Making the most of yet another damp, dreich, late March day, Rhona and I “explored” a new-to-us low-level 6-mile walk, from Dollar to Pool of Muckhart and back.
The latter, though mapped as Pool of Muckhart, is usually referred to as simply Muckhart. This attractive place has consistently performed well in Scotland’s best-kept village competition.
With the River Devon to the (at times distant) right there is a gentle upstream rise of 100m, albeit with undulations. However, once back in Dollar I assessed that there is an overall ascent of some 250m. The first brief part of the walk is on the old Alloa to Kinross railway. The well-preserved section between Dollar and Tillicoultry, known as the Devon Way, gave me a thoroughly enjoyable walk last year, despite similar weather conditions.
Start from Park Place on the east side of the Dollar Burn and go past Strathdevon Primary School, Dollar Health Centre then playing fields to reach the railway track bed. Turn left and pass on the right the steadily rising massive grassy embankment where the railway curved southwards across the strath to reach the Devon. (The bridge is no more.)
Follow the embankment for a few yards to join a track leading to a worn path across fields. (Alternatively, curve left on a path beside houses, then turn right to a horse-rider friendly gate.) On our day the field edge track clearly showed its popularity for walkers, cyclists and riders. Normally at this stage there are good views to the Ochils.
Later a superb path leads to Wester Pitgober, map ref 973979. Turn right at the farm lane, with a slight dip then rise to Linnfield Farm close to the Devon. Turn left as indicated by the Public Path sign and passing a gate signed “dogs must be kept on a lead”. Head towards Pitgober and the now closer at hand A91.
The track curves by Pitgober House, then turn right on a minor Tarmac road that goes to Vicar’s Bridge across the Devon. One mile walked so far! Go past Devonbank Cottages but as the road curves to the right look out on the left for a sunken path, signposted Muckhart 2 miles. This is an old road from the 18th and 19th centuries; its age evident in places, a hollow way where the amount of traffic has eroded the surface so that sections are much lower than the surrounding land.
Follow the charming sunken way and cross a burn. Halfway across the next field take care to turn right as mapped, map ref 986986, (there is no sign) and follow the more vague path to reach a minor road and turn left. Another Public Path sign has Dollar 1½ miles. The minor road leads to a junction and more green signs. Straight on is the old road, once the principal way to Muckhart 1½ miles and our route. (To the right is another old road to Muckhart Mill and Rumbling Bridge.)
Head north-east, gently climbing on the broad farm track past Cowden Farm. A muddy cutting dips to a burn, once forded, but nowadays spanned by a wooden bridge. Climb through an open grassy area, though the way is still obvious, then leave the sunken way on either side to reach the brow of the hill and so to Leys Farm. Pass another public path sign, then by Tarmac road to reach a crossroads. Cross over as signed, ½ mile to Muckhart.
Pass on the right Muckhart School and by a charming path to School Road. At Coronation Hall on the left, reach the A91 at the west end of Muckhart. Later retrace steps for the slightly faster return to Dollar.
Map: Ordnance Survey map 58, Perth & Alloa
Distance: 6 miles
Terrain: Well-made pathway, mostly signposted
Start point: Park Place, Dollar
Time: 3 hours
Nearest town: Dollar
Recommended refreshment spot: Café des Fleurs, 44 Bridge Street, Dollar