Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Ochils and Menstrie Glen

I was surprised to see the stars twinkling in the sky when I awoke this morning. I have been following the weather forecast and had expected a cloudy overcast morning. I didn't need any other excuse to put on my walking boots and head for the hills with the dog.

I decided to go back to re-visit the ruined farmstead of Jerah but this time approach from Menstrie and do a circular tour of the glen. I had read that at one time there were around 25 crofts farming this area but now it is uninhabited. Jerah was the last to get abandoned in the 1960's.

I started walking up the twisting farm track that I followed when I went to the top of Colsnaur Hill a month back. It was a beautiful morning with a low sun setting the dead bracken afire with golden light.

Dumyat is now begining to look very familiar to me from this angle. The deep ravine of Menstrie Glen separated me from the hill but I could clearly see the cleft of my return route slashed diagonally across its eastern slopes.

The steep track quickly gains height and offers some great views over the industrial plains of the eastern central belt of Scotland.

I kept Holly on the lead as this is sheep country. Farming the land with plough and crops ceased long ago ... around the end of the 18th century ? I was looking for the ruins of some of the old farmholdings.

This photograph shows the area known as Menstrie Glen. I had to navigate round the burns which cut the deep ravines that form the glen. The farmstead of Jerah is in the dark strip of trees below the distant Loss Hill.

Three burns, imaginativly named First Inchna Burn, Second Inchna Burn and Third Inchna Burn flow off the slopes of Colsnaur Hill into Menstrie Burn. This is a photo of the Second Burn with Dumyat in the distance.

An old tree standing on its own gave away the location of one of the ruins I was looking for. I wondered what stories that tree could tell about the place.

This farmstead must have had lovely views over the central belt and they would not have been spoiled by the Grangemouth Oil Refinery when it was inhabited.

I had now reached the steep slopes of the Third Inchna Burn at Red Brae. I could see another ruined croft on the other side of the ravine.

It looked in a better condition than the first ruins I came across at the Second Inchna Burn. I presume it was inhabited until much later. The summit and ridge of Colsnaur Hill had a light dusting of snow. The sky was darkening and I could sense more snow in the air.

It was now downhill to the approximate half way mark on my walk. The farmstead of Jerah was abandoned until the 1960's and its gable ends were still standing. Lossburn Reservoir shimmered coldly in the background

A photo of one of the outhouses of Jerah. The farm had been built in a lovely setting but I guess it just became too remote and difficult to operate for its owners when things like electricity and running water fed all the houses in the surrounding villages.

There are a few more ruins not too far from Jerah but the looked as if they had been abandoned much earlier. However it is clearly evident that there was quite a large community working and living in the glen in days long gone.

As I wandered back along the farm track on the other side of Menstrie Glen, I wondered what the glen would have looked like several hundred years ago. I also wondered if in another few years ... will it be planted with Windfarms and Pylon routes :(

I enjoyed my morning exploring in Menstrie Glen and so did Holly. Its her longest walk to date at 5 miles and climbing 1000 ft. She will soon be fit enough to see the windfarms already planted on the Ochils. They are an eyesore but I guess without electricity in the towns.. there would be a lot more abandoned homes.


blueskyscotland said...

I,d hate to see the best parts of the Ochils covered in wind turbines.There is nothing like the hillfoot glens steep walls of rock and grass anywhere else in Scotland.

Donny Wilcox said...

It would be a sad day to have any more put on the top..but I think I read somewhere that they are thinking about it ?

I agree the Ochils are a very special place and Im lucky they are on my doorstep. A quick trip up Dumyat is getting to be a popular almost daily walk for the dog :-D