The Knock at Crieff

The Knock is a small hill to climb at 278 metres, made smaller by starting at Crieff Hydro Hotel halfway up its side. It’s quite steep.

The hill is covered with lovely mixed woodland. There’s lots of beech, birch and oak; some pine and larch; rowan on the upper slopes with bright red berries; elder lower down; and a rather windswept apple tree near the summit, which probably sprung from a discarded apple core. There’s not many young trees on the hill, and I saw some introduced juniper just down from the summit. The grandest tree I saw was a fantastic beech, broad and eminently climable judging by the graffitti high up on the trunk.

About 100 metres from the summit, the slope levels off and the mixed woodland, bracken and grasses are abruptly replaced by moorland: heather covers the ground, broom and small birches are dominant. This gives a good introduction to the view from the top, North past the Highland boundary fault and into rugged country. To the West are more highlands, but to the South lies the fertile Strathearn Valley.

On Saturday the sun shone over Strathearn and 15 miles away the windfarm on the Ochils was turning at quite a pace. These interventions in the landscape are, to my mind, no more intrusive than the fields and villages. Looking from the summit, I could see straight lines of trees all across the valley marking field boundaries from way back. But these fields are relatively new, and would have been viewed as intrusive to the drovers moving South from Crieff in the 18th century. I think there has to be a recognition that no land in Britain is untouched, and one only has to scratch the surface of an idyllic scene to find human intervention, change and displacement.

Benchonzie and Comrie darkened and light rain came in from the North, but nothing that penetrated the woodland canopy on my walk back to the hotel.

The visitscotland website has a good write-up of the walk

google maps, centred on The Knock

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