Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Wednesday 21 February - a perfect day

The Frandy Burn was low today so we easily stepped across the ice-free rocks at the usual place and headed out of the shadow and into the sun, eventually following our customary route upwards by the Inner Burn. Once on the broad, gently rising ridge leading to Mailer's Knowe a completely unnecessary sign points to Ben Shee. If you need this sign you probably should be walking in a park.

Someone studying their map and planning a trip here could be forgiven for thinking that there is dense tree cover on these slopes but it's mostly relatively new planting by the Woodland Trust which owns this part of the Ochils. The walking is open with unobstructed views, as you can see below.

The open slopes leading to Mailer's Knowe. Click to enlarge all photos
Despite having walked in these hills regulary for a huge chunk of our lives (I first climbed Ben Cleuch when nine) there are still many nooks and crannies that remain unknown to us. Often these are small glens striking only a few kilometres into the hillsides providing alternative, pathless, tussocky ways, rarely, if ever, used to reach the tops; sometimes no doubt they will prove to be nothing more than short diversions from the day's main objective but either way, I'm sure they will be of interest. They may even prove useful material for that rarest of things of late - a post on this blog.

I've a hankering to explore two of these 'unknown' places in the vicinity of today's walk. They are the two small glens whose burns cradle Middle Hill: Middlehill Burn and the unnamed burn below the western slopes of the hill. We have walked, both in ascent and descent, the third burn which meets this unnamed stream and whose source is just a few metres east of point 442m on the long broad ridge which leads from Skythorn Hill to the road near Backhills.

But back to today's walk.

At the boulder on Scad Hill we considered an ascent of Tarmangie Hill but rejected the idea in favour of Skythorn and a circuit back to the car. Seems to me that we often have this debate with the same outcome.

The final slopes to Scad Hill

The boulder with its frozen moat. A favourite place and favourite isolated boulder.

The walk from Scad Hill by Cairnmorris Hill (a mere bump and off picture). Andrew Gannel Hill ahead, Ben Cleuch distant

It was cold so we moved fast to get out of the wind - as you can see from the above photograph  there's no shelter here - but as we approached the stile and then Skythorn Hill (a minor rise in the picture above) things became more benign.

Tarmangie Hill from near the stile. Typical grassy terrain in the Ochils

We spotted two other walkers, a rare event, as we descended from Skythorn but they had vanished down to Backhills by the time we reached the point on the ridge near the source of unnamed burn mentioned earlier. We on the other hand stopped for lunch, enjoyed some Lapsang Souchong and the growing strength of the sun in our faces. But we had a final hill to cross so eventually stirred ourselves, somewhat reluctantly.

Now, Frandy Moss is a bog but a pleasant one if you know the route through it (and we do) so the last unmarked top of the day was quickly reached via the familiar ATV track. The 500m top is an excellent view point.

From near the 500m point looking to the slopes of Middle Hill (centre) and behind, the long broad ridge of Mailer's Knowe etc with Tarmangie peaking over it

A short distance above the track by the Frandy we enjoyed yet more time sitting in the sun finishing off our food before the lovely walk back to the car. Not a particulary long day (about 12km) but it was indeed a perfect one among our friendly hills.

The 1:50 000 map omits the names of many burns in the Ochils including Middlehill Burn. The route shown across Frandy Moss is not precise

Note: I expect I've posted about this walk before, perhaps more than once. Sorry if it's repetitive!


  1. I was wondering about Frandy Moss, so took a squint at the 1:25k maps. The cartographers had some fun drawing those contours. They must have had a shed-load of drink the night before to produce those shaky lines!

    Ben Shee looks a little honey.

    1. Hi Alan. There lots of groughs and raised ridges on the Moss though not of significant height but that might explain the contours. I have seen this before on maps of boggy ground. Until recently I used the 1:50K map and the squiggles are of course less obvious than on the 1:25K map which I've only started to use recently.

      I've climbed Ben Shee three or four times, once in deep purgatorial snow, but have never found it a satisfying little hill. Don't ask me why because I have no idea. It's best done, in my opinion, from Glensherup Reservoir but I don't suppose that really matters to you!

  2. Looks great. I like your use of the 1:50 map giving a much clearer appreciation of the terrain. The omission of field boundaries doesn't matter in this context.

    1. Conrad - it is a quiet lovely area.

      I don't have the 1:25K digital map so can only use the 1:50K on posts anyway but I agree with you that the 1:50 scale is best for blogs since I suspect most people are only interested in the route. The Ochils 1:50K map is very poor at naming burns other than major ones, hence Middlehill Burn and Inner Burn which I mention are unnamed. I don't have the latest version of the 1:50K but I doubt it will be any better.

      We have been marooned for two days during the blizzards but things look to be easing

  3. Nice outing. Reminds me very much of the Cheviots and borders. I find it better to have some points of interest to aim for, like your hidden glens, or some geological features, historical remains etc etc. It’s better than just wandering.

    1. Hi Alan. Ashamed to say that I've never walked in the Cheviots but it does look similar sort of terrain. To be honest I don't mind wandering and taking diversions as and when the mood takes me but I agree, a destination or going to see something that I've spotted on the map does make the day more satisfying usually.