While pounding the pavement on my local dog walk route, I couldn't help notice that the bluebells were now in full bloom in a small wooded section of the walk. That made me wonder if there were any bluebells to be found on the Ochil Hills ?
If there were any, I thought Woodhill would be the obvious place to see them as bluebells like old wooded ground and Woodhill is about the only decent woods on the Ochils. I also thought it would be the perfect place to see if I could hear my first Cuckoo of the year.
These bluebells are in the woods near my house
Woodhill sits behind Alva next to The Nebit and there is a good car park in the Woodland Park area. Its part of the Clackmannanshire Path Network
There are some big houses in the Estate. Perhaps they once belonged to Sir John Erskine ? He owned the estate land around the 1700's and discovered one of the richest silver mines in the UK in the glen beside Woodhill. The money raised from the silver was used to fund the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715. This is the Stables
It was a lovely morning and spring was in the air. The trees are budding and turning green. I walked the dog along the many paths that weave through the estate.
Plenty of moss and lychen grew on the rocks among the trees but there was not a sign of a bluebell anywhere.
We followed the path as it twisted and turned, started to climb up the hill. I was straining my ears listening to bird songs. Plenty of sparrows and other types of birds were singing happily in the sun.. but not one cuckoo
The path finally broke free of the trees and I was on the open hillide above the Silver Glen. I presumed the silver mines were below me and I wondered if there were any signs of them left. I made a mental note to explore the lower reaches of the glen on my way back to the car.
I began the steep grassy climb up to the top of Woodhill. Beautiful views opened up towards Stirling. I could see heavy rain showers in the distace but it was dry on the hill.
At the top of Woodhill are the remains of an ancient forest of Scots pine but still not a sign of a single bluebell.
Holly and I stopped and lay on the grass in the warmth of the spring sun. Although there were heavy showers all around..we felt we were in heaven on our hill
I could have happily fallen asleep in the long grass ... until I suddenly jumped up. I saw the first tick of the year crawling across my trousers towards my waist. Time to go Holly ..... I hate them.. they suck blood and can give lymes disease although I often find them with their heads stuck in my flesh after a day on the hills
On the way back to the car..I remembered to hunt around in the lower reaches of Silver Glen. I found two Adits (Mine entrances) They were closed by a low iron fence which I could easily clamber over but I heeded the warning signs. I had read that one of them has a very deep winze not far from the entrance. A winze is a vertical shaft and can be hard to see in the dark... I wasn't going to fall down one. Besides..the mines can be very dangerous with poisonous gasses... I want to see more springs arrive so left without exploring further .. Im not cuckoo :-D
Ah well.. I know spring has finally sprung when I start seeing ticks.. but I have still to hear my first cuckoo of the year