Accordingly, I got done what I needed to do today, quickly packed a snack and some water, and nipped over to Mill Glen in Tillicoultry, for one of my favourite local walks.
It sets off from one of the villages collectively know as the Hillfoots, where once a thriving textile industry existed, harnessing the power of the steep burns coming off the Ochil hills. Ben Cleugh is the highest, rising to 721m from sea level in around 3k. There are a selection of good paths, all steep, and one is currently sealed off due to serious rock fall a few years ago. Thankfully the local council are doing stabilisation work at the moment, so the dramatic walk down the gorge formed by the Gannel and Daiglen burns as they merge and form Mill Glen will soon be available again. For now, it means a small detour back up the gen before descending, no hardship in the glorious weather.
What I like is the wild feel of the hills almost immediately you leave the village, yet the proximity to all the industry along the Forth is a striking contrast. I particularly like night-time ascents, when the lights and flames from the refinery at Grangemouth look like a Devil's cauldron from the dark of the hill.
I intended to have a fairly quick ascent and descent, as I had no-one to pace me, and I usually go a bit sharpish. I was surprised to see a chap with his two collies hot on my heels, and fully expected to see them fall back, which they did. That said, as I chatted to a chap on the summit, he appeared again, and cheerily waved. Having finished my snack, I set off at pace, only stopping to tighten my boots and take my jacket off. When I looked up, there he was again, so this time I waited, and we walked along chatting.
Thankfully he was complimentary at my ascending pace, (as I couldn't have gone any quicker!), but his younger knees had me on the descent. Who says hill walking isn't competitive!? We shared each other's company back to the cars, and compared the changes to the path since I had last been up it. He even showed me some short cuts I hadn't taken before.
A lovely unplanned afternoon out making the most of the breezy but warm conditions, heavenly when midge-free!