The Darn Road
Start location: Westerton, Bridge of Allan (NS 787 980)
End location: Dunblane (NN 783 010)
Geographical area: Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk
Path Type: Leisure Path, Rural Path
Path distance: 3.2km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash: a flash flood in August 2012 damaged the footbridge over Cock's Burn. Our most recent report (November 2014) indicates that it is now passable, but caution will be required by people choosing to cross the burn at this point.
The Darn Walk links Bridge of Allan and Dunblane, following the east side of the Allan Water. From the bridge over the Allan, a road leads up the east side and begins to ascend. Some 300m from the bridge, a small pedestrian-width path branches off on the left (no sign) and leads at first past the back fences of houses then closer to the river, with fields on the upper right side. The path is earthy/grassy and muddy in places. After some 600m, at a point where there is a major wooded gully on the right, the path leaves the riverside and begins to climb. Shortly, a set of steps descends a sunken gully between rocks, a footbridge crosses the burn (Cock's Burn) and climbs out of the gully on the other side. The route then continues close to the river, past the end of a footbridge which crosses over the Allan Water at NS787990. Don't cross that bridge, but continue on the east side of the river, the route following the edge of a field. The major tributary-burn (Wharry Burn) descending Kippenrait Glen is crossed and height is gained through a long sunken section between stone walls. For the remainder of the route - almost 2km - the route follows a relatively level line along the length of the hillside, with open fields and later Dunblane golf course on the uphill east side, and woodland and the grounds of Kippenross House on the downhill / west side. The way is always apparent and there are no forks. Eventually, the route terminates by leaving the golf course and descends a flight of steps to the side of the old A9 just opposite Dunblane police station (NN783009), where there is a Stirling Council white-on-green sign reading "Darn Path".
OS Landranger 57 (Stirling and The Trossachs)
The Darn Road was an ancient trackway that local tradition says was used by the Romans. If this is true then it must be one of the oldest routes in the area. It did not cross the Allan Water at all, unlike the modern road which crosses it twice, and heads directly into Dunblane. By 1858 the diversion of the "Darring Road", although it was considered by then to be only a footpath, caused much local upset. John Stirling of Kippendavie closed the road by having a wall built across it, but each night the day's work was knocked down, allegedly by the same workmen.
The Darn Walk also runs between Bridge of Allan and Dunblane, on the east side of the Allan Water, taking a similar line to the earlier Darn Road. It has been said to have been developed in the second half of the nineteenth century to add to the amenity of Bridge of Allan. We are unclear whether this follows at least in part the line of the locally contentious diversion, but certainly two distinct routes can be traced on the OS 6" first edition mapping of the 1860s.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) regularly used the Darn Walk - it has been suggested that the cave part way along was the inspiration for Ben Gunn’s cave in Treasure Island.
With particular thanks to Ron Page in Forth Naturalist and Historian, vol 31.