This is a more challenging route on to Ben Cleuch (721m) than the usual approaches from the south. The walk takes you through some of the quieter parts of the Ochil Hills. Some sections of this route are off path and quite rough (and wet) whilst other paths may be hard to follow in misty conditions. Navigation skills will be required if visibility is poor and you should also ensure you are properly equipped for a hill walk. Allow 6 – 7 hours for this walk.
Distance: 18 km / 11.2 miles
Ascent: 650 m / 2100 feet
Start / finish: Glendevon
Facilities: parking at the bottom of the Glendevon Reservoir road, refreshments at the Tormaukin Inn in Glendevon village.
The walk is started from the foot of the private road to Backhills Farm and the Glendevon Reservoirs, off the A823 at grid ref NN 949 052. There is room to park at the side of the road, in the layby opposite on the public road or in a small parking area just beyond the sign saying no vehicles beyond this point.
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 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.
Depart from Ben Cleuch summit in an easterly direction on a wide path following the fence. Don’t veer off to the right to head over The Law but keep straight on over a stile and start to ascend Andrew Gannell Hill with its little rocky prow.
From the summit of Andrew Gannell do not take the commonly used path eastwards but take a feinter path in a north east direction alongside the fence. This path will take you down to the summit of the old Blackford to Tillicoultry drove route. At this point NN 923 009 cross over the fence at an old stile and pick up a path on the other side. This new path continues to proceed in a north easterly direction to reach the top of Skythorn Hill with a small pile of stones marking its summit.
After Skythorn the path continues on still following the fence line until it reaches a high deer fence at NN 929 014. Fortunately there is a stile to enable you to cross this fence with ease. Now take the left fork in the path which takes you away from the fence line you have been following since Ben Cleuch. If you go right it will take you towards Tarmangie Hill. This path is quite grassy and not as well trodden as the previous path as it crosses Cairnmorris / Scad Hill. A large boulder in the middle of the path provides reassurance you are on the correct route and the bulk of Ben Shee (the fairy hill) should be in front of you. If visibility is poor, this section will require navigation skills.
You are now in Woodland Trust land and as the path gradually loses height, young trees start to dot the landscape. As you descend to the coll before Ben Shee, a waymarked route comes in from the right. Shortly after a waymarked route goes left.
If you want, you can have a short detour up on to the summit of Ben Shee before returning to the coll.
From the coll, follow the waymarked route on your left downhill to the north west. This path quickly loses height and brings you to the bottom of the hill. When you reach a sign post, turn left on the path for the Glendevon Reservoirs (not the Glendevon Reservoir Trail). Very quickly you will arrive at picnic table at a grassy spot by the Frandy Burn.
It’s now necessary to cross the burn and despite the signposts and picnic tables there is no bridge! Take care crossing the river as some bits are quite deep. Once across, a path goes up the opposite bank and brings you back to Frandy. From Frandy you can rejoin the tarmac road and walk back downhill to your starting point.
View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.
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