Ben Gullipen is a little hill that overlooks the town of Callander where I work. Although I’ve climbed many of the nearer, taller hills and mountains close by, I had not yet made the most of this diminutive destination. I knew it to be a popular and easily accessible walk, particularly with fell runners and dog walkers so it seemed like a fine choice for an adventure, given the sunny but shorter day.
I parked on Invertrossachs Road and made my way up through Coilhallon Woods. I love these woods – I’ve seen deer, red squirrel, jays, buzzards, frogs and toads here, even a dubious glimpse of a pine marten, but today it was smaller birds braving the cold. The path slopes upward past windblown trees, and several old, dead trunks that remain upright, spiky and leafless columns pitted by the holes of hungry woodpeckers.
The route winds upward through conifer plantations, and a little negotiation is required to ensure the correct forestry paths are followed toward the summit. Closer to the top the terrain opens up to heather-clad moor, and the summit comes into view again.
It’s not the prettiest of summits – there is a fenced-off congolmeration of electrical units and masts resembling a military outpost – but the surrounding views are amazing for such a small hill and really show the contrast between the Lowlands of Scotland the Highlands caused by the Highland Boundary Fault Line.
The eastern aspect stretches past the relative flat terrain of Stirling towards Grangemouth and Edinburgh, and at maximum zoom I could even photograph the Forth rail bridge and the new road crossing currently under construction around forty miles away.
The western and northern views are more impressive, and sweep across much of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and many of it’s most popular lochs and hills. While Loch Lomond itself is hidden from view, three lochs are visible; Loch Venachar, in the foreground below, then Loch Achray, and finally a small glimpse of Loch Katrine. I’ve climbed many of these hills and mountains, and it’s always a pleasure to see them from another angle.
It’s a challenge to the hillwalker to attempt to identify as many of the distant peaks as possible, something I’m still not very well practised at. The Peakfinder app installed on my smartphone works wonders for this and allows a great comparison with photographs later to check accuracy. See if you can match up any of the hills above with the reference below – it’s not easy!