King's Seat Hill stands out in distant views of the Ochil Hills far more than its 648m height would lead you to expect. In a range of hills whose higher members hide shyly behind lower hills on the line of the escarpment, King's Seat Hill is fully visible, rising directly from the line of the A91 between Tillicoultry and Dollar.
You can park in the Dollar Glen car park, on the very edge of Dollar: or you can take your chances on a very narrow single track road leading a couple of hundred yards uphill to the fairly restricted parking area for Castle Campbell. The latter option has the advantage of avoiding the climb up the road on foot.
From whichever car park you choose, follow the road round to the gate below the entrance to Castle Campbell itself. Here you need to follow the path that descends west into the gorge of the Burn of Sorrow and crosses the Burn via a footbridge. A climb up the semi-made path and steps of Jacob's Ladder brings you out onto the open hillside and the start of the walk proper.
From below the way looks straightforward and smooth - a steady pull up a largely featureless grassy hill. The reality you discover is rather more interesting. The path first leads towards a distinct prominence called Bank Hill (or, locally, Dollar Hill), and by-passes it to the north. It's worth the slight detour and marginal extra climb to take the side path to Bank Hill for its excellent views down into Dollar.
The next stretch of the climb is the most surprising. The featureless grassy slope visible from below is actually punctuated by a series of transverse gullies, the Banks of Dollar. It takes a while to work out that these gullies are probably not due to quarrying, looking instead for all the world like collapsed cave systems.
The path takes a switchback ride through the gentler western end of this network before climbing clear and out onto hillside that now does become as grassy and smooth as the view from below leads you to expect.
King's Seat Hill has one further surprise in store. The summit is very obvious as you approach, being endowed with a ramshackle grey rock cairn that blends messily into a rock-made shelter ring. Though as such structures go, this one offers less shelter than some: its design is certainly ineffective against hail being driven horizontally by a June gale.
But... actually, as you look around, then look again at your map, you realise that this isn't the summit at all. That is 5m higher and and lies two hundred yards north west, with a couple of candidates for very highest spot marked with a few stones on the ground and a good view west to Ben Cleuch. So King's Seat Hill offers the unwary a trap, not so much a false summit as a fake summit. In poor visibility it would be very easy to turn back at the main cairn and so miss the summit altogether.
Climbing King's Seat Hill is a nice way to spend a fairly undemanding half day, while still offering a sense of achievement and some excellent views. And it's one of the few hills around whose climb almost demands to be combined with a tour of the fascinating castle tucked away on the spectacular rocky bluff at its foot.
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King's Seat Hill is 648m or 2,126ft. The route described here is about 7km or 4 miles in length, and involves some 500m of ascent.
Grid Ref: NN 938 000