ONE of the finest approaches to Gartmorn Dam is from the track that starts at Coalsnaughton, and on a recent walk taking that route, I was continually absorbed by the abundance of wildflowers and bird life.

Turning right at a waymarked sign about half-a-mile or so down the track, I veered off down a narrow path marked 'Gartmorn Farm Woodland Trails'.

Here, the first rowan berries of the year were rapidly ripening, and several geans (wild cherry trees) was also hanging heavy with glistening fruits.

The vegetation here was thick, making this the perfect place for birds such as wrens and willow warblers.

As I made my way along the path, the soft piping calls of a family of bullfinches breezed its way through the trees.

Bullfinches are stunning birds, and they are also very loyal, with the male and female pairing for life. They seem to have had a good breeding season this year, and I've seen family parties on several occasions during my recent wanderings in Clackmannanshire.

On one part of the path here, marvellous views are glimpsed down towards Gartmorn Dam lying nestled in the folds of the surrounding countryside.

On reaching the reservoir, I inadvertently put to flight a small group of mallards that were dabbling by the water's edge. In the distance, the honking calls of Canada geese drifted through the air.

They are becoming commoner on Gartmorn Dam with each passing year, and because they are non-native birds, it will be interesting to see if they have any impact upon the indigenous waterfowl.

I then took the large track marked by an old Forestry Commission sigh that leads straight all the way back to Coalsnaughton.

Ahead of me in the near distance rose the imposing top of Andrew Gannell Hill in the Ochils – a reminder that the Wee County punches well and truly above its weight, having an unrivalled variety of landscape over a small area.