Dollar Glen & Castle Campbell

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

Nestled in the heart of Central Scotland, Dollar Glen and Castle Campbell stand as a testament to the country’s natural beauty and storied past. From the breathtaking vistas of the glen to the ancient stone walls of the castle, this enchanting destination is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Whether you seek tranquilly in nature, a glimpse into Scottish history, or simply an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Dollar Glen and Castle Campbell offer an unforgettable experience.

Castle Campbell and Dollar Glen
Address:Dollar,
Clackmannanshire,
FK14 7PP
Opening Hours:1 April to 22 December and 29 December:
Daily except for Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 4 pm

5 January to 31 March:
Daily except for Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 4 pm

Closed for lunch from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm
Admission Price:Adult £6.00
Child £3.60
Senior £4.80
Parking:Free on-site parking
Contact:01259 742 408
Facilities:Gift shop, toilets, picnic area

Overview

Craig Neil at Dollar Glen

Dollar Glen, located in the Ochil Hills, is a scenic wonder famed for its cascading waterfalls and diverse wildlife. At its heart lies the historic Castle Campbell, once the lowland residence of the powerful Campbell clan, offering panoramic views that perfectly capture the glen’s untouched beauty.

For an afternoon walk that includes meandering rivers, rushing waterfalls, deep gorges, towering trees, and a castle with one of the best views in Scotland, the trail around Dollar Glen is hard to beat. This beautiful stretch of woodland is situated close to the village of Dollar in Clackmannanshire and has been a popular recreation site since Victorian times.

Dollar Glen is famous for its thriving plant life, and the lush wooded gorges explode in a riot of colour in spring and summer, while autumn and winter provide lots of opportunities for birdwatching. Although the glen is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, Castle Campbell, the glen’s main attraction, is managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

Castle Campbell sits high on top of an outcrop overlooking Dollar Glen in a location that’s regarded as one of the most scenic in Scotland. Home of the powerful Campbell Earls of Argyll in the 1400s, it now lies almost entirely in ruin. Even so, there are plenty of things to see on a visit to this historic site, including one of Scotland’s best-preserved tower houses and a picturesque terraced garden.

Dollar Glen

The Highlights

1: Dollar Glen is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. The glen is characterised by steep cliffs, dense woodlands, and a cascading waterfall, creating a stunning landscape that’s perfect for nature lovers and hikers. Visitors can enjoy scenic walks along the well-maintained paths, taking in the stunning views and the tranquil atmosphere of the glen.

2: One of the highlights of visiting Dollar Glen is the opportunity to explore Castle Campbell. Perched on a strategic position overlooking the glen, Castle Campbell has a rich history that dates back to the 15th century. The castle offers visitors a glimpse into Scotland’s past with its well-preserved towers, courtyards, and great hall. From the castle, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the glen and the Ochil Hills.

3: As visitors explore the glen, there’s a good chance they’ll encounter various species of birds, including woodpeckers, owls, and woodland songbirds. The woodlands are also teeming with animals such as red squirrels, badgers, and deer.

Visiting Tips

1: The paths running through the glen can get very muddy. Very, very muddy in winter. Don’t even bother trying it if you have a pristine pair of white trainers strapped to your feet. If you need waterproof footwear, check out my recommended walking boots.

2: If you’re looking for things to do after visiting Dollar Glen, you’re in luck, as there are dozens of attractions within a short drive. My top three recommended attractions within ten miles of Dollar Glen are the historic village of Culross, the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.

3: Consider starting your visit to Dollar Glen early in the day to avoid crowds and enjoy its peaceful ambiance. The weekends are particularly busy, but you’ll find the glen is pretty much deserted midweek.

castle campbell

Tourist Information

Dollar Glen is worth exploring even if you don’t stop to wander around Castle Campbell, but I recommend fitting a visit to both attractions into one trip as the woodland trail veers close to the castle entrance.

