Ochils Journey Run
Saturday 20th November 2010
The Ochils journey run on Saturday was well attended, with eleven Carnethies, four fellow runners from Gala Harriers and two dogs. We assembled in the centre of Dollar beside the new-fangled public toilet. It had a novel way of collecting money from the public – you could get in for free but it cost 20p to lock the door. The weather forecasts were not very good and we could see low cloud sitting hard down on the hills.
Preparing to tacke the Ochils!

We set off up the back of Dollar then contoured round the side of Bank Hill until we could see Castle Campbell. From there, we climbed up Bank Hill then up in increasingly thick mist to the top of King's Seat. The leaders had to shelter from the wind behind the summit cairn while the rest of us caught up. It was quite tricky to find the right way off the featureless top of King's Seat and I don't think everyone appreciated my scenic route down to the head of the Gannel Burn but we all arrived in the correct place. We followed the fence though a little valley to the ornate stile with metal handholds near Skythorn Hill. At that point I offered a short cut back but there were no takers. We continued on a long, grassy ridge run towards Ben Shee, pausing at one point to admire a large rock sitting in its own little moat. The mist cleared for a while so we had hazy views across to Glen Eagles and back by the Glendevon reservoirs.

The side of Ben Shee towards Glensherup Reservoir has recently been planted with new woodland. I warned everyone to watch out for holes in the ground where trees had been planted. We spread out on the steep descent of the hillside, looking for an elusive gate in the deer fence lower down. I heard a shout to my left, “I've found a hole!” There was a similar cry to the right; soon everyone was finding holes. I began to wish I hadn't said anything about them. We found the gate and all made it safely to the bottom of the hill without falling into any holes. We were getting hungry so we stopped for lunch in a sheltered spot at the end of the dam, admiring the tranquil waters of the reservoir as we ate.

After lunch we climbed steadily up a forest road on the flank of Innerdownie. We found the right place to escape from the forest out on to the open hillside. There was a long climb up over several false summits before we reached the top of Innerdownie. It was maybe just as well we couldn't see far in the mist. A level run on grassy paths followed before the final ascent to the top of Whitewisp Hill. We hardly noticed the summit – a small pile of stones at the side of the path. We descended towards Saddle Hill then struck straight down the hillside to a sheep fank at the bottom. By now we could see Castle Campbell and Dollar below. The run developed into a dash for the finish. Most of us came down the steep and dramatic gorge of Dollar Glen, over bridges and raised walkways. It wasn't until I met others at the bottom that I realised there were so many different ways down Dollar Glen. The day was rounded off by a visit to the excellent coffee shop in the centre of Dollar – just as the rain began.

Nigel Rose.


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