THE circuit around Hillfoot Hill above Dollar is always a wonderful walk, offering fine views across the Forth valley and the opportunity to get close to nature.

On my most recent visit, a good selection of wildflowers adorned the track edges, including sweeps of hawkbit, which look similar to dandelions, but are more graceful with their yellow-frilled blooms held aloft on slender stems.

Also catching my eye were the powderpuff yellow blooms of lady's bedstraw and the fiery-orange flowers of the delightfully named fox-and-cubs.

The scientific family name for bedstraws – Gallium – comes from the Greek word for milk and refers to the flowers of lady's bedstraw which were used to curdle milk in northern England when making cheese.

According to folklore, the Virgin Mary lay on a bed of lady's bedstraw at the inn in Bethlehem, which led to the subsequent belief that a woman lying on a bed of the plant would have a safe childbirth.

Steeper, rockier parts of the path margin were adorned with the tiny purple flowers of wild thyme.

This species of thyme is not normally used in cooking; however, it has other uses from the past: from scenting clothes to making tea, and has long been associated with humanity.

Bird's-foot trefoil also abounded in places. A member of the pea family, its yellow flowers occur in small clusters.

Common names for the plant include 'butter and eggs', eggs and bacon', and 'hen and chickens', which all refer to the egg-yolk yellow flowers and reddish buds.

It is an important food plant for common blue butterflies and blaeberry bumblebees.

On higher stretches of the track, the spikey, rotund burrs of piri-piri clustered.

It is a non-native plant, first recorded in the UK in 1901 and was most likely introduced here as seeds stuck on the fleeces of sheep imported from New Zealand.

Piri-piri is a small shrubby plant, which produces balls of reddish flowers in late spring which ripen into red, barbed fruits, called burrs which turn brown during the summer.

The barbed burrs detach from the plant in mid to late summer onto anything that passes – boot laces, socks, dogs and livestock, and thus the plant is easily spread.

It is a pest species in some parts of the country because it forms dense mats which often results in the loss of surrounding native plants.