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Issue 85 - 10 Best Hill Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 85
February 2016


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10 Best Hill Walks

Keith Fergus goes hill walking

Screel, Galloway

4 miles: Screel rises to over 1000 feet above the Colvend Coast near Dalbeattie. From the car park, walk around a barrier and climb a forestry track which swings right to a fork. Keep left, then right, onto a path, and continue to a forestry road. Once across, follow another path through recently cleared hillside - keep a close eye on the path, as it can be indistinct. The steep climb continues past a seat and here there is a magnificent view of the Galloway coastline. A flatter section of path soon swings right from where a final steep ascent zigzags through some crags onto Screel’s broad ridge where outstanding views of the Colvend Coast and Cumbria can be enjoyed. The summit cairn sits a little to the north west where the view inland across Castle Douglas to the Carsphairn Hills is spectacular. The simplest means of descent is to retrace steps, enjoying further vistas of the big Lake District mountains.
OS Landranger Map 84 Start/Finish NX800547.

Cademuir Hill, Scottish Borders

5.75 miles: Cademuir Hill stands on the outskirts of Peebles and holds the remains of 2 iron-age forts. From Kingsmeadow Car Park follow the John Buchan Way through the town to Edderston Road. From here go through a gate and walk south west up the lower slopes of Cademuir Hill. Once over a crest, keep left at a fork and continue the ascent to the right of Cademuir Plantation. Just beneath the summit, beside a waymark, turn right from the John Buchan Way and take the final climb to gain the 407-metre top. There, a panorama across the Glensax Hills and to Broughton Heights opens out. Return to the waymark and turn right onto the John Buchan Way. A path drops steeply down to a minor road and here turn left. Walk through glorious countryside and then along Bonnington Road. Upon reaching Springwood Road, turn right, then left, onto Springhill Road and descend back to Kingsmeadow Car Park.
OS Landranger Map 73 Start/Finish NT255401.

Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

3.25 miles: Blackford Hill is 2.5 miles from Edinburgh City Centre. From Charterhall Road climb Blackford Avenue then turn right onto Observatory Road. After the last house on the right, bear right onto a path which immediately forks. Go left, then right, from where a grassy track climbs steadily past the observatory and then two radio masts to reach the summit - the Lothian and Fife coastlines and Arthur’s Seat can be seen. Retrace past the large radio mast and bear right, then right again at a junction, and descend a steep flight of steps. Go left at another junction and continue to a fork. Go right and walk alongside the Braid Burn all the way through the Hermitage and Blackford Hill Nature Reserve. Exit by turning right onto Braid Road and then, after Morningside Parish Church, turn right onto Cluny Gardens, which is followed onto Charterhall Road back to the start.
OS Landranger Map 66 Start/Finish NT260710.

Lime Craig, Stirlingshire

4 miles: Rising sharply above Aberfoyle, Lime Craig grants a magnificent panorama across The Trossachs. From the village centre follow the Dukes Pass (A821) uphill for 0.4km then bear right up steps into woodland. Follow green waymarks to a junction, go right and continue, soon crossing a bridge over the Allt a’ Mhangan. Now turn left and follow the red waymarked Lime Craig Trail. Climb to another junction, go left and keep ascending to a crossroads. Turn right through more gorgeous woodland for 0.75km to the base of Lime Craig. Make a left and take the steep climb up a path to the 310-metre top and an astonishing panorama that takes in the Campsie Fells, Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi and Ben Venue. Descend back to the Lime Craig Trail then turn left onto the old Wagon Way. This drops steeply, crossing a track to reach a second track. Turn right, continue back to the bridge over the Allt a’ Mhangan from where steps are retraced back to Aberfoyle.
OS Landranger Map 57 Start/Finish NS522009.

Beinn an t-Sidhein, Stirlingshire

4 miles: Beinn an t-Sidhein (pronounced Ben Shee-han, meaning Fairy Mountain) climbs above the attractive village of Strathyre and grants one of the finest panoramas in the Southern Highlands. From the village’s Forestry Commission car park take the suspension bridge across the River Balvag and follow blue waymarks past Strathyre Primary School then left into Strathyre Forest. A steep climb reaches a forestry track and here turn right for 100m then go left. Another steep climb leads above the tree line and some incredible views along Loch Lubnaig. A fainter and boggier path now climbs onto An t-Sidhein after which another path crosses heather moorland onto Beinn an t-Sidhein’s 572-metre summit. Here, the views of Stuc a Chroin, Ben Lawers and the Crianlarich Munros are breathtaking. Drop back down to the forestry track and go left for 0.4km, go right at a junction and follow a minor road to another junction. Turn left across a road bridge back into Strathyre.
OS Landranger Map 57 Start/Finish NN560169.

