Start location: Allanfauld, by Kilsyth (NS 717 788)
End location: Carron Valley Forest carpark, B818 (NS 723 838)
Geographical area: Campsie Fells, Strathclyde and Lanarkshire, Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk
Path Type: Trade Route
Path distance: 5.8km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash! The Heritage Paths (Campsie Fells) Project has produced a lovely Campsies map leaflet showing this old route and other paths in the area. To get your hands on one, simply send us an SAE c/o ScotWays (see address top-right) and we'll post one out to you.
The Chapman's Road used to run from Kilsyth to the Carron Valley, but forestry north of the Chapmen's Graves has long made that section of the route difficult to follow. We describe the old route here, but we suggest most walkers may be better to head east from the graves over the summit of Tomtain to reach the Tak Ma Doon road. However, we have recently heard (November 2011) that there are plans to clear a route through the forestry to once again enable walkers to more easily reach the Carron.
Description: the path shown on maps from NS717788 does not exist, but there is a gate at this point and it is possible to walk round the boundary fence of the field to a gate at NS716792 where there are slight traces of an old metalled road if you look closely. An ATV track goes to an old sheep fold and corrugated iron hut. From here an ATV track runs up to a gate to the left of the original line, but close to it. At the gate follow the wall to the right until you get close to the corner of the old plantation, then follow a bearing of 8 degrees grid to a burn coming from Garrel Hill, then 23 degrees to the cairns.
From the cairns, the original line followed the Slachristock Burn, swapping from one side to another, down to the (then) River Carron. It ultimately crossed the river in the vicinity of today's bridge to the Carron Valley Forest carpark. However most of this line has been lost to tree-planting and the reservoir. Once in the Carron Valley Forest, it is now far easier to pick up forestry roads and follow these down to the reservoir, dam and carpark.
If you wish to continue north to approximate the line of the Chapman's Road, taking a bearing of 358 degrees grid from the cairns will take you to the re-entrant where the burn runs north to Carron Valley Reservoir. The ground is very rough, tussock grass, reeds and left-over off-cuts of trees from recent harvesting all intersected by forestry drainage ditches, but once in the burn course it’s not too bad. Keep to the left bank of the burn for approximately 700m to reach the network of forestry roads.
Alternatively, from the cairns head east along the Campsie Ridge Route over Tomtain to reach the Tak Ma Doon Road. From that point another historic route, the Drove Loan, runs east towards Drumbowie reservoir, but that is probably a walk for another day.
Overview: there is no signage, paths or tracks until reaching the Carron Reservoir Forest roads. There is no path following the line shown on the old OS maps, but it is possible with the aid of a compass and with careful navigation to follow the line. Much of the ground on the southern slopes of Tomtain is very boggy and cut up by cows. On the north side it is replanted and recently harvested forestry which makes very heavy going, but it is passable. Please note that, due to the rough terrain, this route may take longer than anticipated.
Parking: it is usually possible to park in the Lennox Kilsyth Golf Club below the club house. If this is busy there is free parking at Colzium Park which adds 2km to the walk. At the north end there is parking at the Forestry Commission's carpark, which their website (Dec2015) states is open 7.30am to 6pm (to 9pm in summer). If taking the alternative route over Tomtain to reach the Tak Ma Doon Road, there is a carpark at the viewpoint just to the south.
Please note that the Carron Valley Forest has several popular mountain bike trails, including one-way descent routes and priority must be given to the mountain bikers. Take great care as some come very fast. A Carron Valley Walking Trails map is also available. Additionally, a multi-user photo-trail - from the Forestry Commission carpark thence along the south of the reservoir - can be found here along with details about accessibility.
OS Landranger 64 (Glasgow)
A Chapman or packman was an itinerant trader who would visit householders selling wares or services and, in the days before supermarkets, they were hugely important to the running of households.
The route is known as the Chapman's Road because the graves of two Chapmen or pedlars are located to the west of the summit of Tomtain. The story goes that one of the two Chapmen murdered the other and was later executed and buried next to his victim. This may be true, but interestingly it does follow a trend of stories where Packmen or Chapmen are murdered. In any case, it certainly implies that this path was used by traders.
It is not clear why Chapmen would be using a route parallel to the Tak Ma Doon but it may be because they were trying to visit all of the hill farms to sell their wares. The Tak Ma Doon is also a very old road linking Stirling with Kilsyth and this may have been tolled at one time but we've found no evidence of tolls on the Tak Ma Doon yet.