Category Archives: Within a radius of 40 miles

Bard Country

Start at OS Reference NS328 206 which is the car park adjacent to Ayr India on the seafront in Ayr.

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Getting there: 40 miles/60 minutes
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow to join the M8 going west. Exit the M8 at Junction 22 onto the M77 south towards Prestwick Airport. The M77 becomes the A77 just before Kilmarnock. Follow the signs for Ayr. At the Monkton Roundabout take the slip lane towards Stranraer/Ayr. Avoid Ayr town centre! Continue on the A77 and follow signs for Alloway/Stranraer. After the Bankfield Roundabout continue on the A77 and follow signs for Alloway/Doonfoot/Heads of Ayr. Follow signs for ‘A719 Coastal Route’ and Burns National Heritage Park and turn right into Doonholm Road. Cross the small roundabout and continue on past the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. At the end of the road turn right and at the mini roundabout turn left into Greenfield Avenue. At next roundabout turn right into Doonfoot Road and continue until traffic lights. Turn left into Seafield Road, go over a small roundabout and at the seafront turn right past Ayr India and into the car park. Parking is free but watch the speed bumps! Toilets are 30p.

The walk: 9 miles (Shorter options of about 6.5 miles are possible)
Follow the promenade south towards the River Doon and then turn left before the bridge. At the roundabout turn left and cross the road at the traffic island bearing right and then left into Greenfield Avenue and after 150m turn left into Belleisle Park. Follow the driveway towards the main house. Bear right at an obvious split in the driveway and after 50m turn left by the wall. Turn right through a gate in the wall into the garden and exit the garden to the left. Pass the greenhouse and continue on past the house (on the left) and follow a clear path across the golf course. At the Monument Road turn right and after 50m turn left into RoZelle Park. After 25m turn left onto the bridleway and follow the Poppy Trail. Just before a large poppy sculpture turn left and enter the Remembrance Woodland. Return to the Poppy Trail and take the path to the east of the pond and at the main drive turn left towards the McLaurin Galleries. Continue on the main path through the estate and at the bridleway turned left. At a T-junction of paths/bridleway turn left. Follow the path (crossing  Laughlanglen Road) until it exits the woodland (with the Slaphouse Burn on your left) at the Maypole Road. Turn right and after 250m turn right again to join the old railway line, now a cycle path. Exit the cycle path at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

From the museum turn left along Murdoch’s Lone and turn left onto the High Maybole Road (B7024). Just before the hotel turn left and enter the Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens. Exit the gardens via a stepped path down to the Old Brig of Doon. Cross it and at the end of a short muddy section turn right and carefully cross the B7024 into Long Hill Avenue. Keep to the pathway on the left until the bridge. Cross the road and takes a few steps down to rejoin the old railway line/cycle path and continue left until it ends at the Dunure Road (A719). Cross this busy road carefully. Take the path opposite and bear right and after a short distance turn left onto a straight minor road towards the coast. Where the road turns right* bear slightly left down a track to the beach and turn right along the shore. After passing Greenham Castle take a path through the dunes to the car park. Head towards the exit and turn left along a grassy area through another car park until you reach the River Doon. Cross the bridge and continue on the promenade (northwards) to return to the cars.

*Depending on the tides, it may be necessary to follow the road round to the right. Continue down the road for about 800 m and turn left towards the car park and then bear right along the grassy area.

Keep your eyes open:

For golf balls; Remembrance Woodland and sculpture Trail; the McLaurin Galleries; Robert Burns Birthplace Museum; the Auld Kirk; Burns Monument and Gardens; Brig O’ Doon; Greenan Castle; birdlife.

Coalsnaughton Walk

Starting Point
OS Reference NS 924 957 Muircot Farm Shop in Coalsnaughton (FK13 6LS)

Getting there: 38 miles/45 minutes
Take the M8 towards Edinburgh and exit on the left to Stirling on the M80. At exit 8 follow the signs to Kincardine. Merge with the M9 but stay in the left hand lane and take exit 7 to Kincardine Bridge still on the M876. The road changes to the A876 and at the next roundabout take the first exit to Alloa on the A907. Note this will take you over the Clackmannan Bridge which will take you to a roundabout and again take the first exit following the A907 to Alloa.

