THE hike from the foot of Alva Glen was proving enjoyable, following the hill track that skirts beneath the conical top of The Neb, then past Ben Ever and onwards into the heart of the Ochils.

If one is looking for a quick and convenient access to the high ground of these fine little hills, then this is the route to take, for the incline is gentle and the going easy on the legs.

The sun shone warm and a gentle breeze rustled the rushes in the damper margins, while yellow-flowered tormentil and birds-foot trefoil adorned the track verges, which in turn attracted many butterflies.

Small tortoiseshells and peacocks were the most prevalent, but I also spot a small copper butterfly sunning itself on a rock. Numerous meadow pipits flutter up from the track ahead of me.

Soon, I arrive upon the southern fringes of Alva Moss, a vast boggy upland plateau. It is undeniably bleak at first glance; flat and featureless.

But experience of such places has told me that this is only ever a veneer, because once you delve deep, nature’s riches will soon sing out at you.

Here, by a mossy pool, I am at the source of the River Devon, and I gather some sphagnum and clench my fist tightly, watching the water ooze through my fingers, pure and clear; it is the start of the river’s journey.

A mere seepage in the landscape, but one which like a snowball rolling down a hill, soon gathers pace and momentum.

I head downstream for a few hundred yards and pool shimmers out at me.

I peer into its depths and scrabble around with my hands in search of life.

Tiny water spiders glide across the surface and on the stony bed of this tiny burn are numerous caddis and mayfly larvae.

Already well-established in these early river beginnings, these larvae are the bedrock of life, providing sustenance for so many other creatures, including water birds and trout.