Doups Drove Loan
Start location: Tak ma Doon road (NS 735 815)
End location: Drumbowie Reservoir (NS 783 811)
Geographical area: Campsie Fells, Strathclyde and Lanarkshire, Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 5.8km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash! The Heritage Paths (Campsie Fells) Project is very pleased to announce that we have a lovely Campsies map leaflet showing this old drove road 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.
Start near the summit of the Tak ma Doon road between Kilsyth and Carron Bridge and head east along a fence line for about 500m. Head south for another 500m downhill along a double wall line; this typical of a drove loan in the enclosed Lowlands. Where the forestry is met, the drove loan turns east along the northern edge of the plantation to near Doups farm and a transmitter, then continues east through the plantation. Vegetation can be waist high in the summer and there are many boggy bits. After leaving the plantation, cross a field eastwards to pick up the double walled drove loan again to NS773812. From here, head north and east past Rashiehill along a farm track to meet the minor road north of Glenhead and follow this to Drumbowie reservoir. Alternatively, from NS773812, head south and east along a track across a difficult gully, and then along the boggy remains of the drove loan east to Drumbowie reservoir. At this point, the drove loan disappears under the west end of the reservoir, emerging at the eastern dammed end to proceed as a minor public road to the Head of Muir and Bonnybridge.
OS Landranger 64 (Glasgow, Motherwell & Airdrie), or preferably OS Explorer 348 (Campsie Fells, Kilsyth, Strathblane & Fintry)
This droving route is mentioned in legal documents dating back to 1739 and may have been enclosed around 1800 when it appears as Drove Lone on a plan drawn for the division of Denny Muir. The Doups Drove Loan also appears on a Banton estate map of 1805, bordered by fields with evocative names - Craigmuir, Craigduff, Stone Close, Siteasy and Berry Muir.
As the cattle were driven east along the Drove Loan, the drover will have been able to see Falkirk for the first time. His route onwards from Falkirk too was laid out before him - over the Lowlands to the Pentlands' Cauldstane Slap which takes the drove road south.
The route is depicted very clearly on a map of Banton Parish from 1805 where it is called Drove Loan. The majority of the route is lined by raiks, which are the name for the double dykes built to hem cattle in and stop them from trampling crops or wandering off and these dykes are consistently 10 paces wide except for a section in the forestry where the track widens considerably for some unknown reason, but possibly just due to the nature of the terrain. There is a gap in the raiks just to the east of the forestry, which was depicted as two dashed lines on the map from 1805 indicating that the dykes were not present along this section at that time either. This could be evidence that this was an informal droving stance where drovers could stay overnight and allow their cattle some rest and grass to feed on. It does mark a likely stance site considering it is only a short day's walk to Roughcastle, where the major Tryst was. This surveyor thought he could make out a line of rocks indicating the continuation of the road in this section but it is difficult to see being so overgrown.
There is another feature of note - a natural rock known as the Cloven Stone situated just to the south of the drove loan among the forestry. It is called the Cloven Stone because it is a rock split in two over millennia, which makes it look slightly like a hoof and there was some folklore about it possibly being the devil's hoof. Despite it being natural, it was probably an important place for drovers and travellers being at a point where there was once a fantastic view and having connotations of the product the drovers were moving. Sadly it is now well concealed in the forestry, so it took a lot of rooting about to rediscover, but it is still there.