Friday, 10 December 2010

Winter Walking in the Ochils

This weekend just gone, a bothy trip up north was cancelled due to bad weather conditions on the roads. But carpe diem! We took the opportunity of a fine Saturday to stretch our legs and get some fresh air and scenery in the modest braes of the Ochils.

Ochil escarpment from Abbey Craig:


Although these Central Belt hills are low compared to the Highlands - 721m at their highest on Ben Cleuch - they form a steep escarpment above the Forth plain, and are more impressive in appearance than many larger hills. Rushing burns drop to the plain via steep-sided glens, these rivers providing power in the past to water mills - a contrast to today's power manifestations of Longannet and Grangemouth.

Grangemouth from Alva Glen:


The glens provide routes up on to the bald, smooth summits. With the snow down so low, these rocky sided glens provide good sport, and we had the ice axes out barely 200m above sea level, as we crossed the gorge of Alva Glen at its confluence with the Glenwinnel burn.

In Alva Glen:


Once established on the other side, we couldn't avoid noticing several slab avalanches. We contoured high up on the Nebit to avoid falling victim to one ourselves...

Ochil Avalanches:


The snow was deep, and it was hard work, especially as I am out of shape since damaging my knee in May! Skiers on the slopes of Ben Ever seemed to have the better idea, with miles of cross-country skiing possible - though as this is all off-piste, any elegant descents had to be paid for in sweat.

Looking down on the Nebit and the Forth:


Once on the plateau, views opened up. Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh looked tiny, and the air was clear to the south and west. Tinto and the highest peaks on Arran were visible. However clouds had formed to the north, so only part of the Highlands were on show.

Looking west from Ben Ever towards the Trossachs, Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi prominent:


It was a relief to finally reach the summit. Days are short in winter, and the sun was already setting, giving us memorable light.

On the summit:


Viewpoint indicator:


Fenceposts at the top of Ben Cleuch:


Heading for home - Pentlands visible across the Forth:


On the edge of the Ochil escarpment, knee-jarring descent ahead!


All that remained was to descend from our high perch, into the post-sunset gloom of Mill Glen and a walk back along the road to Alva. However a kind trio of youngsters gave us a two-mile lift back from Tillicoultry to Alva - much appreciated :)

Ben Cleuch at sunset:

8 comments:

Alex said...

Excellent photos and a cracking day out by the looks of it.

Spockgirl said...

Beautiful! especially the photo with the fence posts.

PurestGreen said...

Gorgeous! The light in the last photo is just stunning.

Ryan said...

I really enjoyed that, I didn't realise the views from the Ochils are so stunning. The only blurt on the landscape is Grangemouth. The refinery not the town lol, oh well we all need petrol I suppose.

Robert Craig said...

Was a good day out, rescued the cancelled weekend!

Hmmm Grangemouth, I will see what pictures I have...

Andy Miller said...

Hi Robert, Love your pictures. Would it be ok to use one of them on the Perth Hillwalking Facebook page? We're going to the Ochils next month and wanted to show people how good conditions can be! Thanks, Andy

Robert Craig said...

Hi Andy please do, and put a link back to the page too? Thanks!

Andy Miller said...

Absolutely will put a link up to your page! Thanks very much!