Tillicoultry is a small village situated in the foothills of the Ochils, about 5 miles west of Stirling and 5 miles north of the Kincardine Bridge.
This is a quite short walk, and while the pathways are well maintained, the walk involves a lot of climbing and loads of steps. No facilities on the walk itself, but pubs and cafes are available for refreshment in Tillicoultry.
The western portion of this walk was closed in August 2020, after heavy summer floods washed away parts of the path up the gorge. The eastern side is still OK.
For Satnav, the nearest postcode is FK13 6BE.
From Stirling, Take the A91 which heads north over the Forth, then turns right at the University and follows the foot of the Ochils. Follow this road through Menstrie and Alva to Tillicoultry. As you enter Tillicoultry, take the second left, which is signposted "Mill Glen". Follow this road right up to the top, where you will see parking for 5 cars on your left. If this small car park is full, try the street on the right.
From the M9, take the M876 turnoff for the Kincardine Bridge, then bear left over the Forth on the new Clackmannanshire bridge. Turn left at the 'T' junction, then take the second exit at the roundabout for Alloa. As you come into Alloa, you find a small roundabout, where you turn right for Gartmore Dam and Stirling Mills. Follow this road up through Sauchie, right into Tillicoultry. Turn left and drive through the town, until you see the right hand turn signposted "Mill Glen" opposite the Bridge Inn.
You can see a map of this suggested route here. This is a short walk up and down the glen, but it can be easily extended to go on up into the Ochils.
Assuming you park in the left hand car park, cross over the bridge then turn right into a grassy area by an information board. Follow the path beside the burn into the wooded lower part of the glen, then over the stone bridge and up a flight of steps. As you walk up through the trees, you wil see a large waterfall on your right, and the remains of an old quarry on your left.
The path continues up the side of the gorge, and crosses the burn twice, with the second bridge providing a dramatic view down the gorge. The path now climbs up a steep flight of steps, then crosses the burn one last time (for us) to the eastern side.
After about 50 yards, you will see a pathway heading off and up a little to the right. We take this path, but if you want a longer walk, carry on and cross the burn once more, then head up into the hills. So, follow the right hand path around as it follows the steep slopes on the left bank of Tillicoultry burn. Some care is needed here as there is a steep drop on your right down to the gorge. You will see other paths to the right, but keep on the main path and enjoy the views over the Forth valley. Keep following the path downhill, through a metal gate, and down some steps. At the bottom, turn right and that path will lead you back to the car park.
Tillicoultry has been settled for a long time as traces of a 'Druid' circle, sixty feet in diameter, were found in the eastern area of the parish at the end of the 18th century. These stone circles are more likely to be Neolithic and about 4,000 years old.
Before the upland area of the Ochils was drained, the boggy ground held water for a long time and provided a steady water flow to the streams which ran off it. This meant that Tillicoultry burn wasa good source of water power and so supported a textile industry in the town. Most of the mills are now housing, but one old paper mill is now used by Sterling Furniture. The mill owner's house, is now demolished, but I actually have one of the original cast iron fireplaces that once heated this residence.
There is a couple of quirky stories about Tillicoultry.
The name is supposed to be derived from the Celtic words Tullic Cul tir, which can be translated as 'The hill behind the stretch of land'. However, there is a much more interesting legend. A Heilander was taking a drove of cattle along the old road, and when passing through Tillicoultry Burn, none of the cattle took a drink. In astonishment, he exclaimed, 'There's Tiel a coo try', or Deil a cow dry, which promptly became the name of the town.
Quoting from Electric Scotland " A curious legend is told about the old churchyard of Tillicoultry, which is situated at the back of the mansion house. A wicked laird quarrelled with one of the monks of Cambuskenneth, and in the heat and excitement of the moment actually knocked the holy father down. Dying shortly after this, it was discovered next morning after the funeral, that the wicked clenched fist that dealt the sacrilegious blow was projecting out of the grave, and it was looked upon as a punishment sent upon him from heaven for his wicked conduct. However, as this couldn't be allowed to remain, the grave was opened and the hand replaced in it, and an end, it was thought, put to the dreadful apparition. What, then, was the good folks' surprise, on paying a visit to the grave on the following morning, to find the terrible hand up again. This was repeated day after day for a whole week, till the people were getting into an alarming state of excitement and terror. As a last resource, however, an immense stone was brought and placed over the grave, and now the hand no longer appeared. This stone was too heavy for the monks to roll away, and repeat the imposition they had evidently been practising upon these simple-minded and superstitious folks; and hence the hand now got rest. This legend gave rise to the old Scotch saying, when any one had given a blow, 'Your hand'II wag abune the grave for this yet.' This big stone, which proved 'one too many' for the monks, is still pointed out in the old churchyard."
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