Balthayock Hill (NO 189240, 219m)
Unnamed Point (NO 191237, 208m)
Unnamed Trig Point (NO 193231, 184m)
Glencarse Hill (NO 185227, 182m)
Pawns Hill (NO 180229, c.125m)
Goukton Hill (NO 180218, 99m)
Pans Hill (NO 184216, 105m)
387m of ascent
You’ll have spotted that I’m having difficulty coming up with descriptive names for some of these wanders in the Braes of the Carse. I’ve called this one the Glen Carse Tour because it explores the hills on either side of Glen Carse—the steep scarp centred on Glencarse Hill in the north, and the gentle ridge of Pans Hill in the south.
I approached them in a roundabout way, however, starting from a flat pull-off beside a field entrance at NO 181243, just north of the cottages at Craignorth. From there, I walked through the open gate of the field. A gate at the top corner of the field took me into another field, from which another gate took me on to the open hillside. From there it was just a stroll to the bare summit of my first hill, which is unnamed on the OS map, but which the folks over at the Database of British and Irish Hills have named Balthayock Hill for convenience, presumably because of its proximity to Balthayock Wood. A multitude of tree stumps attest that the woodland once extended across this hill, too, but nowadays it’s a good viewpoint, particularly for the crags below the hill fort of Evelick, and for a glimpse of the Tay to the south.
From there I walked speculatively south. My plan was to aim for the high ground at the east end of the scarp face of Glencarse Hill—another unnamed summit, this one marked with a trig. point that seemed to be oddly embedded in old woodland. A partially ruined wall and sagging fence line were easily crossed, and I found myself on the tussocky summit of a very minor 208m eminence. The main point of interest was that it bore two of the chair-and-ladder-up-a-tree arrangements that I keep running into in the Sidlaws and Braes of the Carse. One of them was bedecked with camouflage netting, confirming that they’re probably set up for shooting birds, rather than fire-watching.
A stroll alongside another old wall, passing through pleasant and fairly open woodland (a roe deer plunging noisily away, only half-seen), a push into the trees using the GPS for guidance, and I arrived at my triangulation pillar. It had the forlorn look of all surpassed and abandoned technology—presumably the woodland was more open, or perhaps absent, when it was first set up, but now it was useless.
Then I headed westwards, aiming to come out at the top of the gully between Balthayock Wood and Glencarse Wood—an open vantage point from which I could plan my line to Glencarse Hill. And that worked well, the wooded slopes of Glencarse Hill appearing on the far side of a rather pretty (but stoutly fenced) meadow. Rather than try to cross the meadow, I took my line southwards, following an intermittent track that descended steeply into the gully. The mud bore only the marks of hooves and chunky bicycle tyres—no mere pedestrian would choose to take quite such a direct route down and then up again.
Glencarse Wood proved to be gorgeous open woodland with little in the way of undergrowth, and Glencarse Hill itself was crowned with impressive old beech trees, between which the Tay valley could just be glimpsed.
From there, I trickled westwards along another intermittent path, passing a splash of feathers where a raptor had recently plucked its prey. I skirted another little patch of meadow, this one full of grazing sheep, and conquered the tiny summit of Pawns Hill. The name probably has the same origin as Pans Hill, just across Glen Carse, but none of the suggested derivations seems particularly likely—a deposit for the loan of sum of money, a Scots name for the peacock, a chess reference, or a Greek deity mysteriously translocated?
From there, I aimed initially north, hoping to descend easily to the upper reaches of the Balthayock Burn, but I soon found myself on what seemed to be the remains of a broad woodland path. I thought this might take me somewhere interesting, but instead it petered out rather pointlessly among the trees, leaving me to descend (through more beautiful open woodland) to pick up what seems to have been an old driveway leading from a lodge in Glen Carse to Balthayock House.
It’s nowadays choked with invasive cherry laurel in its lower reaches, making it something of an adventure to push through in places, but it was probably once a fairly grand affair, to judge from the broken stone bench I encountered.
Eventually, after a bit of laurel-bashing, I reached the road in Glencarse. From there I could have walked back up to my car, but instead I walked only a short distance west before stepping over the sagging fence and climbing steeply up through a patch of trees to reach the open fields of Goukton Hill. There was a slightly awkward fence to cross, and then I was walking up past the poly-tunnel frames to the crest of the hill. Here, there was a large open area full of farm supplies, and another tiny summit, brightened and coconut-scented by flowering gorse. (The first syllable of Goukton is pronounced “gowk”—Scots for the cuckoo, though I heard none.)
Down into a very shallow dip, and then up to Pans Hill. There was a little fence-and-wall junction to negotiate (made easy by a few fortuitous gaps) before I reached the undistinguished summit among the trees, and then I hopped back over the fence-and-wall to reach a farm track that descended into Glen Carse. Three kilometres on tarmac took me back to my car, as well as giving me a glimpse of the current driveway of Balthayock House, which comes in from the west past a rather beautifully thatched lodge.