Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Wednesday 13 November - Pairney, the Heuch of Coul, Ben Effrey and Beld Hill

Parking at Pairney Farm without obstructing gates was not easy and would be well nigh impossible for more than two cars but after trying different spots we were finally happy that we would not incur the wrath of the farmer and off we went up the track towards the farm.

Our destination was Ben Effrey, locally pronounced, Affrey and readers may recall that we paid a visit to this little hill and Craig Rossie in August by a longer route from Dunning Glen. The post can be found here.

Nearly everyone who approaches either Craig Rossie or Effrey from Pairney mentions the free ranging bulls and although neither of us has fear of bulls or cattle, we are cautious since obviously they can do serious harm to say the least. If calves are around, well, that's a different matter altogether and a very wide berth advisable. Today these fine beasts were in the field relaxing.

Beyond the farm buildings we came across lots of farm machinery and various discarded pallets, tyres etc and lying just across the Pairney Burn and dropping into its waters, the crags of The Heuch of Coul. These are much more impressive than the photograph in Angus Watson's, The Ochils, would suggest but I doubt there a climbs here and, similarly, the impressive quarry crag, overhanging in places, looked untouched. Can't imagine that being the case if it were south of the border.

The Heuch of Coul

The steep quarry crag

To my right lies a hill fort

The track soon emerged into more open country giving excellent views to the hills behind Crieff and to the more distant hills around Loch Earn.

Crieff hills 

Beautiful larch trees frame a view to the Loch Earn Hills

Our plan had been to continue to the gorse-covered lower slopes of Beld Hill and go over it to Ben Effrey, but we came across an unmarked ATV track long before that point and couldn't resist since it would take us on a direct line to the summit. In fact the ATV track turned out to be no more than access to some grazings and petered out quickly, but it pointed us in the direction of the remains of a clachan where we paused before starting up the steepish slopes of heather, moss and blaeberry.

Ben Effrey

Looking down on the remains of the clachan 

Craig Rossie
After a few photographs we made for Beld Hill, a favoured place for the local cattle and on our way back to rejoin the outward track. By the time we reached it, the sky had clouded over and we now felt the full chill of the wind so donned our ME jackets for the walk back to the car. However, we couldn't pass the fort without a look and quickly found evidence of excavations which appeared to have taken place not so long ago.

The site of the fort - at the far end of the escarpment below
Nearly back at the farm and blue sky again

Way to the fort - up left by the wall then right

The site is more clearly delineated than the photo shows but the location of the old walls was discernible

One of the recent excavation sites.
By now we were so close to the car that we decided to have our tea and rolls there rather than try to find a sheltered location. We watched cars speed by and wondered if the drivers had ever heard of 'being able to stop on your side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear'. Obviously not.

I have no doubt we will be back here sometime for another ascent of Craig Rossie and a general look around.

I have now uploaded my first post to my new plastic modelling blog and another is due soon.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Monday 5 November - A quick nip up West Lomond Hill

The Fife Lomonds looked a better bet than the Ochils today given gloomy skies at home. The forecast for some sunshine later on we took with a pinch of salt and threw in little bit of hope for good measure.

Craigmead car park, reached by a narrow road from the conservation village of Falkland, was empty bar a car and a Fife Council mini-bus, the driver waiting for the return of a school group we surmised.
Sure enough just as we reached the gate giving access to the open grassy hillside, a small group arrived back from we know not where, one of them stripped to the waist. I had four layers on.

West Lomond Hill was nowhere to be seen though we reckoned, wrongly, that it would show itself eventually.

East Lomond - maybe we chose the wrong hill today

No sign of West Lomond

To the south lie Harperleas Reservoir and Ballo Reservoirs

West Lomond Hill - about as good as it got

Lots of moorland but we have rarely seen much wildlife here

Into the murk - well not too murky really

We had just finished taking some photos at the top and were preparing to leave when a couple with three lovely dogs arrived by a route from the west. They told us of various changes on that side of the hill: fences being erected with no stiles, routes closed because of tree felling, people not looking after the place and so on. It's many years since we used the routes he described from Kinesswood via Bishop Hill or Glen Vale but I recall them as being very worth while alternatives to ours so it's a pity if they are being spoiled.

Various small shelters have been built testifying to the popularity of this hill

As good as it got, so not bad really

We left the summit to the large group of elderly walkers who'd assembled at the cairn and back at the car decided that a stop in Falkland would round off a very enjoyable half day. It's a pretty place and justifiably popular with tourists in summer.

Local preparations for Armistice Day

Falkland Palace

Many a beer I've had in here - but not today