A long training run - the Ochils drover's

March 29th 2008

Nigel Rose

Five enthusiasts gathered at Dollar on Saturday morning to take part in what was euphemistically called "a long training run". In spite of the forecast the weather started dry. We had an easy start along the old railway track from Dollar to Tillicoultry. After negotiating the back streets of Tilli and passing the old quarry we began the dramatic ascent of Tillicoultry Glen. The track criss-crossed the steep sided glen over a number of bridges above cascading waterfalls. At the head of the glen we climbed out to find the path up the Gannel Burn.

On the open hillside the wind was bitingly cold and we could just see the hill tops, shrouded in mist and snow. At the head of the glen we headed for miles northwards over the hills by a faint (and sometimes mislaid) track to Upper Glendevon Reservoir. There was an astonishing hole in the water at the side of the reservoir so we stopped for our first lunch break to admire the view. Several miles of private road then took us past Lower Glendevon Reservoir to the main road through Glen Eagles. On the way, Michael showed a curious aversion to bridges by hopping across the outfall from the reservoir. We headed north again up the glen on the old drove road. The parts that hadn't been ruined by tractors were a delightful green road. As we left the drove road, we paused again in a sheltered spot for a second lunch.


We crossed Glen Eagles by the Old Toll House then had a brutal climb straight up the side of Eastbow Hill. On top it was distinctly cold and windy. We could see the wall we needed to follow stretching for miles eastwards across the gently undulating hills. It was rather tussocky underfoot but we kept moving as it wasn't a day for hanging around. After several miles we came to the site of a new wind farm. The concrete bases were in place but no towers. Fortunately the new road went in our intended direction and gave a nice change from the tussocks. As we left the site two huge lorries arrived with what looked like a missile from the Russian May Day parade. I was assured by the others that it was just the base of one of the turbine towers.

We clambered on through some more turbine workings and dropped down into Borland Glen This was the glen that inspired Haldane to write his classic "The Drove Roads of Scotland". We had a wonderful run which gently wound down through the valley for a couple of miles to Glendevon Youth Hostel at the bottom. Richard had noticed that there was an inn in Glendevon so it was something of a struggle to keep him moving before the rain which had just started got any worse. We found the hole in the hedge which led to the footbridge across the River Devon then climbed up into Glen Quey. We could sense the end was in sight so the pace quickened past the reservoir and up by the forest at the head of the glen. Further on the path took us into the sudden gloom of the deep forest.

Emerging from the other end we could see the ramparts of Castle Campbell on the hillside below us. We ran down to the castle then took the path down through the middle of Dollar Glen. It was quite exciting looking down from the aerial pathways into the deep cleft of the glen. Everywhere the rocky faces of the glen were covered in bright green ferns and mosses. We emerged into the top end of Dollar and managed a final hobbling sprint back to the cars - our journey of 24 miles (and more than a 1000 m up) was over. Soon afterwards we were to be found reclining in sumptuous leather armchairs and settees, sipping tea in the lounge of the Castle Campbell Hotel.

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