Two more roundabouts with the same instructions will bring you to a third roundabout where you will take the second exit marked Tillicoutry, Alva and Sauchie on the B909.

Another roundabout will see you take the second exit on the A908 to Tillicoutry, Glenochil and Sauchie. Two miles up this road, having passed through Sauchie, you will enter Fishcross which is marked as a major cross roads. Here you will turn right on to the B9140 and another two  miles will see you enter Coalsnaughton. Go through the village and the Muircot Farm Shop is on the left just before you leave the village and about 100m before the ‘national limit’ speed sign. Careful because you come on it quite suddenly. Park vertically to the fence at the road boundary of the car park.

The Walk:
8.5 miles (Self-guided shorter options are available) Coffee is available at the Farm Shop  before heading out on the walk.

From the Muircot Farm Shop, turn left on the B9140. The B9140 is a very busy road but there is a narrow verge on the other side of the road where one can walk in a single file. After 300m turn left towards the Devonknowes Livery.  Follow the track down to a cottage, ignoring the sign which says “Path”, and continue down to the right for about 100m to a silver metal gate. Do not go through the gate but climb over the stile to the right of the gate and set off down a very narrow grassy path between a hedge and a field. Down and down by rough steps which may be slippery until a good path is reached. Turn right and after 20m note the sign for the River Devon Trail. A long stretch along this path, which is muddy in places, eventually meets a LRT of red blaise. The River Devon Trail waymarks to the left but we go right up a steep hill which soon levels off and eventually returns to the B9140. Cross over the road, continue by the ponds on the right and Aberdona Gallery. Careful since there are no verges and the few cars seem to move fast. 200m before turning left at a signpost marked “Path”! Pass a cottage on the left and once through close the gate. Continue downhill, pass a broken tree on the right and keep on. The path terminates at a large field with a metal silver gate, which may or may not be open alongside a fence. Follow this track beside a lade, noting the Black Devon river steeply below you, all the way to a major four-way junction. Go straight on and observe Gartmorn Dam Reservoir on the right. Follow the excellent path round the dam view point and then Gartmorn House, both options for lunch. Continue on the path to the Visitors Centre, cafe and toilets. A further 1.6 km round the dam will bring us to a track, Jamie’s Loan, which, turning left, will lead straight back up to Coalsnaughton and the B9140. Turn right and walk the short distance along the road, single file on verge on right, back to the Muircot Farm Shop.

 

A Convolution around Muiravonside

This is lovely, varied walk is full of twists and turns, a canal and a river and paths not marked on maps! With a bit of history thrown in it’s perfect.

There are two opt-outs. The first is to stay in the park.  There are ample walks, an art trail (two pieces from which we all see) and a park café. The second opt-out is to return after the visit to Muiravonside Kirk by returning to cross the canal at Haining Bridge and following the route back which you will take alongside the canal. This cuts out three miles, in wet weather almost all  mud.

Park in the main carpark in Muiravonside Country Park. The Satnav postcode of EH49 6LW gets you to the village of Muiravonside but then misdirects you. If you’re following this, once in the village, keep on the road in the direction of travel and turn right into the park.

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To get there, for those without satnavs.

Take the M8 east (towards Edinburgh for the geographically challenged) and then the M80 off left to Stirling, Kincardine Bridge etc. Follow the M80/A80 as per usual, until you come to the M876 marked Kincardine Bridge, Falkirk and Grangemouth. (Just before the blue motorway sign you’ll see the brown tourist sign for the Falkirk Wheel.) Take this motorway to the left: the inside lane goes off on the M876 while the M80 continues on towards Perth. About seven miles further on ignore the M9 sign going north (on your left) and continue on for about a mile until the M876 merges with the M9 coming in on your right. It’s really very easy – just keep driving. When the motorways merge, the inside lane goes off to Kincardine Bridge so get into the middle lane and make for Linlithgow, Grangemouth etc. You sweep round Falkirk and make for Junction 4. Look out for the enormous Kelpies (horses’ heads) on the Forth and Clyde canal. Leave the motorway at Junction 4 and come down the slip road to a large roundabout. Go right round the roundabout ignoring a road to a ski slope, a slip road back on to the motorway and the A803 to Linlithgow ( and ignore  the seductive brown signpost to Beecraigs Country Park) and take the next exit, the A801 signposted to Bathgate, Livingston and Maddiston (and the M8). Drive straight down this road for two miles till you come to Bowhouse roundabout. Turn first left on the B825 (signposted in brown to Muiravonside Country Park) and half a mile on you’ll come to the Country Park on your right.

