ONE of my favourite Ochil circuits starts from Glensherup and takes in the high tops of Skythorn, Tarmangie and Innerdownie Hills.

It delivers an eclectic mix of scenery, ranging from reservoirs to forest and open montane grassland, as well as an abundance of wildlife.

It certainly didn’t disappoint last week when I completed the route under the glare of wonderful Easter sunshine.

On the first leg, I lingered by the silver-glistened waters of Glensherup reservoir for a while in the hope of spotting a hunting osprey, but the sky remained stubbornly empty.

However, my eyes were drawn to a pair of common gulls resting on a stone tower next to the dam. In previous years they have nested here.

Ascending the path on the north side of the reservoir leads through a marvellous newly planted native woodland.

A remarkable transformation has taken place here though an ambitious project managed by Woodland Trust Scotland (WTS) that has seen over 1.5million native trees planted in Glen Devon to create a forest that mirrors the landscape found in historical times.

The scheme began in 2001 when WTS bought two large sites in Glen Devon at Glensherup and neighbouring Glen Quey.

The plantings comprised an array of native species such as oak, birch, bird cherry, ash, juniper and hazel, and already the benefits to wildlife are tangible.

On reaching the high ground of the Ochil plateau, stretching from Skythorn Hill and across to Tarmangie and Innerdownie Hills, skylarks spirited themselves up into the air on quivering wings, spilling down their rich songs.

In some of the hill ponds, frog spawn abounded, although these small pools looked ephemeral and I wondered whether the tadpoles, once they emerged, would be able to survive.

On the final descent from Innerdownie Hill into Glensherup, a peacock butterfly floated and danced through the air on fragile burgundy wings.

The peacock is one of our most beautiful butterflies, but they are flighty and often frustrating to watch as they never stay still for any length of time, settling briefly before swirling up into the air once more.

When one does eventually alight for a while, the wonderfully patterned wings shine out, most notably the four false ‘eyes’, one in each corner.

Nature is unrivalled when it comes to intricacy and purpose of design, and these ‘eyes’ are a clever ruse to scare birds and other predators.