Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Bridge of Allan to Dunblane - Greenbelt - threatened by housing

Knock Hill bluebells

Bridge of Allan is a small town in central Scotland, one station-stop north of Stirling. It's linked by a beautiful set of landscapes -woodland, river valley, fieldy heathland & ancient hillfort- to Dunblane, the next station town. 


The Darn Walk:

No, that's its name.

It's a place I've known since childhood, a few times a year we'd walk Dunblane to Bridge of Allan by way of the Darn Walk, a many-generations-old pathway running alongside the Allan Water. We'd stop always at the little cave at grid ref NS 788 989, supposed inspiration for Ben Gunn’s cave in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and at a great rope swing on the other side of the water. And we'd look apprehensively for the whirlpool in the water, said to be the drowning spot of two girls, the vicar's daughters, centuries ago. At least, that's the story we always told. I don't think we invented it...

Full walk route descriptions here:

And an excellent .pdf map of the whole area here. Click on the map to zoom, takes a while to load.

Park of Keir, hillfort, woods, birds, bluebells:

More recently my mum ( and I have been returning on sketching trips, and with brother Roan to tell us about the trees. A few years ago we discovered the land west and upslope of the Allan Water. From Bridge of Allan station cross the busy A9 and go up the small country road just a few metres to your left (west). You pass a nursery and a few houses that you'll wish you lived in, and then you're at the start of grassland, farmland, Knock Hill, ancient hillfort, Gallow Hill, Park of Keir. Take an O.S. map and a picnic and properly explore.

At the right time of year the grasslands are full of butterlies, the Gallow Hill and Knock Hill woods wear a soft blue carpet of English bluebells, and the hillfort a carpet of wild primrose. There are many mature trees of many native species. There are deer, bats, red squirrels, hares, badgers and apparently signs of pine martin too. On our latest visit I counted 20 types of bird:

Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Collared Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Song Thrush
Coal Tit
Great Tit
Willow Warbler


Cafes etc:

After walking the woods you can either return to Bridge of Allan and its shops & cafes or you can continue to Dunblane by crossing the railway bridge at grid ref NS 784 995 to get back down to the Allan Water and its assortment of footpaths. 

In Bridge of Allan we recommend The Hideaway Cafe, & Collective Contemporary Art Gallery and Brown & Co delicatessen. In Dunblane we recommend Choices Delicatessen (the cakes!!!) and The Old Curiosity Shop & Mary's Meals Charity Shop for antiques, collectables, general bargains.


Threatened by Housing !

Unfortunately the whole of this area (not the Allan Water, but the rest) is under threat of major change thanks to a proposed development for executive housing, tennis centre, golf course, hotel, museum, football pitch.

Both Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Community Councils are against the plan, nearly 800 people have written objections to Stirling Council, and 175 people have signed a petition in the 5 days since it started.

If you wish to help protect this beautful patch, and the concept of Greenbelt in general, please do so by following all the links below:

petition -
the official documents -

ominous... (+ spot the Wallace Monument)

orange tip male (see on English bluebell

forest folk
Knock Hill trig point S4992, 104m

spot the fairy

sketch spot

spot the roe

mum sketching

pen in sketchbook

hillfort on left, Knock Hill on right
hillfort (spot the Wallace Monument)

hillfort primroses

*more* hillfort primroses

spot the great spot (ted woodpecker)

beech woods, my favourite

spot the ruins

Allan Water
David, this is an Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria?

never nice, spotting a trap

something bizarre to take your mind off that trap
same bizarre, different angle

something beautiful, in case your mind's still on that trap

Getting there:

Bridge of Allan is super-easy to get to by rail, with at least two trains an hour from Edinburgh or Glasgow, and one an hour from Perth. From Stirling journey time is only 4 minutes. 

From every direction the journey's a picturesque one. In fact the Perth to Bridge of Allan stretch is one of my favourite in the country, running alongside the Allan Water for many miles. There's loads of wildlife to be seen every time - deer, hares, waders, ducks, raptors.

Full timetables from ScotRail by clicking here.

crossing the rails, grid ref NS 787 985

An Adopted Station:

Dunblane is one of many Scottish stations to benefit from ScotRail's excellent Adopt a Station programme - on Platform 1 you'll find The Ironing Station. The name tells you what they do...

Adopt a Station enables individuals and businesses and communities to make use of previously disused station buildings, improve station environment, etc.

If you'd like to find out more about volunteering or adopting a station, click here for details.

Bridge of Allan, whisky barrel train. For more info see April 2015 post & click the link just before the photos start.

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