Turn right into Muiravonside Country Park. Drive right up the magnificent drive way, past the overspill (woodland) car park on the left , to the main car park and turn in left for cars as directed. The journey from Glasgow is exactly 35 miles and should take about 40 minutes.

Toilets: there are two sets of toilets at the main car park: the nearest are at New Farm next to the car park; the others are at the café which, in fact, you walk past on the walk. 

From the main car-park walk back down the main driveway to a substantial signpost pointing left along a good track towards Candie. Turn left here and, ignoring a signpost directing walkers back to the river, continue on to an unnamed, unmarked path above the farm of Redford. This unnamed path is best noted by the angle of the track, which is marked, to the left. On the map it looks as though there is no continuing path but in fact a good path curves round and down just above the farm. It joins the official route along the River Avon just above the river. Turn left here to make your way down a steep, muddy slope. (You may find it easier to keep to the fence until you reach the river.) At the bottom turn left to  follow the river through a delightful meadow and then through the steeply wooded section of Carriber Glen. The exit is barred by a landfall and you are, gratefully, directed up to the café and toilets. You continue above the river stopping to admire the ‘Owl’ bench and owls in the tree which are part of the ‘Art in the Park Trail’. Go through the Stirling family cemetery which is strangely moving. The path slopes down eventually, joining an old mill lade, and coming,as directed, to the old Mill and the Park offices.  Continue along a particularly beautiful stretch of the River Avon to the magnificent aqueduct towering above you. Steep steps take you up the considerable height to the Union Canal towering above you. At the top you turn back on ourselves to the canal. Once on the canal bank,  turn right towards Falkirk and away from Linlithgow but if you’ve never been here it’s worth walking back along the aqueduct to admire both the river below and the engineering miracle.

You now follow a metalled path along the canal bank, passing Bridge 49. Pass a canal inlet with tied up barges. Note when you come to Haining Bridge since this will be the return route for those opting out. However, it is well worth continuing  to Muiravonside Kirk. This is hidden to the right but is easily found at a small burn flowing over the canal path and into the canal. Just before this burn, there is a path over a broken wall with stone steps which takes you into the large car park at Muiravonside Kirk. (If you wish to avoid the additional 3 miles, turn back here and retrace your steps to Haining bridge where you can cross the canal and continue down along the opposite side. When you come to a junction of paths, continue straight on and follows the notes below.)

However, it is worth at least glancing at the cemetery, before continuing your way parallel to the canal path. From here there are fine views of Almond Castle. This little path soon rejoins the canal towpath.

Continue along the canal bank to Bethankie Bridge. Just across the road below, a fine set of steps goes down to the right on to the road. The road then goes under the canal by a narrow tunnel. This part of the road is also used by cars who exercise caution but who cannot see the tunnel until they are almost on it. Beware! Just under the tunnel, to the left, is a Public Footpath sign directing walkers through a gate and up through the woods. The path climbs to a driveway coming up from the road and into The Haining. Cross this driveway, following a public footpath sign. The path should go straight up the hill, but locals have struck off diagonally to cut off a corner. At the top, the official path comes in from the left and continues to the right but, again, the locals have continued diagonally. It all meets up by Parkhall Farm where you are directed by the footpath sign straight down and then to the right. This emerges at a metalled road with the path ahead barred for obvious reasons! On the metalled road, turn left and follow the road across the Manuel Burn.At the T junction, turn left and then, at signpost, cross the road and climb up beside some trees towards some houses. The first part of this path can be very muddy. However, as you circle round the houses the path improves and comes out on a lovely country road with views across the Bathgate Hills and towards the Forth Bridges. Pass signposts to Muiravonside (on the right) and Haining Bridge (on the left) both of which you ignore.

