Ben Cleuch from Glendevon
Although Ben Cleuch is usually ascended from its southern side, an ascent from the north is also possible and much quieter than busy routes from the south.
Three possible ascent routes are described here but they can also all be used as descents so that you can mix and match to build your own circular route.
Distances and ascents are given for the outward route only.
For all routes you should be comfortable with navigating off path and be properly equipped for a hill walk.
- Start / finish: foot of Glendevon Reservoirs road at NN 949 052 on the A823 (parking area available)
Route 1 Via Grodwell Hill (red)
An initial approach via the Glendevon Reservoirs road is followed by a mostly off path ascent of the northern shoulder of Ben Cleuch.
- Distance: 9.2 km / 5.7 miles
- Ascent: 550 m / 1800 feet
- Terrain: tarmac road, rough hill path, off path on tussocky grass
The first 4.5 km of the walk uses the tarmac private road to Backhills Farm passing Frandy Farm, the Lower Glendevon Reservoir, Frandy Fishery and finally the Upper Glendevon Reservoir. At the Upper Reservoir, leave the road almost opposite the dam at grid ref NN 913 041, on a path into an open grassy sheep field. The path is quite feint but keep to the higher ground and follow it to a small hillock. From here the path heads towards a gate in the fence which you go through to reach the rougher hillside. There is a feint path for this next section but if visibility is poor you will need navigation skills.
Walk around a gully on wet ground and try to pick up the path again on the opposite side. A solitary fence post is a useful landmark to aim for if you can’t find the path. Continue roughly southwards for a few hundred metres to a point where a more obvious path joins the path that you are on. Leave the path, heading down the hill in a south south west direct aiming for the confluence of the two burns ahead of you.
An alternative route to reach this point with less road walking is over Bald Hill from Frandy. However, there is no particularly easy route. One option being to follow the track from Frandy Farm and then aim up the hillside. Another option is to head up the hill beside the forestry plantation with the trees to your right. Although rough at first, this route does get easier and if you cross a broken wooden gate at the Baldhill Burn, a quad bike track can then be used to reach the summit of Bald Hill.
Whatever way you choose, you need to get to the confluence of the rivers at NN 916 028. Cross the burn above the confluence and then cross the fence immediately in front of you.
Now strike up the grassy hillside in a southerly direction. There’s almost a 1000 feet (300m) of ascent, initially off path, but later eased by the appearance of a grassy path higher up.
Approaching the skyline, either head directly for the Ben Cleuch summit or aim for a spot on the coll between Ben Cleuch and Andrew Gannell Hill to pick up a path which follows a fence line to the summit. To reach the trig point / cairn it is necessary to climb this fence.
Route 2 Via the Glensherup Hills and Andrew Gannel (magenta)
- Distance: 8.7 km / 5.4 miles
- Ascent: 560 m / 1840 feet
- Terrain: tarmac road, grassy hill path
The first 1.2 km of the walk uses the tarmac private road to Backhills Farm as far as Frandy Farm and the Lower Glendevon Reservoir. After crossing the bridge at the outflow of the reservoir follow a path to your left down the bank to the riverside picnic table. There is no bridge across the river so it is necessary to hop across taking care as some bits can be deep.
From the picnic table a path heads south upstream before turning south east to head up hill. Keep right at a sign post aiming up hill through woodland to reach a coll beneath Ben Shee. From the coll you can make a short detour to Ben Shee summit if you desire.
Our route turns right (south-ish) at the coll on a grassy track that follows the skyline across Scad Hill. Make sure you keep right, on the skyline, to reach Cairnmorris Hill, and don’t follow paths left downhill to the head of Glensherrup. After Cairnmorris the grass path continues to Skythorn Hill crossing a deer fence by means of a stile. The path then follows fences across the watershed of the old Blackford to Tillicoultry drove route, to the 670m summit of Andrew Gannel Hill with its rocky prow.
From the summit, follow a path on well trodden ground, alongside a fence for almost 900m to the point where the path from the Law joins from your left. It is now a further 800m alongside the fence to the summit of Ben Cleuch with its trig point, view indicator and rock shelter.
Route 3 Via Burnfoot Windfarm (blue)
- Distance: 9.5 km / 6 miles
- Ascent: 580 m / 1900 feet
- Terrain: tarmac road, gravel track, grassy hill path
The first 5 km is on the private road up to Backhills Farm passing both of the Glendevon Reservoirs. Keep right at the farm on the windfarm track. Keep on the main track following it clockwise round to the south side of the site. Close to a communications mast leave the main track on a short track section to your left leading to a gate. Once beyond the gate you are on the open hillside.
At first there is a rough path but soon this disappears. However, keep on following the fence line and you will rejoin a path that takes you close to Ben Buck summit (if you wish to visit the summit you will need to hop over the fence). From the summit area there is a rough path alongside the fence leading up to the skyline. Cross the fence, turn left and follow the well used path to Ben Cleuch summit.