Trees are the in thing at the moment. Whereas once the idea of planting them in the uplands of Scotland was greeted with dismay as massive expanses of hillside were covered in conifers, there is now a new movement to regenerate these areas.
Obviously, not everyone is happy as the planting of native trees such as birch or rowan means big areas are off limits to deer, which munch the saplings. And so stalking cannot take place until the woodland is established, something which takes longer than a couple of years.
A good place to see how a hillside can undergo regeneration is Ben Shee in the Ochils, where in recent years the Woodland Trust has undertaken a large-scale planting operation. The trees aren’t fully grown but the pleasant transformation is taking shape, with hopes of a return of wildlife.
Some wildlife is already enjoying a resurgence in these parts. Walking up to this great viewpoint in the centre of the hills, behind the wall of summits which stand over the Forth Valley, I saw an osprey fly overhead, clutching a young trout from a well-stocked reservoir in its talons. It seems it is not just trees that can lead to regeneration.
Distance 4½ miles.
Height climbed 1,000ft.
Time 2½ to 3 hours.
Map OS Landranger 58.
Park The Forestry Commission’s Glen Sherup car park is about 1½ miles west of Glendevon village on the A823.
In summary A path leaves the car park by some information boards and goes up past a white cottage on the left to reach a track. Follow this into forestry and after about half a mile go right at a signpost for Lower Glendevon Reservoir. A steep path drops down to the dam of Glen Sherup Reservoir which is crossed by a grass path. On the other side go up to a track and turn left to follow it past a hut and along the reservoir to a gate in a deer fence. The grass path goes a few hundred yards beyond the end of the reservoir then begins to climb steadily to the right. After gaining about 300ft, the path swings round to the right. Ignore a turning left and follow a sign for the summit of Ben Shee. Then, shortly after joining a track, go right on a fairly steep grass path which goes up to the grassy top.
Continue on the small grass path over the hill, bearing left at a fork. The path drops down to a track and you should continue in a north-easterly direction, dropping down eventually to a gate in a deer fence. Once through this, follow a grass track over sheep grazing land to a reservoir access road down to the right. Go left on reaching the road to pass a farm and go down to the A823. Go right here and follow the road with care for just less than half a mile, back to the car park.
Refresh In the centre of Glendevon, on the A823, is the Tormaukin Inn, which serves great food.
While you are in the area Head for the dramatic 15th century Castle Campbell, at the top of Dollar Glen.
Not much further is Stirling with the Wallace Monument and castle, both of which give lovely views along the whole of the Ochils.