Walk with the Courier: Knock Scalbert fort

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Steep on all sides, Knock Scalbert hill occupies a commanding position about two miles from Campbeltown.

It is easy to see why ancient peoples would have built a fort on top of its slopes, which dominate views north from shore-side in the town.

There are two relatively simple approaches to the hill, which gives its name to a Campbeltown Grammar School house.

The approaches can be combined, for an approximately three-and-a-half hour hill walk from Campbeltown, which can be completed in either direction depending on the time of day and season.

The walk combines urban, man-made wild landscape and a remote summit with outstanding views to the Isles of Arran, Davaar and Ailsa Craig, as well as distance views into Campbeltown.

Taking the route anti-clockwise, late on an August Sunday afternoon, during the walk up High Askomil, mowers can be heard buzzing and a few cars pass till the turning point, up the tarmac road, to the radio aerial.

Leaving the aerial, heading slightly west of north, a steep descent leads to a marshy valley, where a surprised deer headed away uphill.

Gorse and green ferns, just turning colour, cover the ground, interspersed with wild flowers, such as Grass of Parnassus Parnasia palustris.

Beyond  a steep pull, taken initially on the right to the edge of a burn and across right leads back onto the ridge.

There are spectacular views in all directions except north where the summit slopes appear as a continuation of the ridge.

This is deceptive as there is a steep sided ‘U’ shaped valley with about a 75- foot drop before a re-ascent to the summit cone.

An Ordnance Survey trig marker crowns Knock Scalbert’s highest point 216m (708ft) from which there are magnificent views in all directions.

Piles of stones seem to indicate the hill’s previous role as a fort but may be the remains of walls.

Below, two reservoirs, Aucha Lochy and Knockruan Loch are visible.

The route continues down the west ridge to a Landrover track which leads to the Balegreggan Scottish Water treatment works.

There is a stile in the fence just in front of the Aucha Lochy dam. Despite two days and a night of rain last week the water level remains well down.

The dam is crossed to reach the track to Whitehill farm, which is derelict, and on to the Ballywilline lane and the route’s end at the A83 pavement.

In an emergency the simplest descent from the summit would be south-east, leading to a dip and due west to the Knocknan loch track and the Balegreggan waterworks.

No doubt hill runners will race up Knock Scalbert but stout boots, a waterproof, picnic and a drink would make for an enjoyable walk, plus a map and compass, and the ability to use them.