Blairdennon and Bengengie Circuit
A fine high level circuit in the Ochils that can be a wee bit challenging in places where peat hags need to be tackled. This walk takes you to the quieter summits of the Ochils and includes Blairdennon Hill, one of the Ochil’s 2000’s, and the surprisingly rocky outcrop of Bengengie. You should be properly equipped for hill walking if undertaking this walk and navigation skills will be required in a few places. Most of the walking is on grassy paths and tracks but a few sections are off path over featureless ground. The final descent back to Alva is very steep and boots with good grip are highly recommended. A pair of walking poles would also be helpful at this point.
- Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
- Ascent: 720m / 2350 feet (via Silver Glen or Craighorn) 900m / 2950 feet (via the Nebit and Craighorn)
- Terrain: Grassy hill paths (steep in places), a bit of rough peat hag walking, some landrover track
- Start / finish: Alva Glen car park (grid reference NS 884 974)
Three options are possible for this walk. The first is an easy ascent using the landrover track up the Silver Glen. A second option adds Craighorn (and the Nebit if you wish) to the ascent route to make a complete high level horseshoe circuit of the Alva Glen headwaters.
Start the walk from the Alva Glen car park at the top of Brook Street . From the car park follow the path upstream to cross a footbridge to a viewing area for the impressive waterfall at the foot of the glen. From this point there is quite a network of paths. You want to head up the hillside in a roughly east direction to get above the burn and reach an old pipeline. If you spot any marker posts for the Diamond Jubilee Route follow these. Go under the pipeline and up a few steps beside a Scottish Water pump station to reach a metal pedestrian gate. Once through the gate you are on a path across the open hillside leading to a landrover track at the foot of the Silver Glen.
Go left onto the landrover track and follow the zig zags up the hill. It’s a bit tedious but is an easy way of gaining height. At the top of the zig zags there is a junction of tracks. At this point you need to decide upon your ascent option.
Silver Glen Approach
Keep on the main landrover track which heads up into the Silver Glen with the Nebit to your left and Wood Hill/Ben Ever to your right. The track takes you high up into the hills for just over 3km before coming to an end.
Craighorn Approach and The Nebit
Go left at the track junction around the south side of The Nebit. About 150m after the junction a grass path heads off to your right up the southern face of The Nebit. You can either use this path to reach the 449m summit or simply stay on the landrover track and follow it around to the western side of the hill to reach the Glenwinnel Burn and the start of the ascent on to Craighorn. If going over the Nebit descend from the summit in a west north west direction back down to the landrover track at the Glenwinnel Burn.
Cross the burn and then start to ascend the grass slope of Craighorn ahead of you. A grass path soon starts to form and takes you all the way to the 583m summit area.
Beyond the summit the ground flattens out and the path continues northwards to reach a wooden gate in a fence. Climb over the gate and follow another grass path/track to your right in a roughly north direction away from the fence line. The path takes you across the edge of the boggy ground known as Alva Moss to reach the top of the Silver Glen landrover track.
From the end of the landrover track it is now necessary to cross the featureless wet peat hagg ground of Alva Moss. Blairdennon can be seen in the distance with a small hummock in front of it. There are feint paths/tracks around the worst of the bog which can be used to aid progress. However, these are easily lost so if visibility is poor it is probably best to take a compass bearing on the corner of the fence at NN 879 016 (close to the hummock) and aim directly for this spot. The “paths” go in a more westerly direction before turning north to avoid losing height ,and then turn north west to reach the fence corner.
After crossing the fence close to the hummock, there is an obvious grass track/path for 1.5km up the gentle eastern slopes of Blairdennon Hill. The summit of the hill is at the fence junction (don’t be misled by a cairn which is passed on the flatter ground before the summit). The actual summit is fairly unremarkable with just a few stones and requires a climb over the fence. The views from here are excellent on a good day.
If you crossed the fence to reach the summit stones, cross back again and return in the direction in which you came for about 300 – 400m. Leave the path heading south over tussocky grass towards the obvious lump of Bengengie ahead of you. The ground gets wetter as you start to approach the Menstrie Moss peat hags. Keep to the right (west) of the steep sided valley in front of you. If you can keep close to this valley away from the peat haggy ground you will be able to pick up a grassy path/track to aid your approach over the rough ground.
As you approach Bengengie, the path splits, with the right hand option going around the hill. Keep to the left if you want to include the summit and ascend the grassy lump in front of you.
From the summit the direct descent is steep and rocky so go slightly right (west) to descend on the easier ground and rejoin the path that went round the west side of the hill. Look back at the hill to see a surprisingly rocky summit!
Continue on along the high level path for 1.5km to reach a cairn at the 542m point high above Alva Glen. The path now turns south east towards Big Torry and Wee Torry. Stick with the obvious path and don’t be tempted to aim for the cairn to the south (unless you want a diversion to it). As you start to lose height, the terrain becomes more lumpy and interesting until the path turns sharp left into a steep grassy gully just before Wee Torry.
Head down the rather steep gully on a very feint grass path. When you reach the lower reaches of the gully aim right, away from the gully, towards a flat grassy knoll. There’s a bit of a path now although it soon fades out again. Pick your way down the steep broken ground southwards to reach an obvious grass path. This path forms part of the network of paths in Alva Glen. It is now straightforward to follow this path off the hill although the descent to the golf course is a bit steep in places. Go through a gate and follow the path back to the car park.