The Ochil Hills rise abruptly from the adjacent lowland.
Nestled in tight against the bottom of the hills is a line of villages – the Hillfoot Villages. Pull out a road atlas and find Muckhart, Dollar, Tillicoultry, Alva, Menstrie, and Blairlogie. You’ll find them all in a line, along the A91, at the bottom of the hill slope.
So why build your village here? Well you can see why they didn’t put them any further north. Who wants to build on a steep, high slope, when there is flat lowland nearby? But the lowland is the floodplain of the River Devon, which makes it boggy and prone to flooding. So the villages are on the lowest slopes of the hills. If you look at the wall, in this next picture, you can see that the street is sloping, though nowhere near as much as the Ochils in the background.
Each village is located where a fast flowing stream races down to the lower land. Very handy to have a fresh water supply running right past your door.
As these streams emerge from the Ochils they are no longer confined to their steep sided valleys and the land in front of them flattens out. They are no longer racing energetically and so have to dump some of the gravel, sand and other sediments that they are carrying. These deposits (it’s called an alluvial fan) have raised the land slightly, above the River Devon’s boggy floodplain, giving gently sloping land and a great spot to build a village.
The streams from the Ochils were also critical to the early prosperity of the area. Next Wednesday I’ll tell you more about how water powered the industry in the Hillfoot Villages.