On Sunday we explored another area of Scotland that was new to us – Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire. It’s just on the other side of the Forth estuary from us, and it turned out to be well worth the effort.
I’d seen photos of Dollar Glen, and I’d heard a little bit about Castle Campbell, which stands above the town of Dollar. But when I read somewhere that Castle Campbell was once known as ‘Castle Gloom’, and that it is flanked by two streams called the Burn of Care and the Burn of Sorrow, I really couldn’t resist!
Dollar Glen is enchanting… you can walk on paths and boardwalks high above a gorge where waterfalls plunge into inky pools and hazel trees stretch out their fronds over the abyss. The perpetual shade is punctuated occasionally by shafts of sunlight on the greenest of moss. You can breathe the energy in the mist-laden air. It’s wonderful.
Built in the early 15th century, Castle Campbell stands just clear of the woodlands, and its ramparts give the most spectacular views of the Ochil Hills, and south across the Firth of Forth to the Lothians. We took a good look around, and I’ll file a detailed report soon on The Hazel Tree (I’m collecting a nice little to-do list here!)
If you’re wondering what Colin is doing in this photo, he’s photographing a dragonfly. He can spot interesting small things at 100 yards, and he was lucky because it had just emerged and was still drying its wings.
There was no one else there, except me and a cute rabbit. The rabbit wasn’t asking questions, and in fact I managed to creep up on it as it munched away on the grass.
We wandered further along the gorge trails after we’d looked around the castle, noticing the first hints of autumn colour in the leaves and trying various contortions in order to photograph the waterfalls. Then we followed the path up onto the open hillside, where a dor beetle had obviously been waiting for its turn in the limelight. How beautiful they are – jet black, brushed with neon turquoise and ultra-violet. (He’s less than an inch across, this is an enlarged photo!)
A bit further on, Colin managed to photograph a grasshopper and an ‘instar’, which is one of its larval phases. He was very pleased with himself, but nearly came a cropper when he accidentally slipped and put a leg into the Burn of Sorrow.
It was really lovely up there, and I was intrigued by the low bracken-covered hills, shaped like cones. I think they are glacial features. Hmm, interesting! A bit of research is needed.
After that, we walked back down to the car and took a detour north, finding ourselves in a village called Dunning. As I glanced at the church, the sight of its yellowish stone tower rang a bell – the vision of a Pictish cross concealed inside, so near and yet so far, flashed into my head and I suddenly remembered visiting about six months ago, in search of treasure, and finding it was locked.
Not so this time! St Serf’s Church was open, and there was the 9th century Dupplin Cross in all its magnificence.
I won’t spoil things by telling you stuff about the Dupplin Cross that I’m presently going to be telling you on The Hazel Tree. But it is absolutely wonderful. You could write a book just about the carvings.
A lovely day out, to places that are surprisingly close to home. When we got back, Purdey was just waking up from her first sleep and fancying a snack. It’s taken us this long to go through all our photos!
I’ll put up another post soon on The Hazel Tree, focusing on the flowers and insects that we came across in the gorge. Then, there’s Castle Campbell, and the Dupplin Cross. How can I squeeze more hours into the day?
Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf