Ballo and Holt Reservoirs and over Bishop Hill

Whilst I enjoy walking along coastlines I am happiest walking in hills and across moors.  The openness and the feel of the elements is exhilarating, if you can add to that a stiff walk uphill to give the lungs and heart a good work out then that is the perfect day out.  For this reason I loved living in Taunton close to the Quantock Hills.  A good walk was always available.

When we are travelling there is always a bit of a compromise to our walking.  I would choose to be out on the hills everyday notching up fifteen to twenty miles, whereas Lynnie prefers eight to twelve mile walks with something interesting to stop and look at along the way (if there is access to quality ice cream that’s a bonus).  For this reason I have to occasionally adopt subversive tactics when planning a walk, if I mention anything over fifteen miles it is ruled out so if I have to find imaginative ways of describing a long walk with big hills.  For example we will walk by a lake and then reach a stunning viewpoint.

Over the years Lynnie has become attuned to these deceptions and has taken to looking at the map before we set off.  To double bluff I occasionally throw in a walk, which I describe fairly accurately.  So today I have promised about eight miles, or so, with a walk by a lake and a stunning view point!

The starting point for our walk is the car park between the two Lomond Hills, this is between Falkland and Leslie. Bizarrely the public toilets here are locked, we find this hard to understand, and whilst we are putting on our boots we see three people go over to try the door.  When we were in nearby Falkland a few days ago we noticed they were installing barriers at the toilets and that from July it will cost 30p to exercise a call of nature.  I assume this is all part of austerity Britain and soon people will have to resort to doing what bears do in the woods.

Our walk commences by walking back to the road and turning right and following it for about three quarters of a mile until we see a sign post for Ballo Reservoir on the right.  Here we leave the road and go through a gate to enter a field and follow the path as it goes downhill crossing a couple of stiles to reach a path that leads down to the edge of the reservoir.

We turn left and walk along the side of the Ballo Reservoir, this was built in the 19th century to provide drinking water to Kirkcaldy and Dysart.

The path is well marked and leads around Balgothrie and then besides fields before heading through woods to Holt Reservoir dam.

The path follows the tarmac drive until we reach a junction.  Here the road for Holt Reservoir car park is to the right and the left leads to the main road, but we head straight on along the farm track.  This soon passes farm buildings and after passing through a gate swings around to the right with woodland on the right and then continues on to a cattle grid.  We stop to check the map as the farmer drives up the track, he winds down his window and provides helpful advice on the best route to make the most of the views.

We follow his advice and take the gate beside the cattle grid and carry on up the path soon passing the farm buildings to our left at West Feal.  This starts as a gradual incline but after passing the farm increases in gradient.  As we reach the edge of woodland we stop to admire the view behind us and take a breather.

From here the route continues up a broad path through the woods of Munduff Hill, this is steep and it is a warm afternoon.

We are pleased to reach the other side of the trees and walk along by the disused quarries.

Heading towards the ridge the wind blowing from the west starts to hit us. We pass through a gate and follow the path as it heads to the cairn on top of Bishop Hill.

The wind is seriously strong up here, it is difficult to stay on our feet and Lynnie has to brace herself in order to take a picture.

The views over Loch Leven are stunning, but the buffeting we are receiving from the wind stops us lingering for long.

Our walk continues by following the path along the edge of the ridge towards the north.  We follow it to Glen Vale and then as it winds its way down into the glen.

On reaching a path we turn right to head up through Glen Vale, this is a cracking spot and we pass John Knox’s Pulpit.  It is widely recognised as being unlikely that John Knox ever visited this spot, but it is known that local covenanters met to worship here.  Below the rocks is a natural amphitheatre where worshipers could gather and it’s location in the glen made it easy for lookouts to warn if lawmen were approaching.

We follow the clear path through the glen, it is a very atmospheric spot.

Our route continues along the well-made path, we are chatting away so miss the turning on the left that would have taken us over moorland towards West Lomond Hill, by the time I realise our error we are well past the turning.  Not to worry there is another option further along which we soon reach when we arrive at a gate and a wall.  Straight on would take us to Harperleas Reservoir.  We turn left following the path as it runs besides the wall and then ferociously uphill.  I take a look back at Lynnie and it is clear she is not over pleased to have been subjected to this climb; she will thank me for the training when we are in the Highlands next week and she is climbing Munro’s!

We then follow the path northwest towards West Lomond Hill.  Lynnie is adamant that she is not going to climb it! I reassure her that this is not the plan and as we approach the base there is a path skirting the hill anti-clock wise.

When we join the wide track close to Wilkie’s Quarry we turn right and follow this route eastwards.  This is a familiar path; we walked it a couple of days ago in both directions whilst walking the two Lomond Hills.  Soon East Lomond Hill dominates the view in front of us.

The track leads back to the car park where we started our walk.  We have covered just short of nine miles, just right for a good jamabout including a couple of stiff climbs and some challenging windy conditions.  As promised I provided Lynnie with a walk around lakes and a stunning viewpoint, but have the feeling that I might be walking on my own tomorrow!

To view this walk on OS Maps Click Here

To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 370 – Glenrothes North, Falkland & Lomond Hills

24th June 2017

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2017)

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