From its source in the Ochils, the 22-mile long Allan Water flows through Dunblane to join the River Forth just south of Bridge of Allan. I had previously walked downstream from Dunblane with Rhona, following the Darn Road, an ancient trackway thought to have been used by the Romans that links Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, then back by the west bank. This time, with Jimbo and two Springer spaniels, it was an upstream east bank walk to Kinbuck then a return by a minor road overlooking the west bank.
The upstream rise is only some 50m but, with many undulations on both path and return road, the overall climb is closer to 150m.
Although Ordnance Survey map 57, Stirling, covers the signposted walk, I recommend the more detailed local pamphlet, Dunblane Community Paths, available from the Public Library in upper High Street. Dunblane is readily accessed by a frequent train service so flaunt you green credentials.
Start from one of Scotland`s oldest buildings, Dunblane Cathedral, built on the site of a much earlier building which may have been constructed as early as the 9th century. David 1 established the bishopric in 1150.
A gentle climb up the Braeport leads to one of the oldest parts of the town, Ramoyle, home in the early 19th century to artisans especially weavers, and where many of the houses still betray their origins. Turn left by Northend Garage as signposted (public path Ashfield 1½ miles, Kinbuck 2½ miles) to reach the Scouring Burn which is followed for a short distance. Later turn right as signposted for Ashfield. The path gently rises then descends to the railway and the Allan Water, then passes under the massive concrete bridge of the A9 and into open country by the undulating river.
On our day a minor landslip had washed away part of the path but this can be avoided. We simply walked straight on. An underpass leads to the west side of the railway and a path junction. Ignore the branch to the left, Auchinlay Road ½ mile, and continue straight on as signed for Ashfield. Pass a white bridge over the railway and stroll through Ashfield, a model village built in 1866 to house workers employed in the mill. The mill started as a bleach works then converted into Pullars Dyeing Works before closing in 1975.
.Beyond Ashfield the path follows the line of the railway, albeit with a loop by the river, at this stage more like a canal. On reaching the Craigton farm track, a small detour may be required if the field ahead is flooded. It was on our day. Simply head east on the lane to reach the B8033 which has a pavement (apart from the bridge over the railway) and so into Kinbuck. At the north end of the village, cross the beautiful twin-arched and much buttressed Kinbuck Bridge over the river and turn left as signed Cromlix.
In 1813 a chalybeate spring was discovered on the Cromlix estate. The waters, impregnated with iron salts, were believed in those days to cure a variety of illnesses including rheumatism, alcoholic related diseases and depression. ‘Taking the waters’ became a fashionable trend and led to the building of a health spa resort, the Dunblane Hydropathic Establishment in 1878.... nowadays the Dunblane Hydro Hotel.
Follow the quiet Auchinlay Road which, being higher above the Allan Water, gives more panoramic views. Later pass under the A9 to reach the outskirts of Dunblane and over a bridge above the once railway line to Doune and on to Callander. Turn left as signed, cycle way 765, cross the Allan Water by the 1911 ferro-concrete arched Faery Footbridge, then bear right to return to the Cathedral.
Map: Ordnance Survey map 57, Stirling & The Trossachs
Distance: 7 miles
Height : 150m
Terrain: Riverside path and minor road
Start Point: Dunblane Cathedral
Time: 3 hours
Nearest Town: Dunblane
Refreshment Spot: Choices Delicatessen and Coffee Shop, 21 High Street, Dunblane