Beinn Lora, Argyll & Bute

4 miles: The 308-metre Beinn Lora is a marvellous vantage point to survey much of the Argyll landscape and the West Highlands. From the Forestry Commission car park in Benderloch go through a gate then bear right at a fork. A steep path rises through woodland to a junction just after a viewpoint. Keep right where a steep climb leads out of the woodland to reach another junction. Again go right then take the centre path at a 3-way split. This rises to a picnic bench and a gate. Once through the route drops down over a short, boggy section where the path becomes a little indistinct but soon improves as it makes the final, stiff pull onto the summit of Beinn Lora. Loch Etive draws the eye to Ben Cruachan’s beautiful profile with Ben Lui and the Arrochar Alps rising beyond. The huge Glen Coe and Glen Etive mountains climb sharply to the north, while west the brawny landscape of Morvern, Ardgour and the Paps of Jura create an impressive barricade. To return to Benderloch simply retrace steps.
OS Landranger Map 49 Start/Finish NM905381.

Birnam Hill, Perthshire

4 miles: Birnam Hill just scrapes over the 400-metre mark but is a spectacular vantage point to enjoy the wonderful Perthshire landscape. Leave Birnam Glen Road and take the waymarked path beneath a railway line to a crossroads. Go straight on, then left at a fork to reach a path signed for Birnam Hill. Turn left here and take the firm path that rises steeply up the Birnam Hill’s lower slopes. This passes an obvious crag, which is a terrific vantage point. An easier incline then continues to the summit and a fabulous view of Schiehallion, the River Tay and the flatter plains of Perthshire and Fife. Descend along the ‘Path to Quarry Car Park’, eventually dropping back down into woodland. At a track turn left for Birnam, then after 150-metres bear right onto a path, which undulates through woodland. When a broader track merges from the left turn right and continue onto a narrow road then the outward-bound route. Turn right and retrace steps back under to Birnam.
OS Landranger Map 52 Start/Finish NO032418.

Dun Deardail, Lochaber

6 miles: Good tracks climb above Glen Nevis to reach Dun Deardail (Dun Jee-ard All) - its 347-metre summit is a vantage point to view much of Glen Nevis. From the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre turn left onto the Glen Nevis road then, after 100 metres, take a path on the right signposted for the West Highland Way. It leads into woodland, from where it climbs steadily to a track. Turn left at the waymark and walk south along the West Highland Way. After 1.25km the track splits, so go right for a prolonged ascent above Glen Nevis. Eventually a series of zigzags climb to a waymarked path on the left. Follow this as it curves right and ascends steeply over grassy hillside to the summit. The top still has visible remains of a fort that was built around 2000 years ago while a stunning view extends across Glen Nevis to the huge flanks of Ben Nevis, Sgurr a Mhaim and Stob Ban. From the top, retrace steps back to Glen Nevis.
OS Landranger Map 41 Start/Finish NN123729.

Creag Bheag, Speyside

3.5 miles: The 487-metre summit has a great view of Speyside. From Ardvonie Car Park, take the path at its right corner to Tait’s Brae. Turn right, follow the road to Middle Terrace then bear left onto a track. Once through a gate, a wide track climbs through a wood. At a fork go left and in a while come out of the wood. A path rises over open hillside, ascending to a cairn. Go left and follow the ridge to the top to enjoy views of the Cairngorms and the Monadhliath. Retrace to the cairn but keep straight on along the ridge, then descend to a waymarked junction near Loch Gynack. Turn right where a path runs through woodland, eventually passing through a gap in a wall. Bear left through a gate then turn right onto a path through a firebreak to a caravan park. Just before this, go right, follow a path to the right of a fence into woodland and a junction. Turn left, descend to Middle Terrace and return to Kingussie.
OS Landranger Map 35 Start/Finish NN757004.

Scolty Hill, Aberdeenshire

2.5 miles: Although rising to only 299 metres above Banchory, Scolty Hill grants one of the finest panoramas along the length of the River Dee. From Scolty Woodlands car park head west onto a white waymarked forestry track then go left. Keep left at the next fork then once through a gate turn left onto a woodland path. This climbs gradually, for approximately 50 metres, to an orange/brown waymarked path on the right. A steep ascent southwest culminates at the summit of Scolty Hill, adorned with General Burnett’s Tower. The views extend along Deeside to the distant Cairngorms and the Aberdeenshire coast. Beyond the tower bear right, then left again at the next 3 forks and descend a path down to a fork beside a flatter area of ground. Go right and traverse the lower slopes of Scolty Hill to the next fork. Keep left and upon reaching another path turn right and descend back to the outward-bound track at a gate. Once through, return to the car park.
OS Landranger Map 45 Start/Finish NO686948.

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