Unnamed Point 328 (NO 360408, 328m)
Unnamed Point 377 (NO 349408, 377m)
Unnamed Point 315 (NO 329419, c315m)
550 metres of ascent
Many of the Sidlaw Hills get their names from the farms that work their slopes—with the result that some hills, surrounded by farmland, have several names attached to their various aspects, and some significant eminences, remote from farmland, have no names at all.
Most notably, a 328m heather-clad viewpoint between the heads of Glen Ogilvie and Denoon Glen has no name attached to it on Ordnance Survey maps; and just across the Denoon Glen there’s another tree-covered ridge, 377m high, set back north of Scotston Hill, which also remains anonymous. Not too far away, in the complicated ground between Kinpurney Hill, Henderston Hill and Back Drum, there’s a low whaleback ridge about 315m high, covered by a strip of open forest. When seen from the north it’s an obvious subsidiary rise between Kinpurney and Back Drum, but it too lacks a name.
So my self-appointed task for this walk was to visit all three of these summits, in a trip that stitched together segments of several previous walks.
I started at the Balkello Woodlands car-park, and walked up to the (on this occasion) aptly named Windy Gates between Auchterhouse Hill and Balkello Hill. At the three gates, instead of going left up Auchterhouse or right up Balkello, I carried straight on, descending a clear path alongside the Haining Burn. Where this emerged on to a tussocky flatland, I got a clear sight of two of the day’s objectives—the 377m hill to my left, and the 328m hill straight ahead.
A vehicle track coming over from Piper Den passes very close to the 328m top—just a little heather-surfing is required to get there, and it opens up views into Denoon Glen and Glen Ogilvie, as well as along the length of the eastern Sidlaws to Hayston Hill.
Back, then, to the gate in the fence at NO 359405, and a track that lets down to a pretty little bridge at the head of Denoon Glen, which I’ve visited before. From there, I followed the track up the other side of the glen until it joined the north-south track that comes through from Auchterhouse to link to Denoon Glen. From that junction I struck straight uphill along the grassy stripe you can see left of centre in the photo of the 377m hill, above. There’s a fence corner at NO 353408 which is easily climbed, and then it was just an amble through the open woodland to find the top.
A faint and overgrown vehicle track comes up from the south, flirts with the summit and then descends again, linking with the main east-west track that runs through here. This track isn’t marked on the map (of course), but it’s a key link along the Sidlaws—it starts in the east from the Auchterhouse-Denoon track (previously mentioned) at NO 352404; takes a line south of the trees covering the 377m top, and north of the marshland below Scotston Hill; dives through a gate in the wall at NO 345409; crosses above Scotston Quarries, and then pops out on the forestry loop road at NO 342411, just next to the giant new wind turbine. From its western end, there are long views down the length of the western Sidlaws, and I paused for a while to eat a bit of chocolate and pick out the routes of previous expeditions.
From the forestry road, I’ve described how to get to the top of Henderston Hill in a previous post. This time, I just marched around the loop until I got to the firebreak path starting at NO 332416, which strikes due north to bring you out at a stile over the electric fence at NO 332419. This is the access point for Kinpurney Hill, which I’ve again previously described. It’s a pleasant little dip hidden away behind Henderston, with the tower of Kinpurney visible at one end, and the complexities of Back Drum in the other direction. Bordering it to the north is my third unnamed hill of the day—a low ridge with a Mohican of trees along its crest, which the Ordnance Survey doesn’t even have the grace to grant a spot-height. Judging from the last contour loop, it’s a little over 315m high. From its shoulder there’s a pretty view down into Strathmore, but (like the 377m summit) not much to see at the top except trees.
To vary the return journey, I dipped around the south side of Henderston Hill, leaving the forestry road on a branch path at NO 334415, then following a double row of fencing downhill to St Anthony’s Well, and a drystone wall back uphill to rejoin the road at NO 343412. The site of St Anthony’s Well on the map is a little unconvincing on the ground—it’s admittedly marked by a heap of stones, but they don’t look as if they’ve ever formed part of a structure. However, just over the wall there’s a nice little earth dam, a bullrushed pool, and (during my visit, at least) a very annoyed mallard duck.
And so back along the way I’d come, except now all the way to the Auchterhouse-Denoon track. I followed this south until it forked below Auchterhouse Hill, and then took the east branch. On the map, this is shown petering out in the middle of nowhere, but it actually continues right around the hill and drops down to Windy Gates, completing my loop.
Apart from a few buzzards and a glimpse of deer’s ears silhouetted on the horizon, this was a pretty poor walk for wildlife. But I did meet a pair of women who were stringing together Auchterhouse, Henderston and Kinpurney, the first time I’ve ever run into anyone in that section of the Sidlaws. I knew someone had to be walking all these unmarked paths, though!