Braes Of The Carse: Abernyte Circuit

Tinkletop Hill (NO 260304, 184m)
Gallows Knowe (NO 272311, 162m)
Rossie Hill (NO 277310, 173m)
Kirkton Hill (NO 260318, 253m)
Forehill (NO 243320, 250m)

16 kilometres
520 metres of ascent

Abernyte route
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Well, a look at the map suggests that “circuit” isn’t quite the right word, but I’m hard pressed to come up with anything better. This was a wander that started and finished in Abernyte, with the intention of taking in the significant hills around that village. Since it looked like I was going to be crossing farmland to get to some of my chosen summits I chose a frosty winter day—the crops would be in, and the inevitable mud of the farm tracks would be frozen solid.

I parked on a piece of waste ground just outside the village, and walked back down the B953 to a field entrance just opposite Milton Farm. The gate was wide open, and I could see my line to Tinkletop very clearly—up the hill along two field margins, turn left, and then another field margin to take me to the wooded top of the hill. The only slight difficulty along the way was a little, low, temporary electric fence, about a half a metre high, strung across the track. This was very easy to step over, apart from the inevitable hysterical instability induced by straddling a bare electric wire.

Approach to Tinkletop Hill
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Approach to Tinkletop Hill

Tinkletop sounds like it should be a geographical feature in the Shire, from Lord of the Rings, rather than a real place. David Dorward, in his book The Sidlaw Hills, offers two possible origins for the name. One is the possibility that the hill once bore a watchtower and alarm bell (though “tinkle” seems the wrong word); the other is that it comes from tinkler, a Scots word for a tinker or tinsmith. On this occasion the summit bore nothing but an impressively shallow-rooted windfallen tree.

Summit of Tinkletop Hill
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Summit of Tinkletop Hill

Down the way I came, and then back along the road into Abernyte village before turning right at the signpost to the church. The presence of the church explains the name of nearby Kirkton Hill, named for Kirkton Farm, the farm-toun by the church. It was on my list, but first I wanted to find a way into the Rossie Priory Estate, which surrounds Rossie Hill. I had my eye on the entrance, marked on the map, opposite Kirkton Farm, but this proved to be locked. So I wandered on up the road, and then turned into an open field that took me across to the saw mill at East Newton. A short distance up the Knapp road took me to the North Lodge entrance to the estate. I then followed my nose and the 1:25,000 OS map, going pretty much back the way I’d come except now inside the estate grounds, and walking along narrow forest tracks.

Forest track in Rossie woods
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Forest track in Rossie woods

The 1:25,000 shows both Gallows Knowe and Rossie Hill apparently completely enclosed by fences. Gallows Knowe actually turned out be encircled by the remains of an ancient wall, which constituted no barrier to reaching its heavily wooded summit.

Summit of Gallows Knowe
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Summit of Gallows Knowe

The top of Rossie Hill, however, is encircled by a deer fence—with an open gate in its south-west side and a disused track running up to the (again, wooded) summit.

Gate in the deer fence around Rossie Hill
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Gate in the deer fence around Rossie Hill

I followed estate tracks down to the West Lodge, and then headed for something I had noticed at the roadside as I walked up past Kirkton Hill—a wee gate and plaque announcing the Millennium Glebe Walk.

Millennium Glebe Walk
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This gave a direct line between the farm fields, straight on to Kirkton Hill, and then wound up the shoulder of the hill, past various strategically placed benches, then into the trees and eventually to within a few yards of the (wooded) summit.

Path on Kirkton Hill
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Path on Kirkton Hill

But at least there was a chance of a view nearby, where the edge of the woodland looked out over the fields towards the west end of the Sidlaw ridge.

Black Hill and King's Seat from Kirkton Hill
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Black Hill and King’s Seat from Kirkton Hill

I wove my way north-westwards, following the wall that separated trees from grazing land, eventually hopping over into the fields at an obvious crossing place, with a plastic tube threaded over the barbed wire, and a stone provided to step down on to. Then it was just a matter of choosing a line across the empty field to reach the gate at North Pitkindle Farm. From there I walked a short distance down the road to join the B953 again. South would take me back to Abernyte, but I headed west for my last hill of the day.

Forehill is another name assigned by the folk over at the Database of British and Irish Hills—the 250m summit is unnamed by the Ordnance Survey, and the name Forehill (“Front Hill”) is actually associated with a 233m subsidiary hump, enclosed by Forehill Wood.

I walked a short distance up the farm road to Pitkindie, and then turned through another open field gate. Following the field margins took me to the top of the hill, which is traversed by a field fence.

Black Hill from the summit of Forehill
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Black Hill from the summit of Forehill

Then I dropped down the other side, still following the fence, until I came down to the headwaters of the Abernyte Burn, near the farm aptly called The Ford. After following the field margin parallel to the burn, I walked through the farm yard and out on to the track that runs from The Ford all the way back to Abernyte. This used to be the main road connecting Bandirran and Abernyte, but now it’s a pleasant (and in places slightly overgrown) walk down the Whitehill Den and then the Whitehills Farm track.

Track through Whitehill Den
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Track through Whitehill Den

I was just reflecting on the fact I hadn’t seen much in the way of interesting birdlife, when two pairs of bullfinches, the males an almost luminous pink in the low sunlight, came down to take a look at me in turn.

“Stay there,” I said, reaching for camera. But they flew away.

6 thoughts on “Braes Of The Carse: Abernyte Circuit”

      1. No wind does make a difference – but as today here was 30C after a couple of 36C days it still seems cold to me!

        1. Ah, we’re basking in 5ºC and enjoying the thaw today, having spent the last week with sub-zero Siberian winds and dumps of drifting powder snow that have been shutting down transport all over the country.

  1. I’m wondering why there are so many places in the Sidlaw Hills named “King’s Seat “. Did a king actually sit there to hold court, is it a site of a kingly view , or is there a big rock in situ for weary walkers ?

    1. There’s actually only one King’s Seat in the Sidlaws, but it’s the highest point in the western end of the ridge, so it stands out in the background of a lot of my photographs from trips around the area. Its entry in my Sidlaws Gazetteer is here.
      No-one seems to know which monarch, if any, was associated with it. There’s a prehistoric cairn on the summit, and these were sometimes imagined to be the site of some ancient king’s castle or burial–as witness the legendary association of Macbeth with the hillfort on Dunsinane Hill, nearby.

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