Round Law (NO 232337, 257m)
King’s Seat (NO 230330, 377m)
Buttergask Hill (NO 230340, 307m)
330 metres ascent
This was a couple of hours of exploration, looking for a route to King’s Seat and Buttergask Hill that doesn’t involve traversing this section of ridge from either the Dunsinane end or the Gask end (a route I’ve previously described in one of my first posts about the Sidlaws).
As I wrote then, there’s a prominent vehicle track crossing between these two hills, but it peters out in brambles and barbed wire to the west, making it rather … um … challenging to get down to Legertlaw. The map makes access from Glenbran to the east look easy, and David Dorward describes that route in The Sidlaw Hills (which I’m going to keep recommending to you until you buy it). It’s a fine walk, but it does take you up someone’s driveway and then over their back fence. Writing in 2004, Dorward described the house at Whirly Law as “empty”, but I can only report that earlier this year there was paraphernalia laid out on the front grass that suggested the presence of a child and a horse. So I thought I’d take a look at the road up by Stockmuir, instead, to see if that blurred the boundaries between “right to roam” and “trespass” a little less.
I parked in a little roadside nook opposite the “tower” marked on the map at NO 249323. I’ve driven past this thing umpteen times, but never looked at it properly. It’s constructed of concrete, slightly ruined, and has the appearance of an agricultural silo with a decorative crenellation around its domed roof. Very odd. Canmore, my usual source of information about the mysterious buildings I encounter, has nothing to say about it.
Beyond the buildings at Stockmuir, the track marked on the map turns into an overgrown gap between fields—at one point I was pushing along a narrow trod through dead nettles and the tall woody stalks of some kind of umbilifer. It might not be the easiest walk in the spring and summer. The route can be circumvented a little by taking a parallel track along the edge of a field near the wind turbine.
Access to the open hillside comes at an electric rope fence. I’d never heard of electric rope until I did an internet search when I got home from this walk—I was a little bemused to encounter what looked exactly like a standard length of twine strung from electrical insulators. The line was dead as a doornail when I passed through, with a long stretch lying on the ground. But there’s a spring-and-hook gated section that makes it easily passable even if in good repair.
The track then transformed itself into a proper vehicle track again, running below King’s Seat, which took me up to a dilapidated gate at NO 231336. This is a good gate to know about, if you’re planning on linking King’s Seat with Buttergask, because it’s the only way between the two hills that doesn’t involve climbing over barbed wire.
I made a little side jaunt up Round Law, which gives nice views down Glenbran. On the east slope of the hill, beneath a lone tree, there’s an oddly shaped cast-iron memorial marker for one Iain Mallet of Glenbran. It’s a lovely spot—requiescat in pace, as Dorward wrote after visiting it.
From Round Law, I picked my way up through the heather on King’s Seat, along stream beds and deer tracks. For a hallucinatory moment I crested a rise to be confronted by what looked like two yellow spheres bouncing gently up and down in the middle distance. A long moment of incredulous staring revealed that these were the rumps of two deer, retreating at my approach, and otherwise perfectly camouflaged against the autumnal heather.
Back to the gate, then, and up an easy-angled track on to the round summit of Buttergask Hill. The name “Buttergask” always seems to have an English feel to it, to me, as if it has been imported from the Lakes or the Yorkshire Moors, but it’s Gaelic. Dorward derives it from bothar, “road”, and gasg, “wedge of high ground”—a ridgeway, in other words, and if you follow the ridge beyond Buttergask you’ll eventually arrive fairly easily at Gask Hill.
Back at the gate again, I noticed a rather purposeful-looking slot track heading off downhill on the Round Law side of the fence (that is, the other side from the vehicle track I’d followed up). I thought I’d follow it down to the forestry, to see if it offered an alternative route back to the car. But it was full of hoofprints and round animal droppings, and soon faded out on the open hill above the forest fence. Presumably deer habitually follow the same line through the narrow gap between the slopes of Round Law and the boundary fence.
So it was back the way I came. Not a perfect direct route to these hills, but I think the best available.