As you near the Union Canal a signpost directs you to the left and down on to the canal bank. There are three choices. One sign points back to Haining Bridge where the ‘Opt-out group’ will come in. Those coming from Haining Bridge will go straight on. One sign points to the canal which simply goes to the canal bank then back up onto the road. The third sign points towards Muiravonside and continues under the road. Those joining here will turn left at the signpost towards Muiravonside.

The next section is a delightful soft path along the canal but slightly above it. You soon reach a picturesque inlet where canal barges  are tied up. Some of the barges are residential. There are benches here to sit and admire the view. There are several paths leading back to the park but the best is to continue past this inlet with the barges, following a signpost to Muiravonside, which comes out in the car park of Bridge 49. Go up through the car park, turn left at the road and then, just before the bridge over the canal, cross the road and take the signposted track back into the park. At a major junction of paths turn right and follow the track back to the car park.

The Stank Glen

This is a lovely, and gentle, circuit of The Stank Glen below Ben Ledi. The steady but gentle climb up the track from the car park at Kilmahog soon gives you unexpectedly lovely views of Loch Vennachar to the south and then Loch Lubnaig to the north. You continue along a much-changed path below Ben Ledi to Stank Glen. Despite it’s off-putting name, Stank Glen, an alternative route down from Ben Ledi, has stupendous views both up to the rugged top of the mountain and down to the magnificent depths of Loch Lubnaig. There is a real mountain feel to this part. The path continues up over a mountain which can be full-flowing in winter but is which was just about navigable. The way back is a muscle-achingly long flat trek  along the Strathyre to Callander railway path!

Park at the Forestry commission car-park on the A821 just before it joins the A84 at Kilmahog near Callander.

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To get there, go to the roundabout on the A81 at Aberfoyle near the Rob Roy Motel. (To get there take either the A82 (Great Western Road) to Anniesland and then the A739 (the Bearsden/Switch Road); or the A81 (Maryhill Road) both of which take you to Canniesburn Toll. Here, take the A81 through Milngavie, Blanefield, Strathblane, Dumgoyne, etc. to the Rob Roy Motel and the mini-roundabout) At the mini-roundabout, the quickest way is to turn right towards Callander on the A81, driving past Braeval, the Port of Menteith, turning left with the A81 and following the signposts to Callander. At the traffic lights at the main street in Callander turn left; drive through Callander and just past the Kilmahog Woollen Mills, turn left on the A821.

There are TWO car-parks. Kilmahog is the one  on the left; a little further on is the less-frequented Bochastle car park on the right.

The walk

Depending on where you’ve parked, the walk begins either by taking the safe, off-road path from the Kilmahog car-park to the Bochastle car-park and going straight up the LRT (with the car-park on the right); or by returning to the entrance of the Bochastle car-park and picking up the LR to the right. The LRT gently winds its way up through the forest on a clear LRT. There are several places where the trees have been cleared and a quarry which you’re warned not to climb!

You reach a wider part of the LRT where trees were being cleared on our walk. This should be less muddy and more attractive when the forestry work has finished. On the left is a little hidden sign-post up to Ben Ledi. On the right is a new path back down to the path alongside Loch Lubnaig. It is raw and new but well-made and will soften over time. (This is a good escape route for those not wishing to go further. This path goes down steeply, but very safely, to join the track at Loch Lubnaig. Turning left takes you to Strathyre while turning right takes you first to the bridge at the Stank Glen car-park, where climbers for Ben Ledi usually park, and then on to Kilmahog and Bochastle car-park. At this point, anyone who wanted to do Ben Ledi should continue on up, and either come down the same way or walk along the ridge and come down the Stank Glen. But beware, Ben Ledi is a strenuous climb which will take several hours. It’s much further than it looks on the map.)