Wildlife lovers will certainly enjoy this walk thanks to the many plants and animals that call the deep gorge their home. Not only is Dollar Glen a nationally important site for lichens and ferns, but it’s also a haven for numerous bird species, with woodpeckers, dippers, and nuthatches visible as they flit about the woodland.

Visitors to the glen will notice that the thundering burns of Sorrow and Care cross under the main footpath in several places, but thankfully the risk of falling into them is kept to a minimum as the paths are very well maintained and there are sturdy barriers at the steepest sections.

The only downside to having so much water near the footpath is that it gets very muddy after a downpour, especially in winter, which is definitely worth bearing in mind if you have a dog or a toddler. Nevertheless, the glen offers superb woodland walks and it’s a fantastic place to switch off from the busy 9-to-5 of the working week.

Dollar Glen

For those who prefer an adrenaline rush to quiet walks, Dollar Glen has another activity that might interest you. The steep south-facing slopes of the Ochil Hills are home to several rivers and waterfalls, which have carved some rather impressive chasms into the volcanic rockfaces.

These pools and waterfalls form a natural playground for canyoning, which basically involves climbing up the rocks and then jumping and sliding back down into the water below. If the idea of canyoning has piqued your interest, the best operator in the area is Scotland’s Canyons whose experienced instructors will be only too happy to show you the ropes (no pun intended…) of rock climbing.

Scotland’s Canyons operate tours with small private groups year-round, as well as scheduled trips from April to October. It’s an exhilarating way to take in the beauty of the glen that only canyoners can see. While Dollar Glen is ideal for first-time canyoners, nearby Alva Glen offers an even more exhilarating time.

Dollar Glen

Aside from adrenaline sports, Castle Campbell is another attraction that’s worth visiting. Built with a dull grey stone, the tower house was once the Campbell family home and was originally known as Castle Glume, but with its now rather dilapidated state, perhaps ‘Castle Gloom’ is more appropriate.

Stepping inside the tower house you’ll find a stairway that leads up onto the roof which opens up to spectacular views across Dollar Glen, while heading back down to the courtyard will take you out onto the terraced gardens and the John Knox Pulpit where the revered preacher gave sermons in 1556.

There’s also a small visitor centre on the site along with lots of information displays so you can find out about the castle’s history, while the picnic area is the perfect place to take a rest before heading back into the wilds of the glen.

As far as getting there goes, it really depends on whether or not you’re going to visit the castle, the glen, or both. The castle has a decent car park, as does Dollar Glen, although the latter is a wee bit harder to find. If you have a satellite navigation system, set these coordinates to get to it: 56.171857, -3.6703670.

Dollar Glen

Walking Route

You can start a walk from several places on the circular path depending on where you leave the car, but you’ll likely have parked up either in Dollar Village or at the car park on Castle Road. My preference would be the car park nearest the castle, as it allows you to nip back to the car to grab a picnic if you want to enjoy the castle gardens for lunch.

As the route is circular, you can’t really get lost, so just keep to the path unless you want to take minor detours to the many viewpoints. From nearly all of these viewpoints you’ll be able to see Castle Campbell, while the lower section of the path allows access to the burns (streams).

The burns may look peaceful, but there are a couple of sections where the water thunders down some impressive waterfalls, so I suggest wearing waterproof boots (link to recommended boots) to ensure you don’t slip on the banks.

History

It’s easy to see why a fortification was built in Dollar Glen as it commands superb views all the way to the horizon. Although the castle we see today is known for being home to Clan Campbell, it was originally built in 1430 for Lord Lorne, a Scottish noble who was a prominent political figure at the time.

It wasn’t until 30 years later that the property passed to the Campbells when the 1st Earl of Argyll married Lord Lorne’s daughter, and it remained with this family for the next 400 years.

Over the generations, the castle was expanded and modified several times, first with the addition of the east range and then with the south range, while an arched loggia (an exterior gallery with one side open to the elements) was added in the 1590s.

However, with the execution of the 8th Earl of Argyll in 1660, the Campbells chose to build new lodgings in Stirling rather than continue to live in the castle, and apart from a brief spell when it was used as a Jacobite garrison in the mid-1700s, it was left to fall into ruin.

