Get a taste of the Highlands in this rolling forest on the shores of the Carron Valley reservoir. Enjoy an easy waterside stroll or family cycle ride, a blast through the forest by mountain bike or tackle the distinctive peak of the Meikle Bin for panoramic views over central Scotland.
These woods are alive with wildlife and history – discover standing stones, old drove roads and a reconstructed Iron Age fort, spot red squirrels and crossbills in the trees and watch for ospreys and waterbirds from the lochside hide.
Parking and picnicking
The car park at Carron Valley is open from 7.30am to 9.00pm in the summer and 7.30am to 6.00pm in the winter. Stroll across the little bridge beside the car park to reach a pretty picnic spot on a grassy island in the Carron River. There is also a small car park at the other end of the reservoir called Todholes.
There are toilets in the main car park, including accessible facilities, which are open year-round. Find places to eat, drink and shop at the nearby towns of Fintry, Denny, Carronbridge and Kilsyth.
Moderate - 2.8 miles / 4.5 km - Allow 1 hour
A scenic lochside trail with play features and picnic spots, ideal for a family stroll or cycle rideMore Information...
This popular trail blends sheltered waymarked woodland paths with safe children’s play features and spectacular views over the reservoir. There are plenty of places to sit, stop for a picnic and spot wildlife along the way.
Use the Fieldfare Trust’s Carron Valley phototrail for detailed information on access along this family-friendly route.
A mix of wide gravel paths and forest road. Some short, moderately steep sections. Includes a short stretch of boardwalk at the start.
Meikle Binn Trail
Strenuous - 3.2 miles / 5.0 km - Allow 3 hours
A rewarding walk, offering splendid views over the Campsies.More Information...
This trail is waymarked from the Todholes car park, but please note that once the trail leaves the forest for the open hill it’s no longer waymarked.
Initial stretches of gravel forest road lead to a grassy path with steep sections. Can be muddy.
Difficult - 1.7 miles / 2.6 km
This sweeping stretch of singletrack up through the forest is the ideal warm-up for the fun to follow.More Information...
Moderate, swoopy singletrack breaks up the gentle climb through the forest, and there are superb views across the valley from the viewpoint. The fast exit into the quarry through Stoney Broke sets you up for the ascent to Eas Dubh.
Starts at the edge of the dam. Follow the forest road out of the car park to the start of the trail. See the trail map for details. Singletrack climb. Includes track features like drop-offs and stony sections.
Difficult - 0.5 miles / 0.8 km
The ‘Black Waterfall’ is a dramatic descent that will test the skills and nerve of intermediate riders.More Information...
Catch your breath and admire the stunning panoramic views before you begin the fast descent of Eas Dubh (Ee-as Doo), the ‘Black Waterfall’. Take on the Kelpie Staircase, a steep stone-pitched section that’s not for the faint-hearted! Glimpse the waterfall on your left as you dance through the tight switchbacks of the Birling Bogills then fire round to the start of the Cannonball Run.
Starts at the top of the singletrack Pipedream section. You can also reach this point by forest road. See the trail map for details. Singletrack descent. Includes drop-off stone features and bermed corners.
Moderate - 0.8 miles / 1.2 km
Shoot down the fast-flowing, swoopy singletrack of the Cannonball Run.More Information...
Enter The Breech then the Full Bore section, keeping your sights on the exit as you gun it round Recoil – a huge, bermed corner that is guaranteed to raise a smile. After the Recoil, bear right onto the forest road and follow it to the top of The Runway.
Starts at the top of the singletrack Pipedream section. You can also reach this point by forest road. See the trail map for details. Single track descent. Includes drop-off stone features, rollers and bermed corners.
Extreme - 0.8 miles / 1.2 km
An energetic and challenging place to practise your skills.More Information...
This freeride descent is packed with features, designed so beginners can roll the jumps while experienced riders can get some serious air. Experience Turbulence as you drop in, feel the speed through the Corkscrew and explode out of the Bombhole before lining up for the final approach. If it's your first time, we recommend checking out the features on foot before riding them.
Starts at the end of the singletrack cannonball run section. You can also reach this point by forest road.
Freeride style descent. Includes table-tops, drop-offs, a bombhole and large bermed corners.
Watching wildlife at Carron Valley
A host of iconic Scottish species make their home in this forest, including Scottish crossbills, red deer and red squirrels, as well as elusive pine martens and wildcats. In summer, watch out for butterflies in woodland glades, dragonflies near the water’s edge and ospreys fishing for trout and powan in the reservoir. Greylag geese can be seen here year-round and, if you are very lucky, you might spot a hen harrier overhead or glimpse a black grouse in a grassy clearing. There are hides along the reservoir ideal for bird watching.
Fishing on the reservoir
Carron Valley reservoir is one of the most scenic trout fisheries in Scotland. Stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout swim in the reservoir, which was built in the 1930s and is cared for today by Scottish Water. For more information, and to buy permits for bank and boat fishing, contact Carron Valley Fishery.
Mountain biking at Carron Valley
Fast, fun and purpose-built for year round use – the Carron Valley mountain bike trails are guaranteed to bring you back for more. The natural beauty of the area, combined with panoramic views, makes for ‘big country’ biking in the heart of Scotland, within easy reach of the major cities. There are 6½ miles (10.5km) of red-grade trails and ¾ mile (1.2km) of orange extreme freeride. Use the trail tabs and download the Carron Valley trail map to find out more.
Heading for the hill
The distinctive peak of Meikle Bin looms enticingly above the forest. It’s a steep climb up through the woods and onto the open hill to reach the summit, but well worth it for the panoramic views across the whole of central Scotland. Park at Todholes, at the western end of the reservoir, for the quickest way onto the hill. Be aware that the route is not waymarked , so you need to take a map and compass with you. Remember that even in summer the weather can change very quickly here, so be prepared.
History comes alive at Carron Valley
This landscape is rich in history. Explore the forest to find standing stones, old cattle drove roads and fisher paths and, near the western end of the reservoir, the remains of the 13th century fort of John de Graham of Dundaff, who fought alongside William Wallace. Park at Todholes, at the other end of the reservoir, to reach the fort. History is literally alive in the forest too – the Clanranald Trust is constructing a full-scale replica medieval village in the woods, called Duncarron. They often host costumed re-enactments and exciting living history events.
Contact Name : Scottish LowlandsDistrict Office Name : Scottish Lowlands
Address : Five Sisters House
Five Sisters Business Park
Postcode : EH55 8PN
Telephone : 01555 660190
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How to get here
Carron Valley Forest lies beside the B818, west of Denny in Stirlingshire.
Take the B818 west from Denny, signposted to Fintry. The car park is on the left after about 6 miles (10km), at grid reference NS 721 848. The car park is open from 7.30am to 9.00pm in summer and 7.30am to 6.00pm in the winter.
There is also a small parking area at Todholes at the other end of the reservoir.
FK6 5JL is the nearest postcode for the main car park.
Callendar Wood is over 500 years old, and full of fascinating historic features. Larbert Woods is a peaceful green space and wildlife haven on an historic estate; an ideal place for an easy stroll at any time of the year. At Nethercroy you’ll find lovely wildflower meadows, open woodland and a Roman frontier above the Forth & Clyde Canal.