 Your walk, however, continues straight on, below Ben Ledi but high above Loch Lubnaig, with lovely views up to the mountain ridge and down to the River Leny and then the beginning of Loch Lubnaig. Stroll along the LRT to a junction (with Coireachrombie written across it on the map) where you take the LRT to the left which initially curves round left and then right and then straightens out to reach Stank Glen. We had lunch at a magnificent viewpoint along this stretch.

At the next junction you can go straight on to cross the burn and begin the descent. For those opting to go higher you turn left up another shortish climb, again on a very well-made path, up the left-land side of the Stank Glen. Both routes open out with a real mountain-feel under the ridge above you.

After crossing the Stank Burn make our way down the other side of the glen, dropping all the way. The LRT eventually comes out on the cycle track along Loch Lubnaig and back to the car, which is easy walking but, I’m afraid, sore on the calves! To relieve the tedium, at a concrete seat supported by railway sleepers, you can leave the old railway track and take a path closer to the river which will bring you out at the picturesque Falls of Leny.

 

Beecraigs Country Park

Beecraigs Country Park, full of picturesque surprises, is new territory for most Glaswegians.  The views from even quite small lumps are spectacular – mainly because of the clarity of the air and the positioning of the lumps (especially Cockleroy) with little around them to block the views. You can see as far as Arran and, of course, the Forth Bridges (nearly three of them) and Linlithgow lying below us. At first it seems rather douce for experienced walkers, what with surfaced paths, signposts, foot bridges and viewing platforms, to say nothing of a children’s adventure play area and an ice-cream van. But within 25 minutes you are wandering down attractive, less-peopled paths. It is making a detour through Witchcraig Wood to the only War Memorial in the UK which commemorates those killed in the Korean War (1950-1953) – a sobering number and mainly Scots. If you go  up to the top of the hill behind passing the Refuge Stone get tremendous views while the flat-earth-brigade can reach the memorials along the road.

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To get there

Make sure you park at the Visitors’ Centre and not Balvournie or you’ll be lost before you start. The Visitors’ Centre is off-centre to the north whereas Balvournie is right in the middle so it’s easy to confuse the two. You’ll find drinks, maps, ice-creams chutneys etc and venison to purchase and toilets here.

The post-code EH49 6PL works well with a SatNav and follows the route below. You may prefer to take the M8 and go north at the end rather than the M9 and go south. There’s not much in it. The following instructions go north and then drop south through Linlithgow.

Take the M8 east and then the M80 off left to Stirling, Kincardine Bridge etc. Follow the M80/A80 as per usual, until you come to the M876 marked Kincardine Bridge, Falkirk and Grangemouth. (Just before the blue motorway sign you’ll see the brown tourist sign for the Falkirk Wheel.) Take this motorway to the left: the inside lane goes off on the M876 while the M80 continues on towards Perth. About seven miles further on, ignore the M9 sign going north (on your left) and continue on for about a mile until the M876 merges with the M9 coming in on your right. It’s really very easy – just keep driving. When the motorways merge, the inside lane goes off to Kincardine Bridge so get into the middle lane and make for Linlithgow, Grangemouth etc. You sweep round Falkirk and make for Junction 4. Look out for the enormous horses’ heads (the Kelpies) on the Forth and Clyde canal. Leave the motorway at Junction 4 and come down the slip road to a large roundabout. Go right round the roundabout ignoring a road to a ski slope, a slip road back on to the motorway and take the A803 to Linlithgow with a brown signpost to Beecraigs Country Park. Follow the A803 as it twists and winds into WestPort on the outskirts of Linlithgow. At the obvious, attractive hotel, the WestPort, turn right into Preston Road.

Drive up the hill for a couple of miles until you see a sign post to Beecraigs Country Park Visitors’ Centre and Beecraigs Loch where you turn left. Drive along the road and turn right with the sign post. The Visitors’ Centre is on the left about 300 yards down.

If you’re coming up from the M8 and Bathgate you come to the Balvournie signpost first Don’t take this! Drive on about ¼ mile to the signpost to the Visitors’ Centre.

