Site hosted by Build your free website today!


The Ochil Hills - in Central Scotland

The Ochils stretch from Dunblane to Milnathort for more than 35 kilometers between the Rivers Forth and Tay. The Ochil's highest hill, Ben Cleuch, is 721 metres high. The settlements of Blairlogie, Menstrie, Alva, Tillicoultry, Dollar and Muckhart lie along what is locally called the 'Hillfoots' on the south side of the Ochils, and there these hills form the northern boundary of Clackmannanshire, which is Scotland's smallest county.
Click on the small picture to see the larger version    
The Ochils (Dumyat) from the top
of the Wallace Monument
Alva - in the Hillfoots
Dollar - in the Hillfoots

The Ochils are pleasant enough to walk over on a sunny day, if you are sensible, but they can be dangerous for the unwary in mist or bad weather and should never be taken lightly. Alva, Tillicoultry and Dollar all have Glens with paths laid out for the casual visitor. The Ochils are sheep country, so it's best to leave the dog at home. Serious walkers should take a compass and map. Ordnance Survey Landranger 58, Perth to Alloa, - ISBN 0-319-22058-3 is the map I've got. There are at least two ancient routes across the Ochils (1) Tillicoultry to Blackford via the Frandy and Glen Bee (an old packhorse route) and also (2) Dollar to Glendevon via Glenquey and on to Auchterarder via the Borland Glen (an old drove road). Climbing Ben Cleuch to see the sunrise on the longest day of the year is a sort of local thing for young and old.

Ochil - 'Uchel or Uxellos' (Brittonic or Celtic) meaning High - Oychellis 1461, Ocelli montes 1580. 'High ones'.

