Ben Cleuch from Tillicoultry
At 721m Ben Cleuch is the highest point in the rounded Ochil Hills. It’s most commonly ascended from the south where the approach routes are through deep glens and up steep slopes. It’s northern side is more open and gentle, however, distances are longer and the terrain a bit rougher.
The routes described on this page all start from Tillicoultry. They are all described as ascents but can easily be used for descents. Mix and match to create your own circular walk. A path through the Ochil Hills Woodland Park provides an easy means of linking these routes with Alva ascent routes. The amount of descent on a route is the amount of ascent in the reverse direction (i.e. when using for descent).
Before embarking on any of these routes you should ensure that you are properly equipped for hill walking including map and compass. If the cloud is low on the hills, navigation skills may be required especially on the lesser used routes.
- Start point: Small parking area at the upper bridge on Upper Mill Street in Tillicoultry, FK13 6AX.
Route 1 Via The Law
The shortest and most popular route up Ben Cleuch. However, it is also one of the steepest!
- Distance: 3.8 km / 2.4 miles
- Ascent: 700 m / 2300 feet
- Descent: 20 m / 65 feet
- Terrain: Steep grassy hill path, awkward rock slab
Follow the Tillicoultry Glen (Mill Glen) path starting at the bridge on the east side of the burn. The Glen is a steep sided gorge with tumbling waterfalls and cascades and makes a excellent start to the walk. The path will criss cross the burn on bridges a number of times. After the 5th crossing at an obvious path junction, keep to the right hand path going up some steps to a view point. Continue along the path until you reach the confluence of the Daiglen Burn and Gannel Burn at the 7th bridge.
An alternative means of reaching this point is via the upper path through the Mill Glen which initially follows the same start as the Drove route. However, the Mill Glen path branches off left to contour around the hillside above the glen before dropping down to the confluence. If the lower path is inaccessible due to landslips (which happens from time to time) it will be necessary to use this alternative.
At this point you need to leave the Mill Glen path with its wooden steps and go down some steep rocky steps to reach the bridge over the Gannel Burn. Cross the burn and negotiate a rocky slab to gain the path up the Law. It’s not difficult but watch your footing and use your hands if necessary.
The well trodden path now ascends the bracken clad southern shoulder of the Law and is unrelentingly steep. There is no respite until you reach the summit at 638m! Once past the summit there is a small descent and a more gentle reascent as you continue northwards for 700m.
Keep left at the path junction and follow the fence line north west for 800m over the grassy hillside to reach Ben Cleuch’s summit with its trig point, view indicator and rock shelter.
Route 2 Via the Mill Glen and Ben Ever
An asthetically pleasing route up Ben Cleuch with views into the wooded valley of Wood Hill
- Distance: 5.5 km / 3.4 miles
- Ascent: 790 m / 2600 feet
- Descent: 100 m / 340 feet
- Terrain: Grassy hill paths
Follow the Tillicoultry Glen (Mill Glen) path starting at the bridge on the east side of the burn. The Glen is a steep sided gorge with tumbling waterfalls and cascades and makes a excellent start to the walk. The path will criss cross the burn on bridges a number of times. After the 5th crossing you reach an obvious path junction on the west side of the burn, take the left hand option up the slope and through a gate.
An alternative route to reach this point uses the Mill Glen east path on the hillside above the glen. Occasionally landslips make the lower paths inaccessible and this route will need to be used. From the top of Upper Mill Street, follow the track to the right (signed as a public path) turning left up stone steps. Follow the path steeply up the hill keeping left at junctions (so that you are on The Law path not the Blackford path). The path descends towards the confluence of the Daiglen and Gannel Burns where you need to keep left, turn back on yourself and go down into the glen to reach a bridge. Cross the burn and follow the path south to reach the point described above (don’t recross to the east side of the burn).
Beyond the gate a grassy path takes you out on to the open hillside southwards towards the quarry. You can either follow this path to the edge of the quarry (fenced off) or use one of the short cut paths that have formed on the hillside. Whichever way you go you will join a wider grass track where you need to turn right at a cairn. This track now takes you up on to the slopes of Wood Hill where it turns in a north westerly direction still gaining height. The path will meet a fence that needs to be crossed using a broken stile so that you are on the west side of the fence.
From here continue north west past a small rocky outcrop towards Ben Ever ahead of you. Don’t forget to keep looking back for views over the Forth Valley though. Before reaching Ben Ever a path goes left down into the Silver Glen above Alva. You now have the option of either going over the 622m summit of Ben Ever or round it to the east. Both routes converge at a gate on the north side of the hill. A short uphill slog on to the shoulder of Ben Cleuch following a fence line now follows. The path bears right away from the fence to short cut the corner before reaching the summit with its trig point, view indicator and rock shelter.
Route 3 Via the old drove road and Andrew Gannel Hill
A less steep route (once the initial ascent is over) up Ben Cleuch following the old drove road right of way across the Ochils between Blackford and Tillicoultry.
- Distance: 6.4 km / 4 miles
- Ascent: 740 m / 2425 feet
- Descent: 50 m / 175 feet
- Terrain: Grassy hill paths
The start of the path is accessed from the track signposted for Dollar which is also signed for Blackford. A short distance along the track two paths lead off to the left. Take the second of these paths, the one with the steps, up into the woods. Follow this path up the hill through a pedestrian gate and out onto the open hillside. The ascent is initially on a steep zig zag path up the hillside above Tillicoultry (Mill) Glen. There is a network of paths on this section of the hill, including ones that have formed where the zig-zags have been short cutted. Ensure you keep to the right when the path splits so that you go up the hill. If you find yourself walking around the hillside towards the Mill Glen rather than up the hill, retrace your steps back to the last junction.
The path gains height above the Gannel Burn, across which you will see the steep slopes of The Law. Keep left at a path junction, unless you wish to optionally include Kings Seat in your route. This path is part of the old route route across the Ochils between Blackford and Tillicoultry.
When you reach the watershed at Maddy Moss the main path bears left towards Andrew Gannel Hill. The drove road goes straight on alongside a fence. The grassy path is easy to follow in a westward direction to the 670m summit of Andrew Gannel with its rocky prow. The summit is set back from the prow.
From the summit, follow the path 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.