The walk

Some of the paths are separated into walkers and cyclists, but many are seldom used and others appear to go nowhere. It wouldn’t matter if you got lost but if you want to do the walk we did you need to follow the notes quite carefully.

 Your walk begins by taking the surfaced path (Sutherland’s Way) from the back of the car park at the Visitors’ Centre. (There is a viewing platform here giving not-very-good-views of the deer park and belted Galloways (cows) but better views of the River Forth.) The path goes downhill, turns sharp right at some locked gates and emerges at Beecraigs Loch. Turn left along a path to reach the surfaced dam very quickly. (The tempting path going straight on again comes to locked gates!) Cross the dam, with picturesque views of the loch, swans, fishing boats and a heron, and go down the wooden steps to the surfaced path in front of the fishing lodge. Now continue along the opposite side of the loch until you reach a clearly marked beaten path on the left with a red marker.

The route now becomes more rural. This good path crosses a bridge, wanders onwards then runs parallel with a vehicular road which it soon crosses. Follow the red-marked route. (The first two paths on the left, marked on the map, go nowhere!). Your path comes to a sharp corner where two forest tracks meet. Take the path to the left. (There are two paths here marked as one on the OS map: it doesn’t really matter which you take as long as you cross a burn by a foot bridge turn sharp left on a wide path and then sharp right.

The path leads down to a junction of forest tracks where you turn left. Pick up, for a while, orienteering flags of white and red triangles. Continue to a sharp bend and just past this, to the right, is a clear path which crosses a bridge and leads down to a sluice gate and pond and appears to stop. It does continue, however, veering left, over a tree stump and follows a sort of assault course beside a murky burn! The path gradually improves, so much so that a bridge across said murky burn seductively leads you astray. If you reach the bridge, you’ve gone too far. There is a path about 20 yards before the bridge on the right. This leads clearly down, across a couple of easy windfalls, to the path along the boundary of the Country Park where you turn right.

The boundary path is fine – with deciduous trees on the right and views of open countryside on the left. These make a pleasant change from forest walking. The path meanders for ages, crossing a vehicular road and then continuing to a clearing where bikes obviously keep left and walkers can avoid the bumps and keep right.

The path continues to a junction at a kissing gate marked Witchcraig Wood, a private wood with public access. Go through the kissing gate, among wild flowers, and over a long, complicated stile! The mown path (at least on the reccé) goes down to a cross paths. The path opposite goes up the hill, eventually reaching a lower ‘top’ where there are signposts pointing to the real top and the Refuge Stone or down the hill to the Korean War Memorial. At the top there are magnificent views, and a shelter with stones from all over central Scotland. You can continue over the hill and down the hill back to the stile but you would miss the War Memorial. It might be best to come back to the lower top and then on down steeply to the Pagoda. You then have a choice of road walking or going back up!

Meanwhile, the flat-earth-brigade turn right along a mown path which emerges on the road. It’s about 400 yards left along the road to the war memorial.

After the War Memorial make your way over the hill or back along the road (your choice) to regain Witchcraig Wood and then re-enter Beecraigs Country Park. Ignoring the path along the boundary, keep to the forest track for a little way. On the left you are urged NOT to use the cycle track and indeed, a little further on and running more-or-les parallel with the first path is a newly-created ‘walkers-only’ path with blue markers. This climbs a little and then, at a junction with a cyclists’ route, goes left on the walkers’ route and out to the open area with a pond, meadow, climbing area, ice-cream van and car park at Balvournie. There are toilets here.

After a break you can make for Cockleroy Hill, signposted from Balvournie. The path goes straight to the vehicular road, crosses it and enters a car park. From here you go straight up the hill. After Cockleroy Hill return to Balvournie and take the main route back to the Visitors’ Centre.

