Whilst the rest of the country bakes in the midst of a blazing heat wave we have pleasantly cool weather on the Fife Peninsula. After a couple of days of taking the dogs down on the beach at St Andrews I am keen to get out for a proper walk. We did a couple of walks whilst staying at Knockhill CL last year that we plan to repeat this trip. One of our favourites was a wander over the Lomond Hills and this is where we are heading today.
The starting point for the walk is in the public car park in Falkland. We leave the village by heading uphill past the site of the old Smith Anderson bag factory. When we were here last May the factory had been closed a couple of years but now it is in the process of being knocked down.
We join the East Lomond footpath in some woodland and then keep right at the fork. Soon we reach steps on our left and start to climb through the trees. This is a long and steep climb, steps for most of the way, and we are obviously some way off full fitness because we have to stop for a breather before reaching a gate.
We follow the well-defined uphill path to reach another gate and stop to admire the view back over Falkland (and to catch our breath again).
Then we start the really steep ascent up to the summit of East Lomond, as we approach low cloud sweeps across and it is decidedly chilly on the top. We are 1,391 feet up, last year we could clearly see West Lomond Hill from here but today we can only just make it out.
It is too chilly to hang around for long so we soon start the steep descent.
The route towards West Lomond is clear and after passing through a gate we join a track and follow this west to a road, which we cross to a car park with public toilets. Our route continues through the car park, initially on a grassy track but soon joining a stone track that heads steadily uphill towards West Lomond.
We have seen a couple of square stones along the route inscribed with WR 1818. Apparently these initials stand for William Rae. Sir William Rae was the King’s Commissioner for the act of enclosure and was responsible for laying out the boundaries almost 200 years ago.
As we walk Lynnie mentions an article in our local paper, The Salisbury Journal, whilst away we like to keep up with local news and accessing papers online is ideal. This particular article was about the number of antisocial incidents relating to homeless people drinking whilst occupying City centre benches. Apparently local traders are up in arms and want the streets cleared.
The article highlights the lack of police resource in the City and the fact there are no longer custody cells in Salisbury (Wiltshire Constabulary in their wisdom closed the local Police Station and now the custody cells are across Salisbury plain at Trowbridge). I should stress I am not advocating locking up homeless people, far from it! I think as a society we should ask ourselves if we are comfortable that so many individuals sleep rough.
It is easy to look at homeless people, or in fact often easier to look away, and see someone with a serious alcohol or drug addiction, but it is harder to question how they arrived in this situation. Many are likely to have spent time in care, (an environment we now regularly hear was prone to abuse); others will have suffered mental health issues or tragic events in their lives. Very few choose to live their life this way and perhaps society would be better if more thought was given to supporting the vulnerable and assisting them to change their lives around.
We are alone walking in beautiful countryside, surrounded by the song of skylarks and we are discussing how more support could be provided to the homeless in our society. It is strange where conversation takes you.
Back to our walk; we are now approaching West Lomond in front of us is a very steep ascent, so we sneak round the back and catch it unawares, we still have to get to the top but the climb is more gradual and we stop to take in the views.
We are now 1,712 above sea level, this is a cracking spot.
We decide to head down the east side of the hill, this is steep and hard going, but we encounter a chap running up. From the look on his face I am not sure he is deriving any pleasure from his evening’s exercise. We are back on the track we walked earlier, this time heading east.
Just before reaching the road we crossed earlier we take a left turn on a path leading down by Coalpit Burn to Maspie Den, there are some significant drops into the gorge to our right.
At the foot of the hill we meet a path and turn right to walk back towards Falkland with the Maspie Burn on our right. The path leads us through a tunnel created to allow walkers to explore the grounds of the nearby House of Falkland. At moments like these Lynnie is grateful that I carry so much stuff in my rucksack. Out comes the torch and we see our way safely through. Emerging on the other side of the tunnel we continue on the path that passes the front of the House of Falkland and join a tarmac drive leading back into Falkland village.
In the centre of the village there is the impressive Bruce Fountain named after Onesiphorus Tyndall-Bruce once keeper of the Palace. I have written about this notable chap in a previous blog.
Our walk today has covered just over nine miles. It has been a real test of stamina, the ferocious climb at the start sapped our energy but is has been very rewarding and a walk that I look forward to doing again on another trip to this part of the country.
22nd June 2017
[To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 370 – Glenrothes North, Falkland & Lomond Hills]
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2017)