Ben Cleuch - 721 metres - The Ochils highest hill.
The name is perhaps from 'Clach' or 'Clioche'- Stony peak - it has rocks at the top - or cleuch (scots) after the ravine below it - the Daiglen - or from 'cliatach' - a slope
Left - This winter picture of the top of Ben Cleuch was taken a few years ago, before the map pedestal in the picture was removed by the Scouts and renovated by Abercrombies Engineering of Alloa. The renovated map pedestal is shown in the pictures below taken more recently. The picture - on the extreme right in the first row below shows the renovated map pedestal and the rock (to the right of the present map pedestal) with the remnants of the iron rods embedded in it, which were the base of the marker in the picture on the left. The old map pedestal fell over a few times before it was finally splendidly renovated to make it as is now - it carries the original map from the 1930s. The old map points out the amazing number of mountains that can be see from the top of Ben Cleuch (in clear weather naturally).
Dumyat (418m) (pronounced - duh-my-at) -This most Westerly of the Ochil Hills is popular with walkers and runners from nearby Stirling University. Dumyat has two tops. The Western top has a cairn and the remains of a Pictish fort. The Eastern top has a triangulation marker, a memorial to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and a beacon basket. (see You Tube video below) This hill is easily climbed from the Sheriffmuir road and there is also a rather steep path up from Menstrie. The Warlock Glen, the gully between the two tops, provides a way up for the adventurous from the carpark on the A91 at Blairlogie. The river in this picture is the Devon.
The name Dumyat is perhaps from the gaelic 'Dùn Maeatea' meaning 'Fort of the Maeatae' . The Maeatae were a confederation of Pictish tribes who fought the Romans. The Maeatae are mentioned by the Roman writer Dio Cassius in the early third century. There were two confederations of Pictish tribes who fought the Romans - the Maeatae and the Caledonians.The fort on Dumyat would have been a southern outpost of the Maeatae. The Caledonians were further north. The Maeatae and the Caledonians were always Rome's enemies. Archaeologists from Stirling University have investigated the fort on the western top of Dumyat. /OR - the name Dumyat is from 'Dùn-ma-chit' meaning 'fort of good prospect'. Either or both names are feasible. The hill name used to be written as 'Demyat', which is perhaps nearer to the way it is pronounced. It is pronounced locally as Duh-my-at
Videos - Dumyat on You Tube - - leads to more videos of the Ochils!
The statue of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, at the Borestone, at Bannockburn, with Dumyat and the Ochils in the background. The Borestone was where Good King Robert raised his Royal Banner before the Battle of Bannockburn on midsummer's day 1314.
The 'Round of the Ten' is climbing the ten highest Ochils hills in the same day. Starting in Glendevon (Tarmaukin Hotel) the route is by the tops of INNERDOWNIE - WHITEWISP - TARMANGIE - KINGS SEAT - BEN CLEUCH - THE LAW - BEN CLEUCH (again!) - BEN EVER - BEN BUCK - BLAIRDENON - GREENFORET - finish at Sheriffmuir (Sheriffmuir Inn). There is an argument about Ben Buck - some people say that Ben Buck is not a hill in its own right - it's a shoulder of Ben Cleuch, the name is supposed to come from 'buac' meaning the brow of a hill ---- for people who say this - it's the 'round of the nine' - but going by the top of Ben Buck is a convenient part of the route to follow! It needs a long summers day to do this walk - winter days are too short!
The 'Reservoirs Trail' is a path linking woodland with some of the reservoirs in Glendevon. The well signposted path runs from Muckhart to The Frandy. The reservoirs are Glenquey, Glensherup and the Frandy (Upper and Lower Glendevon Reservoirs). There are parking places beside the Castlehill Reservoir (laybye on the A823) and at Glensherup (a picnic area accessed from the A823 - near the GlenDevon Lodges). There is access to the hills at several points on the Reservoirs Trail. The Reservoirs Trail is organised by the Woodland Trust.
Here's a few names of Ochil Hills and heights in metres:- The Law (638m), , Ben Ever (622m), Whitewisp (643m), Innerdownie (611m), Mickle Corum (596m), Colsnaur (558m), Sauchenwood (534m), Ben Shee (515m), Graig Leith (513m), Craigentaggart (491m), Steele's Knowe (485m), Green Law (468m), Ben Thrush (456m), Muckle Law (398m), Myretoun (378m), and Rossie Law (324m).
The left hand picture above shows the path up to the Silver Glen from Alva - it shows Alva, Alva's 9-hole Golf Course, and the bulk of Dumyat sticking out from the end of the Ochils. In the centre distance is the Wallace Monument. The City of Stirling is in the haze on the left horizon with the Campsie Fells behind that. The Middle picture shows the same view from higher up on the track at the entrance to the Silver Glen.The right hand picture shows the view looking back down the track that goes up the Silver Glen with the slope of the Nebbit on the right and the Woodhill on the left on the other side of the burn. The Silver Glen is named for the silver mines that used to be there. Silver from those silver mines was used to found the colony of Nova Scotia in Canada. The track shown goes up the Silver Glen and on to the top of Glen Winnel. This picture also shows rain approaching on the other side of the River Forth.- these 3 pictures were all taken on different days
Andragannel in shadow with King's Seat in the sunlight
Blairdennon, with Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Croin in the distance. Ben Ledi is on the extreme left horizon.
The Daiglen and the start of the steep path that goes from Tillicoultry Glen up the Law then on to the top of Ben Cleuch
Andragannel is a hill which overlooks the Gannel Burn - from the Gaelic 'An Sruth Gainmheil' - the sandy bottomed burn -(Tillicoultry Glen) /OR the Gannel Burn and Andragannel might be named after a man who lost his life thereabouts about 1860, but many people dispute this.. I remember when this hill was not marked on the OS map. We called it Andragannel then. Nowadays it is marked on the OS map as Andrew Gannel Hill.
Blairdenon - The first part of this hill name comes from the gaelic word 'Blàr', which can mean a flat place, a field, or a battle site. It has a fairly flat top, which is very easily missed when it's misty. I don't know what 'denon' means.
- 'Daimh Ghlean' - glen of the stag /or buck
King's Seat's comes perhaps from 'cean' meaning head and 'suidhe' meaning seat. I was always told that it was from this hill (above Dollar) that King Malcolm Canmore (Canmore means 'big head') watched the hunt going on
Rob Roy MacGregor and his men are said to have stood on an Ochils Hill and watched the 13th November 1715 Battle of Sheriffmuir. It was probably from Greenforet near Blairdennon. Rob Roy didn't take part in the battle because he couldn't decide who was going to win!
Rob Roy he stood to watch
On a hill, for to catch
The booty, for aught that I saw man;
For he ne'er advance
From the place he was stanced,
Till nae mair was there to do at a' man.
Ben Gengie - 'Beinn-an-Teanga' - 'Hill of the tongue' - it looks a bit like a vertical tongue in this picture taken from the Alva Glen side
This is the Wolf Stane. It's about four feet high. I was once told that it was where the last wolf in the Ochils was killed. It's on the other side of the Alva Moss on the way up Blairdennon from the top of Glen Winnel. I have always thought that it was a stone put there to show the way across the Alva Moss. It's not marked on any maps. I was recently told that it's an erratic - dropped there by a glacier. If it is, it's the only one there.
This is the 'The Aeroplane'. It's marked on some OS maps. Its all that's left (2005) of an aeroplane that crashed there, on the far side of Blairdennon, in the 1950s. The student pilot - I think his name was Fullerton, died in the crash. There used to be a wooden cross and a brass plate but they have long gone. I saw, a few years ago, that someone had left flowers there. It's a lonely place. Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Croin can be seen in the background.
Tarmangie - hill of the goat
The Nebbit - A bonnie wee Alp
The Wood Hill
Tarmangie - from torr - mang - - hill of the fawn or goat
The Nebit - Scots - 'Nebit' - nosed, beaked - this hill is called 'Middle Hill' by some people
I was told, years ago, that the trees on the upper parts of the Wood Hill
(Scots Pine) were planted sometime in the 1700s by Sir John Erskine of Alva, but there may have been trees there before that.
Above are pictures of the Wallace Stone on Sheriffmuir. This stone is said to have been a meeting place for William Wallace and his followers. It is the only stone left standing of a line of five or six standing stones which form an alignment with the escarpment of the Campsie Fells (two right hand pictures). These stones had already been there for hundreds of years when William Wallace was around. One of the fallen stones has cup and ring marks on it. The two right hand pictures also show the Sheriffmuir Inn - on the right. You can see this stone when you're having a beer in the inn, if you know where to look. On Sheriffmuir there is also the Boat Stone and a stone circle of very small stones which I couldn't find the last time I looked. I saw it once.