A convoluted, cobbled-together route around a Pineapple

This is the most level walk you’ll ever do, notwithstanding railway lines and towpaths. With one gentle exception it’s as flat as a pineapple pancake. Note that some of the obvious paths on the map are private, the locals being understandably a bit uptight about irresponsible walkers, so you should stick firmly to public footpaths, even if this does mean a very convoluted route. The well-established woodland drives are beautiful and there are unexpectedly good views of the Ochils across the Forth. Many of the paths take you, depending on the season, between ripening wheat and barley. Dunmore is a well-known conservation village and the pedestrianised centre of Airth has many 17th and 18th century buildings. And then there’s The Pineapple! The area has an interesting history which you might look up on the websites below. The whole walk is nearly ten miles, but it clearly divides into two circles and you can opt out either at The Pineapple if you have a car, or in Airth where there is a fine church, old buildings, two pubs and three coffee shops! If you intend doing this it would be worth printing off some information about both Airth and The Pineapple.

Park at the car-park at the NTS monument ‘The Pineapple’. To get there:

This is the easiest of trips and at about 28 miles should normally take about 35 minutes. Take the M8 from Glasgow towards Edinburgh and then the M80/A80 off to the left, sign-posted Stirling etc. This is an easy and fast run. Follow what is now a motorway towards Stirling/Kincardine Bridge/Perth etc. for about 20 miles. Just past the road to Denny you’ll see the first signpost for the M876 to Kincardine Bridge. Keep in the inside lane and you’ll automatically go off on the M876 (while the middle and outer lanes go on to Stirling and Perth). The A905 is well-sign-posted from the M876 to Airth, Skinflats and Larbert. Go down the slip road to a roundabout and take the left-hand turn (first exit) to Airth. Go through Airth, past the Airth Castle Hotel, to where a brown tourist sign on the right points to the NTS ‘The Pineapple’ on the left. It’s about two miles from the roundabout. Turn left here and then sharp right up a dirt track. Go past a sign for Landmark Trust cottages and then turn right as signed for the car park. There are no toilets at The Pineapple (or anywhere else!) but you are surrounded by woods.

 

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The walk

Begin with a swirl around The Pineapple since that is what you have come to see! From the car-park, take the left-hand path which leads to a pond covered with green moss and apparently full of Great-crested newts which are being scientifically monitored. Already you can see the great Pineapple across the lawns but you’ll soon come out at the Gardens (private/closed) and walk down the main driveway to take photos. Then return to the garden wall, take a path which is little more than a mowing in the lawn and go through a gap in the wall on the left-hand side of the Pineapple. This woodland path takes you left around the Private Gardens and on to a wider forest track where you turn left. At a crossroads of paths continue straight on and to the dirt track you drove up, almost, but not quite, back to the car-park.

 

Instead of returning to the car-park take the track past the Landmark Trust notice and continue to a sign-post marking a path down to what is called ‘St Andrew’s Drive’ This great track sweeps round the grounds, with lovely views of the River Forth and the Ochils. At an unmarked track to the left it’s worth detouring to find the tower, just about visible through the undergrowth. At a T-junction turn right and go down to a gate across the track and on to the A905. Continue straight on past Dunmore Home Farm (Sutherland Estates) which bends down to the river. It’s worth turning in left here, across a little bridge to sit on the river bank perhaps for lunch. lunch. (You can go all the way to South Alloa but it was tricky and the bus back is only every hour. OK if you time the bus.)

 

Go back over the little bridge and take the river path to Dunmore, a picturesque conservation village. You ought to do a swirl around here! The path straight south from the village takes you back across the A905 and on to St Andrew’s Drive nearly to the car park. Here endeth the first circle.

 

The walk continues down the drive and out, for a few yards left, and then right on to the road. Then it cuts in again on a dirt track towards Airth Mains. At a junction turn left down towards the old part of Airth where you can stop to admire the Mercat Cross etc. Continue down to the A905, straight down Shore Road to the river again. Here turn right to take a dubious path along the river bank, which turns right again along a road to the golf course, the A905 and the entrance to Airth Castle Hotel. Take the little path on the left sign-posted to Letham Woods. At the end, turn right, and then right again to come back to the Castle. Go through the main entrance and turn left along a road which soon becomes a dirt track, again with extensive views. You’ll recognise the way back, straight on to the A905 past a prosperous looking Airth Mains Farm, down to the road, turn left, left again and then right up the track to the car park.