Today I am taking you all along on another of my favourite local adventures from Dundee, or well actually the place for a multitude of adventures – the Sidlaws. This range of hills stretches around to the north of Dundee, crossing Angus and Perthshire and reaching from Forfar in the east to Kinnoull Hill in the west. Since there are so many worthwhile hills, I have divided this into two parts, maybe even a third one later on, since I have yet to have explored every hill in the range. For this post, I am choosing the B954 between Auchterhouse and Newtyle as my boundary, looking at the hills to the east of this.
While some of the hills I mention are currently not much of a problem to visit under the 5-mile rule, others are too far to drive to. I wanted to include all of them for future readers and I have intentionally done the eastern, slightly closer hills first, but please check the guidelines at the time before visiting any of these hills to make sure you are within the rules, as none of these are within Dundee City.
While it is quite a small hill, the views out to the Cairngorms are pretty nice, and with the summit just a short trail away from the car park it can be climbed quite easily, and even the car park itself is a pretty nice viewpoint. Carrot does also make for a good cycle from Dundee, which is its main appeal to me personally. Dodd and Lorns Hill are also nearby if you want to make it a slightly longer walk and there are always many friendly dogs around.
Heading west from the smallest hill in today’s list, Craigowl is the highest in the Sidlaws, towering at a grand 455m above sea level. In case that sounds too easy for you, it is easily combined with some of the hills around, and if you go fast enough it can still be a great day out for anyone used to bigger hills. To get to the top there is either a road that loops around the back or trails from the car park at Balkello Woodland. I have even read that it is supposedly one of the hardest cycling climbs in Scotland, although I cannot remember it being too bad and definitely have been up worse. Either way, the views from the top down across the Tay and out to the Cairngorms are great.
Right beside Craigowl and also easily accessed by the Balkello Woodland car park, you will find Balkello Hill. For those without cars, the car park is not too bad of a cycle from town, the cycle home is easier and for anyone with a mountain bike, there are some nice trails around once you get to the car park. Bikes aside, the trails around here also make for some great runs. At the top of Balkello there is a plate with labels of everything you can see looking in any direction.
The next hill to the west, and the third of the commonly walked-together trio (add Balkello & Craigowl), Auchterhouse Hill is the former site of an Iron Age hillfort and standing at the summit today comes with the feeling of standing in the middle of a circle of trees.
A slightly less commonly hiked peak than the last three, but easily combined with Auchterhouse Hill, Scotston Hill lies just a little further to the west and makes for a slightly quieter hike from the main car park.
Another fairly popular hike, the attraction to this hill is the former observatory tower at the top. It is most commonly (and most easily) climbed from Newtyle, but can also be done from the Balkello car park with a longer walk. According to a local legend, a man once stayed in the tower for 7 years to win a £100 bet.
This is by no means a list of all the hills and there are quite a few more to be explored, these are just some of the more worthwhile ones in my opinion and based on where I have already explored, I will definitely be following this up with a second part on the western end of the range.