Nestled within the Ochil Hills, Alva Glen in Stirlingshire is an ideal wee nook for a scenic Sunday stroll. This walk amongst the Ochils is a little bit farther than our usual Sunday afternoon walks but an absolutely beautiful wee spot. We were here before spring fully sprung so it’ll be a lot more leafy & green now than it was in the pics.
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The walk through the glen begins at the car park. The winding path follows Alva Burn up the glen, passing quite a few waterfalls along the way. I love a cute bridge and Alva ticked that box because it has plenty of them along the trail.

Over the first bridge after the car park you’ll find the first set of falls. These are overlooked by a big bear statue, and you’ll also find some noisemakers near the beginning of the trail here. You need to collect a good stick along your way to use or you’ll have to whack them with a water bottle like we did. Hitting them with a phone works pretty well too…

Head up the steps and turn left to keep alongside the burn. You’ll need to duck under the pipe (which used to supply Alva with water) and the keep left until you get to a gate. From here you just need to keep following the path. This section is pretty level – a slight incline. When you first go through the gate you’re quite high above the burn below, and then suddenly the path and burn are level with each other.

There are some bits where you can have a play in the burn, and some cute wooden bridges as you go. The path is a bit uneven in parts but it’s not a difficult walk. Eventually you’ll reach the bigger waterfall, and at this point the path starts to climb more steeply upwards. You’ll zigzag up the side of the hill, taking you to a lovely viewpoint looking back down the gorge.

The day we visited we were running out of daylight at this point, so we headed back down from the viewpoint returning along the same path. In total this walk took us about 2.5 hours. You could definitely do it in less than 2 hours but the kids love to play on the rocks and climb bits and have a splash which adds on time.

Smugglers Cave

From the viewpoint the path evens out a bit and you come to a fence where you can head up to the top of the hill (be careful up here because the paths are narrow and can be pretty slippy) or you can scramble down the other side of the gorge into Smugglers Cave. This is a magical part of the walk, where you can see a waterfall coming into a little cave and the burn moving down the glen. However it is tricky to get down to it.

I did this myself a different time and would definitely take the kids back to do it because it was really fun and they’ll love it. But you need to be very confident on your feet because it is slippy and steep. It’s a bit of a scramble when you get towards the bottom. I had to sit on my bum and shuffle down a couple of bits using my hands and feet, and that was with my good walking boots. If it had been wet I’d have left it because the terrain is slippy.

It’s worth it once you get down there though because it is so beautiful.

The Cost

Alva Glen is totally free to visit. Free parking too.

The Logistics

  • No toilets available. Wild pees only.
  • No suitable for wheels.
  • Good for dogs, though some bits of path are narrow so don’t have them knocking anyone into the river.
  • Car park at start of walk. Click here for pin on google maps to car park.
  • It’s not incredibly easy to get here by public transport. There are bus stops a 7 minute walk from the start of Alva Glen though (get off at the Johnstone Arms Hotel). The train to Stirling is about half an hour and then the bus towards Alloa from Stirling Station will take about 25 mins.

The Verdict

This is a really lovely walk through a very pretty glen. With the babbling burn, the various waterfalls, the bridges and the view from the top it’s quite high on the list of new favourites for us! Smugglers Cave is an added extra bit of magic if you can down to it, but that part is definitely not for everyone.