Ochils: Glen Sherup Circuit

Innerdownie (NN 966031, 610m)
Whitewisp Hill (NN 955013 643m)
Tarmangie Hill (NN 943013 645m)
Ben Shee (NN 952039, 516m)

16 kilometres
675 metres of ascent

Glen Sherup route
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Contains OS OpenData © Crown copyright and database right 2018
Path data © OpenStreetMap contributors under the Open Database Licence

On my previous visit to the Ochils, when I walked in to Ben Cleuch from the north, I looked down on Glen Sherup from Ben Shee and thought that another enjoyable circuit could be made along its flanking ridges.

So this time I parked in the car park at the point where the Glensherup Burn flows into the River Devon, and took the track that heads southwest towards the Glensherup Reservoir. This track curves around Black Hill and then doubles back on itself below the splendidly named Gled’s Nose. (Gled is an old Scots name for the red kite—perhaps, under the current blanket of forestry, the ridge resembles a kite’s beak.) In the picture below, Gled’s Nose is on the right, and the track has curved around far enough to have me looking back across Glen Devon, to the prominent lump of Ben Thrush, in the distance.

Ben Thrush from Innerdownie track, Glen Sherup
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There’s a short-cut up on to the ridge of Innerdownie, which leaves the track just as it curves to the left on the side of Lamb Hill. It starts almost invisibly by diving into the trees at NN 971039, runs high along the steep north bank of Back Burn, and then pops out on to the open hillside via a stile at NN 974036. It’s a real shove through forestry in places, though, and if (like me) you are significantly allergic to pine needles you may well chose to walk a slightly greater distance, following the nice open route through the trees which is marked by a pile of stones to the right of the track at NN 974040.

Turn-off to Innerdownie on Lamb Hill, Glen Sherup
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The top end of this path emerges at a gate, from which I followed another path uphill towards the summit of Innerdownie, seen below in the distance above the conveniently placed bench.

Innerdownie from the northeast approach
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From the summit of Innerdownie I could look across Glen Sherup towards my final hill of the day, Ben Shee, and also along the ridge towards my next two hills, at the head of the glen—Whitewisp Hill and Tarmangie Hill. Below, Whitewisp is the round green lump at left, while Tarmangie is the conical summit in the middle, grey with cleared forestry.

Whitewisp Hill and Tarmangie Hill from Innerdownie
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Angus Watson offers Gaelic origins for the names Innerdownie and Tarmangie, both of which feel a little strained, but suggests that Whitewisp refers to either a “wisp” of late-season snow retained by the hill, or a pale patch of pasture grass high on its southern side.

As I strolled along next to the wall (and later, fence) that runs along the ridge, I was accompanied by a succession of wheatears, which fluttered just far enough ahead to make photography both tempting and nearly impossible, but which kept me occupied until I reached the gate just below the summit of Whitewisp—here seen looking back towards Innerdownie:

Looking back to Innerdownie from just below summit of Whitewisp Hill
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From Whitewisp’s undistinguished cairn, I had a view along the broad moorland ridge towards Tarmangie, seen below in the middle distance with the green lumps of Ben Cleuch, The Law, and Andrew Gannel Hill looming to its left:

Looking towards Tarmangie Hill from Whitewisp Hill
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The walk to Tarmangie was enlivened by skylarks. It seemed like two or three were blasting out their songs at any given time:

Just short of the summit of Tarmangie, I jinked through a conveniently placed gate, from the south to the north of the boundary fence, so that I could visit the little outlying cairn that gives a good view down Glen Sherup:

Looking down Glen Sherup from outlying cairn on Tarmangie Hill
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The true summit is a short distance to the southwest, at a corner in the fence-line, which is equipped with a handy stile.

I stuck to the north side of the fence, and descended westwards towards the col below Cairnmorris Hill. On the way down, I passed a man ascending on the far side of the fence, who shouted something to me that I couldn’t hear because of the wind. I looked quizzical, walked a little closer, and he repeated himself: “It’s quite windy today!” Yes, it was.

In the col, water drains either north to Glensherup Burn or south into the marvellously named Burn of Sorrow, of which I’ll write more in another walk report. There’s a gate in the col, and a grassy track rising diagonally across the slope of Cairnmorris Hill beyond:

Head of Glen Sherup, looking towards Cairnmorris Hill
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The track rises as the ridge-line of Cairnmorris descends through Scad Hill towards Mailer’s Knowe, so that I eventually emerged on to the track running downhill towards Ben Shee:

Track towards Ben Shee from Scad Hill
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Ben Shee is the little lump in cloud shadow in the middle distance. So now I was retracing the outward route I’d followed on my previous circuit over Ben Cleuch.

A long, slow descent followed by a short, steep ascent got me to the summit of Ben Shee, and a view down on to the Lower Glendevon Reservoir:

Lower Glendevon Reservoir from Ben Shee
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I followed the path that leads across the top of Ben Shee, which took me on to the track that winds down The Shank towards Glen Devon. Where I was soon surrounded by a cloud of butterflies. Eventually I found a few that were prepared to sit still long enough to be photographed and identified:

Ringlet butterflies on descent from Ben Shee
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These are Ringlets, and the origin of the name is pretty evident.

The track emerges at a gate on to the open hillside, and I turned immediately right to follow a path that descends steeply to the ribbon of tarmac servicing the Glensherup dam and its associated buildings.

Rather than walk down to the road (where I’d have to brave a few hundred metres of speeding traffic before reaching my car park), I turned up towards the reservoir.

Glensherup Reservoir
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From this point, I was able to stroll across the top of the dam, climb a short (but steep and heavily eroded) zig-zag path through the trees, and emerge on to the track below Black Hill which had been my outward route, about a kilometre from the car.

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