IN WINTER, the sight of hills covered in snow is a beautiful sight. However, the nice looking but difficult to negotiate white stuff means a long summer walk can sometimes turn into a full-on mountaineering route only for the experienced and those fully equipped with ice axe and crampons.
This doesn’t, however, mean hillwalking is off limits. For a start, snow and ice are not there all the time, and not all snow is necessarily a perilous hazard. Second, with the number of hills in Scotland, finding one to walk up is not that difficult.
Meikle Bin is a great destination for a winter walk. Here, forest tracks give good access to higher ground and great views of the Campsies.
Recent work on signs by the Forestry Commission also means the many tracks are easy to navigate.
Much of the eastern side of Meikle Bin is used by mountain bikers on a series of marked trails. Although walkers are also welcome, in the interests of avoiding two wheels hurtling past you it is better to go up on foot from the east – it is also easier from this direction. So, unusually for rural areas where argument is a possibility, everyone should in theory be fairly happy.
Do remember though that severe weather can be a feature of winter in Scotland so check the forecast and conditions underfoot before heading out.
DISTANCE 6 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 1,300ft.
TIME 2 to 3 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK There is a parking area five miles west of Carron Bridge on the B818, at the end of Carron Valley Reservoir. You will find it opposite the entrance to Todholes Farm, under a Forestry Commission sign for Carron Valley.
IN SUMMARY Go up the track beyond a barrier at the back of the car park. Continue for about a mile, ignoring tracks going off to the right, to cross a concrete bridge over the River Carron.
Just after the bridge over the River Carron, go right at a junction of tracks. Slightly less than half a mile further on ignore a track going right, then reach a junction where you do go right to continue through trees. After a long, straight section, ignore a turning left and continue ahead. The track goes right then swings round to the left. Ignore a muddy path going up into trees to the left and continue round to a signpost from where you follow a path going up to the left. The path soon leaves the trees and follows open hillside up the broad, grassy northwest ridge of Meikle Bin. This last part is surprisingly long but the views do open out over the Campsies. To the right, just before reaching the trig point, are the remains of a Royal Navy Fairey Firefly aircraft which crashed in 1950.
From the top you can continue in the same direction and descend through forestry to make a loop but it is a rather arduous exercise and a return by the same route is preferable.
REFRESH There is the Carronbridge Hotel, just beyond the east end of the reservoir. There is also a good choice in Fintry.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Stirling isn’t far with its castle and the Wallace Monument. Or you could enjoy a drive on a great scenic road – the Crow Road running between Fintry and Lennoxtown. It is more technically known as the B822.