round and follow the West Cameron Burn up (Weaselmaster's route) but I saw a path heading up “The Cloves” and decided to make it harder as I was in no hurry I wandered up there, pretty boggy underfoot and I squelched along. I followed the path over the top. I could take a lengthy (but more level) route around the tops or drop down and up again.
Never one to shy away from a bit of ascent, I dropped steeply down to Birken Glen and back up the other side. I was very briefly out of the clag but straight back into it as I headed up the other side towards Blairdenon Hill. I came to a T junction and turned left heading easily (but boggily) up to the first summit marked by a few stones and then along to the true summit. Not sure where the summit actually is so I visited all options but took the picture by the most interesting feature (as there were nae views!)
Blairdenon Hill summit (ish)
I squidged my way back along and decided to head along in the other direction. As I dropped down there was a brief clag-clearance so I could see some windfarms!
And Bengengie Hill
Back the way I’d come
The path continued over lumps and bumps towards Alva Moss, which it decided to skirt around. Eventually I got bored and decided that some bog and peat hag hopping might be fun… It wasn’t that bad actually (although perhaps yesterday’s Culter Fell bog has numbed me to all other bogs ) and this view reminded me of Assynt – not for the bogginess but the sticking-up-from-flat-ness
The ridge to Ben Ever
Out the other side of the bogimus maximus I met up with the path again and the top of the track from Alva. From here I followed a muddy path up to the top of Ben Buck. Nae views again…a quick map check showed I was nearly at Ben Cleuch so figured I may as well mosey on up there. I'd been before but that was no reason not to visit again! Fenceposts leading the way, I sheltered behind the trig point.
Still nae views and it started raining heavily. Still, time for a sandwich before deciding what to do next – I had thought to head down over The Law and through Mill Glen (last time I’d been up here a year ago it had been closed) then walk back to Alva. However, as I approached the turnoff, the cloud cleared! The sun was out and everything was clear
Windfarms in the sun
Back to Ben Cleuch
I could see Andrew Gannel Hill ahead and it was clear… deciding it would be nice to stand on top of something and get a view, I headed over. Squishy underfoot but it had suddenly turned into a gorgeous afternoon!
Previous conquests, Tarmangie Hill & Innerdownie
Long way home!
Cleuch and Ever
Fun with shadows
Heading back up
I had considered staying up for the sunset but remembered I had a long way back to my car… I took my time heading back and then turned down the path towards The Law.
Another cairn, so may as well jump over a fence to stand on it
Back to Ben Cleuch
Andrew Gannel Hill
Continuing down, it became very steep and I was trying to be careful but was also enjoying the lovely views in all directions!
Andrew Gannel again
Mill Glen ahead
A big boulder!
Sun dropping behind Ben Ever
The steep descent continued and narrowed towards the end. There were steep drops on either side and I felt more like I was in Torridon for a moment, especially when I had to scramble down a big rocky wall!! From here, it looked a bit Swiss Family Robinson – lots of bridges and steps and wee paths through the glen.
You could see that a lot of netting and supports had been put on the rocks – can only assume the erosion that had caused Mill Glen to be closed last year had also caused rockfalls
A sunset behind a quarry
Fortunately I made it through unscathed, and made it safely to Tillicoultry. Which would have been great it my car wasn’t 3 miles away in Alva….
I vaguely remembered the route I had taken at the start last time (starting from Tilly) and with the help of the map, a bit of blind luck and following my nose, I made it across some fields and picked up a path in the right direction. It was getting quite dim by now, the sun was setting and the sky was making nice colours.
The sheep didn’t know what to think
Reaching a playpark there were 2 signs for Alva – an upland and a lowland path. Upland sounded more interesting, so off I went. Big mistake – it was steep uphill I was getting pretty tired by now and plodded on, coming out on the Ben Ever track and then retracing my steps down.
It was interesting to watch “life” happening below – the lights in people’s houses, traffic lights turning from red through to green, the flashing blue lights of emergency vehicles too far away to hear and the birds tweeting in the dusk (lack of) light. I guess normally you come off hills further away from civilisation
Back at Alva Glen, I managed to pick my way through the dark paths and back to my car. 6.45….almost needed my head torch!!
There was a lovely full moon which I failed to photograph well, but at least it was only a 45 minute drive home
by Graeme D » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:16 am
by Graeme D » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:18 am
by Mal Grey » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:02 pm
by Jaxter » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:26 am
Graeme D wrote:Blairdenon was also one of the wettest hills I have ever done! Somehow it seems suited to these kinds of conditions.
Yes it does doesn't it! Wet hill for a wet day
Mal Grey wrote:I like the look of the "gorge bit" on Mill Glen. Nice day out, never been to the Ochils.
It was great fun! Glad I didn't stay up for sunset though, would've been tricky and creepy as anything in the dark
by donalmc » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:36 am
by Dave Hewitt » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:38 am
Re Blairdenon, people on here seem to be taking interesting and unusual (and wet) routes up this. That Birken Glen section after the Cloves spur is quite a sharp little down/up. The more standard - and much drier - route from Alva is to simply go along the Torry-Mid Cairn-Bengengie ridge after an initial steep pull on to Torry (usually either via the race route or the grassy gully on the eastern side). That then gives really good going all the way apart from a short squelchy bit across Menstrie Moss just beyond Bengengie. The Cloves spur is a more natural approach to Craighorn, which is a pleasant summit in its own right.
Re the latter section, Cleuch-AGH-Law, it looks like you missed the shorter and drier path (well, shepherd's ATV track) on the north side of the fence. This is known locally as "the short cut" and straightens out the line quite nicely - it's a couple of minutes faster if walking between Cleuch and AGH, and a good bit less squelchy. There's also a similar direct path angling round to the Law from the Whum Hill bump west of AGH.
It's nice to see the lights coming on down below, as you say - the Ochils are good for that. Going up there at night (ideally with firm snow and a moon) is a treat.
Oh, and the "huge pipe" in the first picture is actually a secret supergun maintained by local activists and pointed towards Holyrood.
- Dave Hewitt
- Posts: 502
- Joined: Apr 29, 2010
by Jaxter » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:58 pm
donalmc wrote:I was one of the people you passed on track was wondering why late start ,rest of our group returned Craig leith way our fault car park full 19 of us .
Ahh yeah you all looked a wee bit wet hope yous had a good day anyway
Dave Hewitt wrote:Re Blairdenon, people on here seem to be taking interesting and unusual (and wet) routes up this. That Birken Glen section after the Cloves spur is quite a sharp little down/up.
Yeah it was kind of deliberately difficult boring if it's too easy
Dave Hewitt wrote:Oh, and the "huge pipe" in the first picture is actually a secret supergun maintained by local activists and pointed towards Holyrood.
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