IF THERE is one thing you must do this month, then it has to be a walk up Dollar Glen, or indeed any of the other fine wooded glens that lie above the Hillfoot towns.

May is the best month to appreciate these Ochil glens in their finest glory.

There is still plenty of light as the leaf cover has not yet fully enveloped the tree canopy, the birds are singing and the ground is covered in colourful scatterings of woodland flowers.

The bluebell is without a doubt the most stunning of these flowers – and in Dollar Glen there are plenty of them!

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins eloquently described the wonders of a woodland floor carpeted by bluebells as having a “blue buzzed-haze” and “wafts of intoxicant perfume”.

It was a flower that held him in such star-struck awe that on another occasion he wrote “….they came in falls of sky-colour washing the brows and slacks of the ground with vein-blue”.

In Dollar Glen I have also found a rare plant that occurs at this time of year called toothwort.

It is a parasitic species that extracts all the nutrients it needs through intricate pad-like suckers that attach to the roots of an adjacent host tree, typically hazel or elm.

Its flower spikes are deathly pale in coloration – and perhaps the reason why it used to be known as the ‘corpse flower’.

Green woodpeckers also frequent these Hillfoot glens – listen out for their high-pitched ‘yodelling’ calls. Look out too for treecreepers and long-tailed tits.

The treecreeper is a strange little bird, almost mouse-like in appearance as it scuttles up a tree trunk, its sharp claws giving good purchase on the smooth bark.

The bird uses its long, curved and slender bill to pick out invertebrates from narrow fissures in the wood.

By the tumbling burns that run down the middle of these glens there are a multitude of mosses, ferns and in the darker recesses strangely shaped liverworts.

It is like being in a different world, a permanently moist environment that closely replicates the kind of conditions typically encountered in a rainforest.

And with over 100 different species of moss recorded in Dollar Glen, the diversity of nature found here rivals any rainforest.