Walk of the Week: Glen Dochart
THE Kirkton Glen, Balquhidder to Glen Dochart public footpath, generously signposted as 7 miles, is 6 miles at most. With the 580m mid-point offset by a starting height at either end of circa 140m, that makes for an easy 3-hour outing – ideal during the stalking season and/or when it’s too blustery for the high tops.
I met Rhona at Ledcharrie by the A85 and, leaving one car there, we had a south/north traverse, starting from the considerably more attractive Balquhidder. Not that two cars are essential. Apart from two miles on the narrow Balquhidder road, a curving cycle route to the east via Glen Ogle gives a pleasant bike ride before or after the walk.
Arguably the best way to go, the Kirkton Glen ascent has an excellent track and path, whereas the descent to the A85 has a poor path, vague in places and usually wet. The Library Tearoom in Balquhidder only opens May to September. We made it with a few days to spare and over home-baked scones Rhona indulged in a trip down memory lane. Her first and only traverse was as long ago as 1977 – on the back of a pony. This time it was to be Shanks’ pony.
Balquhidder has associations with the famous, or notorious, MacGregor chieftain, Rob Roy, and with the MacLaren clan. At the tearoom we met a Canadian family researching their clan roots. The nearby Creag an Tuirc, the Boar’s Rock, was traditionally the rallying place of the MacLarens.
Start from Balquhidder Old Kirk or slightly to the west via a slanting path from the road. A lovely path by the east bank of the Kirkton Burn climbs north through the wood. After making a short detour to a waterfall, head right as signposted. The path joins a narrow forestry track, just one of many in a possibly confusing area. However, simply stay with the track on the burn’s east bank to gently climb through the partially open forest, with clear views to the craggy ridge on the east side.
Continue to a wooden bench and the start of the Glen Dochart path, map ref 523238, clearly signposted.
Then clear the trees, cross a fence by a stile, and head towards what is known as Rob Roy’s Putting Stone, by far the most massive of many a boulder from the fractured south – west face of Leum an Eireannaich, the Irishman’s leap – and no, I don’t know why. The 580m bealach contains the surprisingly large and well-hidden Lochan an Eireannaich.
It is then a steep descent into the treeless glen, redeemed only by good views west to Ben More and Stob Binnein. Lower down, traversing a very wet and rough area, the line of the path is marked by periodic marker posts. The notice board by Balquhidder Kirk stresses that good navigation skills are needed in misty weather.
Pass an old shieling and eventually reach a narrow, grassy track of old, most welcome after the rough passage from one post to another.
Thereafter the path gets somewhat vague and despite our clear day we drifted a bit too far NNE. We crossed the railway track from Glen Ogle (part of the Caledonian Line – Callander to Oban – axed as part of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s). Then going through a cattle-churned area we lost all traces of the “path”. We headed straight for the road rather than search out the mapped way, going to Ledcharrie Farm.
MAP: Ordnance Survey map 51, Loch Tay and Glen Dochart
DISTANCE: 6 miles
TERRAIN: Good lrack and path then a bit wet and vague at times descent
START POINT: Balquhidder
NEAREST VILLAGE: Balquhidder
REFRESHEMENTS: The Library Tearoom Balquhidder or Golden Larches Restaurant
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East