Gartmorn Dam and Surrounds

Gartmorn Dam lies between Alloa and Coalsnaughton in rural Clackmannanshire. The area has a rich industrial past but today it is a haven for nature and wildlife. A walk around the loch from the parking area is very popular but other routes are also possible. The two routes described both start from Coalsnaughton and take in the woodland to the north of the loch. The slightly shorter route is mostly on surfaced paths and tracks although it does include a few steps, whilst the longer route makes use of grassy (and possibly muddy) unsurfaced woodland paths. To help you explore the area you can download a map and information booklet from Clackmannanshire Council.

  • Start/finish: Coalsnaughton (the visitor centre also makes a good start point)

Shorter route

  • Distance: 4.3 miles / 7 km
  • Ascent: 325 feet / 100 m
  • Terrain: Paths and tracks

Longer route

  • Distance: 5 miles / 8 km
  • Ascent: 410 feet / 125 m
  • Terrain: Paths (unsurfaced maybe muddy) and tracks

Route Map

Gartmorn Dam route map
Red: longer route including North and South Ridge walks; Blue: shorter round the loch walk.

Both Routes

Start from the small village of Coalsnaughton where there is ample on street parking. Commence by walking down James Place (off the main road) where there is a sign indicating that this is a walking route to Gartmorn Dam. The route starts off as a rough farm track as far as Longriggs Farm. At the farm keep left passing through a gate onto a path. You will pass from open countryside into woodland.

When you reach a T junction at an electricity pole go right and then go right again at a green arrow. You will now be in birch woodland walking parallel to the electricity line. Enjoy the walk through the trees until you reach a T junction at a farm track leading to the Gartmorn Farm free range poultry farm. Go right on to the farm track and then almost immediately left through a gate at a green arrow marker. Go left at the Y junction in front of you downhill through the woodland passing a CCPN (Clackmannanshire Council Path Network?) marker post.

When you exit the woods you will be at a crossroads where you want to go straight on, on to a farm track. The track leads through a gate into a field but you want to keep left at this point on what now becomes a path. Soon you will reach the lochside circuit path.

Shorter route

Turn right on to the well made lochside path and follow it to the first car park.

Longer route

Go through the gate on your righthand side into the newly (2012) planted woodland. Use the grassy path to walk through the woodland keeping left at junctions to reach the lochside path at the car park.

Both routes

Walk through the car park and round to the ex visitor centre building and second car park. This is a popular spot for feeding the swans and ducks. Follow the path across the dam taking the time to look behind you for fantastic views of the Ochil Hills. After the dam you will reach Gartmorn House where there is a sunken garden and a barbeque facility.

When you reach a Y junction you have the choice of taking the left hand path for the high route (which includes steps) to a viewpoint or keeping right for the flat low route. Both routes soon converge at the loch shore where there is a wooden seat.

Shorter route

Keep to the lochside path enjoying views across the loch to the Ochils whenever there are gaps in the trees.

Longer route

Soon after the wooden bench look out for a grass / dirt path heading into the woodlands on your right. Follow this path uphill through the woods until you reach an old picnic table on open grass land. Now follow the grass path across the open hillside with the fence to your right. Pass through a metal gate still following the path which starts to become a bit rutted due to having been used by horses. The woodland on your left is used for grazing horses and you may see them in amongst the trees.

When you reach the farm buildings go left before the gate at a marker post. Pass through another metal gate and start going downhill. Cross a small burn on a wee bridge with stone parapets. At this point you could go straight on downhill to join the lochside path but for more views go right across another stone bridge and up a grassy slope. There are good views of the loch and hills from this grass path. After passing a stained glass art installation keep straight on following the power lines at a junction of grassy paths. The path will soon bring you back down to the lochside path at a wooden bridge.

Both routes

Cross the wooden bridge over the lade and walk up to the house at Sherrifyards. The path that you you pass on your right hand side leads to Forest Mill. After passing the house you will be on a gravel road for a while. The lochside path goes left at an electricity pole and is marked with a small sign. Once on to this path you will pass the remains of the Sherrifyards Colliery on your left.

Soon you will reach an obvious path on your right with a green Forestry Commission  sign. Turn on to this uphill path which will take you up a few steps. You will now be back in the woodlands where you started your walk. When you reach a junction turn right and then immediately keep straight following your outward route back to Longriggs Farm and Coalsnaughton.