The Campbells finally sold the castle in 1805 and it passed into the ownership of several wealthy Scots until it finally passed to state care in the 1940s. Today, Historic Environment Scotland manages Castle Campbell, which has now been designated as a scheduled ancient monument.

Castle Campbell

Things to Do

Exploring Castle Campbell: Perched atop a hill in the luxuriant greenery of Dollar Glen, Castle Campbell provides a window into Scotland’s fascinating past. Stroll through the rooms and corridors and imagine the lives of the nobility in the 15th century.

Hiking through Dollar Glen: Dollar Glen is a paradise for walking thanks to well-marked trails that wind through a beautiful landscape of cascading waterfalls, dense woodlands, and rocky gorges. The enchanting flora and fauna and the challenge of the terrain make this a must-do adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.

Picnicking by the Burns of Sorrow and Care: Pack a picnic and spend an idyllic afternoon by the two burns that meander through the glen—the Burn of Sorrow and the Burn of Care. There are also several benches in the glen that are a good place to stop with a packed lunch.

Wildlife Spotting: Dollar Glen is home to an array of wildlife, including red squirrels, roe deer, and a variety of bird species. A quiet walk through the glen can turn into a great wildlife-spotting adventure; just don’t forget your binoculars!

Photography: With their historic castle, enchanting forest, and dramatic gorges, Dollar Glen and Castle Campbell provide countless opportunities for photography. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, you’ll find a wealth of subjects to capture, from the architectural details of the castle to the changing moods of the glen during each season.

Dollar Glen

Book Tours

Things to Do Nearby

Saddle Hill. Dollar FK14 7PP. 10-minute walk.
An easy walk north from Dollar Glen into the Ochil Hills. There is a path that follows a burn that springs further up in the hills. Those looking for a longer walk can continue north towards the Glendevon reservoirs.

King’s Seat Hill. Dollar: FK14 7PX. 30-minute walk.
This hill is located to the west of Dollar Glen. The terrain is open and treeless, but it offers incredible views of the Forth and the Lomond Hills.

Dollar Museum. Castle Campbell Hall, 1 High St., Dollar, FK14 7AY. 5-minute drive.
An independent museum that aims to preserve the rich heritage and history of the village of Dollar. As well as containing extensive archives, the Dollar Museum has a large collection of local artefacts, historic documents, and photographs.

Japanese Garden. Upper Hillfoot Rd., Dollar, FK14 7PL. 11-minute drive.
A manicured historic Japanese garden with woodland walks, picnic areas, and a tearoom. The garden includes authentic Japanese water features, plant life, and sculptures.

Woodhill Wood Park. Alva, FK12 5HU. 18-minute drive.
broadleaved woodland on the southern slopes of the Ochil Hills. There are waymarked trails throughout the wood that provide access to the upper slopes with panoramic views over the Firth of Forth, as well as shorter routes that overlook an abandoned silver mine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Castle Campbell called Castle Gloom?

Castle Campbell, known historically as Castle Gloom, is a mediaeval fortress situated in the town of Dollar. The name ‘Gloom’ is derived from the Gaelic word ‘glom’, which means a chasm or a gap, referencing the castle’s location in a deep and narrow valley, or glen.
The Clan Campbell owned it and changed its name to Castle Campbell in the fifteenth century. Despite the change, the old name, Castle Gloom, still lingers and is used interchangeably, especially in local lore and storytelling.

Who owns Castle Campbell?

The Earls of Campbell originally built Castle Campbell as their headquarters, but Historic Environment Scotland now owns and operates it.

Is Castle Campbell dog-friendly?

Visitors are allowed to take dogs to Castle Campbell, but they must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted on the rooftop areas.

How long is the Dollar Glen walk?

The walk around Dollar Glen is approximately 2 miles in length on rough, compacted dirt paths that have some sections up steep inclines. The circular route takes 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.