In a field by the A823; Crief - Dunfermline road just after it crosses the A9 heading for Dunfermline - on the right - entering the Ochils Glen called Gleneagles, is a standing stone with an indistinct Pictish symbol on it. - pictures - - the carving is of a goose with a rectangle below it. There is another stone nearby in another field in the direction of Stirling, but it has no carvings.

The picture on the left is taken from the site and I've 'improved' it a bit.

Hidden away on Sheriffmuir is the Gathering Stone. Its covered in the carved initials of the Highlanders who gathered there before the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715. It's protected by iron bars. Its probably the remnant of a much larger stone which has fallen over and became broken in the boggy ground. There are what look like mass graves near this stone. The wreaths and flowers have been left there by members of the White Cockade Society. The White Cockade was the badge of the Jacobite soldiers who supported Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. It's said to have become their badge when Bonnie Prince Charlie picked a wild white rose and stuck it in his hat.
Pictures below show Tillicoultry Glen - showing some of the paths in Tilly Glen

2008 - These are windmills on the Green Knowes in Glendevon . They only started turning in 2008. There are twenty of them - 1024x768 pixels. There are more of these behind Ben Cleuch


Wildlife that I've seen in the Ochils includes Herons, Foxes, Roe Deer, Rabbits, Hares (White in winter), Grey Squirrels, Voles, Weasels, Peewits, Blackbirds, Swallows, Crows, Magpies, Kestrels, Owls and Green Lizards. I don't know the names of all the small birds. There are Cuckoos in the Ochils, on the Wood Hill and in Glen Quey definitely, but I've never seen one, only heard them. I saw Mink in Glendevon near the Tarmaukin Hotel beside the Castlehill Reserviour and a farmer in Dunning Glen told me that it was Mink that had cleared out his duck pond. There are Sheep and Cattle as well, but they aren't wildlife. I've even met the man who is paid to shoot the Roe Deer by the Woodland Trust people in Glenquey. He told me that he sells the meat. Years ago there used to be a man whose job it was to poison (or gas?) the foxes around the Ben Cleuch area, but I don't know if anybody does that nowadays. There are trout in the Ochils reserviours and burns. Some of the reserviours are stocked with trout. Insects aren't usually a problem in the Ochils, except around Menstrie Glen and Dumyat, where Clegs (Horse Flies) are a nuisance in summer. At other places in Scotland, I've seen Red Squirrels, Eagles, Buzzards and Ospreys. I've seen the feral goats on Ben Lomond. Once I saw a Pine Martin in Faskally Wood near Pitlochry and in Ardamurchan I saw, what I was told, was a wildcat.. I've also seen the bigger deer, Fallow Deer, I think there called, herds of them, in other places - not in the Ochils..
On Tuesday, May 26, 2009 in Glen Quey, on the track beside the reserviour there, I saw a green lizard. It was lying on a stone not moving. Only its eyes moved. It was about five inches long. It was a lizard. It had four legs, a tail, and a head. It was a lizard. It was green. I stood watching it for five minutes or so. Only its eyes moved. It wasn't a very warm day, but it wasn't a cold day. I carefully walked around the lizard and left it there. I didn't see it move. It's only the second time I've seen a lizard in the Ochils. The previous time was years ago, on Blairdennon, on a really hot summers day. One of my companions saw it first, but it was moving fast and I only got a glimpse, but the one I saw on May 26, 2009 wasn't moving. Only its eyes moved. Maybe it was trying to warm up in the sun.
For more information, see this site -
From the Daily Mail - Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Hillside memorial to Canadian pilots after 66 years
Two Canadian pilots killed when their Spitfires crashed in Scotland 66 years ago have finally been commerated.
Flying Officer Hugh 'Bud' Reynolds and Sergeant Gordon Dude, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, died instantly when their planes hit King'g Seat Hill in the Ochils in Clackmannanshire, on January 16, 1943.
The men, both 21, were on a flying exercise when they and a third Spitfire were diverted due to bad weather. Lost in thick mist, all three aircraft struck the hillside. The third pilot - Sergeant Vincent Daly from Australia - survived.
Now a cairn has been built as a lasting tribute on the site, unveiled during a ceremony of dedication, marked by a fly past of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and a Lancaster bomber. Major Brian Imrie, of the Army Air Corps, was the driving force behind the memorial.
He said yesterday: 'We owe these men a debt of remembrance.