THE route has been chosen and the map is packed, but sometimes a plan B is needed when setting out for a walk.
Although a particular hill, river, or loch may have been on your mind for a while, there can be any number of reasons the trip has to be called off – poor weather being the usual one.
On one particular day a warning sign said access to the hill I wanted to go up was blocked because of fallen trees. I was a little put out but then realised there was somewhere nearby I wanted to explore – a place with a history and great Trossachs views.
So half an hour later, and in another car park, I set off for Samson’s Stone on Bochastle Hill and then Dunmore Fort beyond it.
This is a great winter walk with a 360 degree panorama and is proof that an alternative can be as a good as a first choice when it comes to enjoying a walk in Scotland.
DISTANCE 2∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 650ft.
TIME 1∫ to 2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK The Forestry Commission’s Bochastle car park is off the A821 near Kilmahog. Turn off the A84, on to the A821, and find it on the right after passing the Lade Inn and another car park on the left.
IN SUMMARY Drop back down the track from the car park and take a well-made path on the right. Go through a gate in a deer fence and pass a Woodland Trust Scotland sign next to the path.
After gaining a little height look for a marker post with an arrow on it and turn right on to a rougher path which leads uphill. The path climbs steeply – on grass and through broom – to reach the top of Bochastle Hill. Bear left to walk along the top of the hill and reach Samson’s Stone, which looks as if it is about to topple down on to the road below. The boulder is said by legend to be a putting stone used in a game between giants – although it is more probable that a glacier left it there following the Ice Age.
Go right at the stone and then bear left to drop down the hill. At the bottom the path bears right to reach another gate in a deer fence, which you go through and turn right. Go through a gap in an old stone wall to the left then cross a basic wooden footbridge before continuing your descent to a point further along the well-made track used near the start.
You can cut the walk short here by going left, but for the longer route go right and walk beneath a steep-sided hill to the right which once housed the Iron Age Dunmore Fort on the top. Although it looks tough to climb it is relatively easy to reach the top. At a junction of paths keep right to continue in roughly the same direction, rather than down to the road. Then, just before a large boulder, take a grass path which cuts back to the right. This climbs up the side of the hill and, once on its broad ridge, bears right. Carry on through the remains of ramparts – now all you can see are a series of ditches – to reach the top and great views of the Trossachs, with Ben Ledi dominating to the north-west. Return to the well-made path and follow it all the way back to the car park.
REFRESH The Lade Inn is near the start, or you could head into Callander where there is a good choice.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Doune Castle (signed off the A84, eight miles south of Callander) is a good place to visit (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk). Also, get an insight into the life of red kites at Argaty (www.argatyredkites.co.uk). n