Walking Report – Ben Cleuch Circular

After a few weeks of not being able to get out and about, due to bad weather, we decided to give ourselves a bit of a challenge and get some proper hillwalking in. As it was getting towards the end of January, we were both a bit strapped for cash, so decided to stay local and visit the Ochil Hills. We’ve both climbed some of the hills there before, but never Ben Cleuch, the highest point in the hills at 721m.

So, off we went on a foggy saturday morning. We decided to follow the route described in Walk Highlands. We arrived at the Mill Glen car park at about 10am.

Mill Glen itself was pretty stunning, with lots of small waterfalls and bridges along the route. I suspect a few weeks ago, during the cold spell, it would have been amazing to look at, filled with icicles. As it was, there was plenty of ice on the ground, and on the steps, making the walking a little bit more treacherous than either of us would have liked!

One of the bridges in Mill Glen

Once out of Mill Glen, there’s a little steep section leading to a wooden bridge which takes you over the burn and onto the path up to The Law. After an initial section of scrambling (much to Janie’s disgust – scrambling really isn’t her thing!), we appeared on a steep grassy path.

Now, when I say steep – I really do mean it! Bearing in mind, neither of us have done any hills for months (in Janie’s case, years!), this slope really was hard work. I think we managed to get overtaken by at least 4 different groups on the way up the hill. However, some of the views on the way up were just stunning. I have to admit, I liked the fact that we were walking on a foggy day. I knew that if we got above the fog, the views would be amazing, as I hope the photos below will show.

Just above the Fog
The view from The Law

We did make it to the summit of The Law (we fought The Law, but The Law didn’t win this time! :-)) eventually, and I think it’s fair to say that Janie in particular was feeling a bit the worse for wear as a result, which didn’t work quite as well with me being all of a sudden full of energy! I managed to contain myself and we walked together towards Ben Cleuch. The walking was much easier going now, with significantly less gradient to contend with. It didn’t take us long until we reached the summit of Ben Cleuch, where we stopped for the obligatory photos at the trig point (shown below) before setting off again.

Janie at the summit of Ben Cleuch
Grahame at the summit of Ben Cleuch

I feel it necessary to point out at this stage that this was the first Graham Janie has managed to climb, and the highest hill she has ever climbed, so not a small achievement for her, really!.

We didn’t hang about long at the summit, and were quickly off on the path round to Ben Ever. Janie really was feeling the worse for wear at this point, but we agreed it would be easier on her to carry on than it would be to go back the way we came. There is a path that skirts round Ben Ever and avoids the summit and also a path which takes you to the summit. Janie decided to take the easier route, avoiding the summit, whilst I ran up to the summit and back down the other side to wait on her (yes, ran – I did mention I was full of energy! 🙂 ).

The going was relatively easy for me along the next section, as it was reasonably level ground. It wasn’t quite so easy for Janie, however.

After a while we started the descent back down to Mill Glen. There were a couple of steep bits of descent, but in general it wasn’t too bad. That was until the last section before you got to Mill Glen itself. The walking wasn’t that steep, but it did remind me of my fear of heights. Call me strange, but I don’t particularly enjoy walking on a path which is about a foot wide, with a gorge on one side of me that I could fall into at any moment! As we were coming back into the fog, that didn’t help, either… I prefer to be able to see the drop, rather than a bottomless chasm of fog!

So, Janie got to have a laugh while I tried to hug pretty much everything going down this section – luckily, it didn’t take too long to complete, then we were back in Mill Glen, retracing our steps to the car.

It was a good walk, and I’ll definitely be doing it again, though I think it’s fair to say that we both felt the worst for wear for a couple of days afterwards. My calf muscles were complaining at me for some time! I’m really glad we don’t have to cope with slopes as bad as the one up The Law when we do the West Highland Way in April!

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