Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Customer Service

Once in a while a retailer provides service above and beyond what might reasonably be expected. Emodels is such a retailer.

As some may recall, I wrote here of building Revell's USS Voyager and how I damaged a few decals while applying them to the otherwise finished build. Emodels, from whom I'd bought all the required paints, kindly offered to get me a complete decal sheet from Revell in Germany. When the envelope recently arrived there were two sheets, one with a few decals damaged but otherwise perfect and a second sheet in pristine condition. When I e-mailed to thank them the reply revealed that the first sheet they'd received from Revell was damaged so they asked for another and sent me both. All this free of charge. How many would just have sent the damaged one or bothered to help at all?  I rate this as exceptional service, particularly since they had no way of knowing if I'd ever buy supplies from them again.

As I begin now to consider the best way to build the space shuttle Discovery, my new supplies of paint, masking tape etc will, of course, be bought from emodels. I would have started building this model during the heavy snow falls earlier this month when the huge drifts meant we were well and truly confined to the house, but I didn't have the paints.

I have considered starting a separate blog to chart the progress of the project which I plan to have finished by autumn - hill activities will come first - but I may just use this one. Building model space vehicles, whether real or fictional, may not have anything to do with hills, but what's more 'outdoors' than space?!

Discovery will not be as complex to build and paint as Voyager was but will be interesting all the same. The winter evenings have been set aside for second USS Voyager.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Wednesday 21 February - a perfect day

The Frandy Burn was low today so we easily stepped across the ice-free rocks at the usual place and headed out of the shadow and into the sun, eventually following our customary route upwards by the Inner Burn. Once on the broad, gently rising ridge leading to Mailer's Knowe a completely unnecessary sign points to Ben Shee. If you need this sign you probably should be walking in a park.

Someone studying their map and planning a trip here could be forgiven for thinking that there is dense tree cover on these slopes but it's mostly relatively new planting by the Woodland Trust which owns this part of the Ochils. The walking is open with unobstructed views, as you can see below.

The open slopes leading to Mailer's Knowe. Click to enlarge all photos
Despite having walked in these hills regulary for a huge chunk of our lives (I first climbed Ben Cleuch when nine) there are still many nooks and crannies that remain unknown to us. Often these are small glens striking only a few kilometres into the hillsides providing alternative, pathless, tussocky ways, rarely, if ever, used to reach the tops; sometimes no doubt they will prove to be nothing more than short diversions from the day's main objective but either way, I'm sure they will be of interest. They may even prove useful material for that rarest of things of late - a post on this blog.

I've a hankering to explore two of these 'unknown' places in the vicinity of today's walk. They are the two small glens whose burns cradle Middle Hill: Middlehill Burn and the unnamed burn below the western slopes of the hill. We have walked, both in ascent and descent, the third burn which meets this unnamed stream and whose source is just a few metres east of point 442m on the long broad ridge which leads from Skythorn Hill to the road near Backhills.

But back to today's walk.

At the boulder on Scad Hill we considered an ascent of Tarmangie Hill but rejected the idea in favour of Skythorn and a circuit back to the car. Seems to me that we often have this debate with the same outcome.

The final slopes to Scad Hill

The boulder with its frozen moat. A favourite place and favourite isolated boulder.

The walk from Scad Hill by Cairnmorris Hill (a mere bump and off picture). Andrew Gannel Hill ahead, Ben Cleuch distant

It was cold so we moved fast to get out of the wind - as you can see from the above photograph  there's no shelter here - but as we approached the stile and then Skythorn Hill (a minor rise in the picture above) things became more benign.

Tarmangie Hill from near the stile. Typical grassy terrain in the Ochils

We spotted two other walkers, a rare event, as we descended from Skythorn but they had vanished down to Backhills by the time we reached the point on the ridge near the source of unnamed burn mentioned earlier. We on the other hand stopped for lunch, enjoyed some Lapsang Souchong and the growing strength of the sun in our faces. But we had a final hill to cross so eventually stirred ourselves, somewhat reluctantly.

Now, Frandy Moss is a bog but a pleasant one if you know the route through it (and we do) so the last unmarked top of the day was quickly reached via the familiar ATV track. The 500m top is an excellent view point.

From near the 500m point looking to the slopes of Middle Hill (centre) and behind, the long broad ridge of Mailer's Knowe etc with Tarmangie peaking over it

A short distance above the track by the Frandy we enjoyed yet more time sitting in the sun finishing off our food before the lovely walk back to the car. Not a particulary long day (about 12km) but it was indeed a perfect one among our friendly hills.

The 1:50 000 map omits the names of many burns in the Ochils including Middlehill Burn. The route shown across Frandy Moss is not precise

Note: I expect I've posted about this walk before, perhaps more than once. Sorry if it's repetitive!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Tuesday 20 February - Some hills north of Glendevon

There was a time when Ben Trush (OS Thrush), Green Law, Sim's Hill and John's Hill could be approached easily by the Cadger's Path (Borland Glen), the Glendevon Youth Hostel's small car park providing a convenient starting point. A house now stands on the YH site and the small car park has been absorbed by its driveway. A walk down the busy A823 from Castlehill Reservoir's parking spot and then a loop via the quiet hamlet of Burnfoot is now one of two routes to the former YH start. Apart from the A832 bit it's a pleasant enough walk.

Today though we chose the second option, one which I never imagined walking even in my wildest nightmares: via the appalling Green Knowes Windfarm. Not only did we use the access road but passed under the massive turbines to drop down to the glen. The noise was horrendous, the whole place an abomination. Our intial intention was to cut over Ben Trush's south shoulder into Borland Glen but the turbines are almost as close when in the glen, the noise not much less (or so I thought) so I kept walking up the access road. Lynne was a bit behind watching some roe deer on the other side of Eastplace Burn so was not consulted!

I was wrong about the noise. It was almost unbearable: howling, screeching, whistling, whining, grinding. If you think this is 'green' then you're colourblind. I took a photograph of part of the once lovely route by the wall from Ben Trush's cairn and could have wept.

Passing between two turbines we gained the Cadger's quickly and were soon on the gentle slopes of Green Law, the change in our mood palpable, the feeling of well-being restored.

These are lonely hills, not often visited even from Corb Glen which is easily accessed from the Dunning road. We have been regular wanderers in this area for over thirty years and have watched the wreck shown below turn from a fairly intact turqoise-coloured vehicle to the present heap of rust. It has, as Lynne said, almost attained sculpture status, though it's as unwelcome here now as it was when it first was dumped. There's a second one near Sim's Hill which has been there for about twenty years I think. Why?


It's been a cold snowy winter up here, by recent standards at any rate, and although these modest heights had lost their snow cover, spring felt a long way away in the chill wind. After lunch on John's Hill's sunny slopes, where spring did not seem such a distant prospect, we quickly returned to the glen and the stroll down the grassy path.

A short climb through thick grasses led to a wall which we followed to the small cairn on Ben Trush. We turned to face south rather than look at the first of the turbines straight ahead. The higher Ochils were still holding snow and tomorrow we'd be crunching over it.

60m turbines. A peaceful place, full of memories, trashed.

Pleasant walking from Green Law to Sim's Hill and left John's Hill

Near the Cadger's Yett

Our hills for the following day