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Mapping Scotland’s Paths

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now.

Ramblers Scotland have recently released their online Scottish Paths Map. This new resource looks extremely promising. The intention is to show, on a single map, all of Scotland’s paths, from the well known waymarked ones to the short muddy trail through local woodlands.

Whilst I, myself, am very much an off path walker who likes to plan my own routes, there is no doubt that as more people take to the outdoors they want to walk on paths and most importantly, to know where those paths are. It’s also sensible when planning to cross areas like farmland, to use paths where they exist. Currently information is split across various maps and resources requiring the user to bring it all together in their own planning. Some paths do not appear on any maps! This new initiative aims to be a comprehensive one stop shop for path information.

As of August it contained information on almost 42,000 miles of paths. It is very much a work in progress and still in its infancy. If you’re like me you will no doubt have spotted plenty of missing paths! Ramblers Scotland are looking for volunteers to assist with providing the data. Given enough people feeding information into it, this has the potential to be the definitive map when looking for walking paths in Scotland.

Paths are also in the process of being “audited” by volunteers so that information on their condition can be captured. Audited paths are shown in green on the map and if you click on them you will see a summary of information including condition, obstacles, ownership and status (eg core path). Again the Ramblers are looking for volunteers to assist with the auditing process.

Please remember that paths can be anything from a traffic free road to a muddy forest trail to a rough heathery mountain path. At this moment in time there may be paths shown on the map in areas where access rights do not apply, so ensure you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Check out the online map here.

Free Navigation Skills Training

Registered charity, Mountain Aid, are funding 6 sessions of introductory navigation skills training. Ideal if you are new to hill walking or just need to brush up on existing skills.

These courses are 1-day sessions taking place during the Autumn months in the Ochil Hills area. All courses are organised and delivered by Outdoor Adventure Scotland using professional, qualified and insured instructors.

Courses are free to attend thanks to the generosity of Mountain Aid supporters and fundraisers.

Full information is available from the Mountain Aid website.

Hurry, there are only 8 places on each session and spaces are filling fast.

Walk your way to wellness whilst exploring Fife’s blue spaces

Walking is one of the most refreshing ways to soothe your spirit. We all know the health benefits that come with getting our steps in each day but what exactly is it about walking that makes it so restorative? I would perhaps argue that where you walk is what really makes or breaks it.

VisitScotland have recently been looking into the health benefits of being in and around water. Much like walking, water has long been known for its physical health benefits but, only recently has its restorative wellness benefits come to light. 

Fife offers a multitude of fantastic walking locations. Here are just some of the walks you can take in Fife to improve your wellness through the healing powers of water. 

Take in Fife’s seascapes with the Coastal Path

Fife’s Coastal Path was created in 2002, originally running from North Queensferry to Tayport. The route stretches for 117 miles so, it’s definitely not one you could do in a day!

Visiting any seascape is a perfect way to escape the stresses of everyday life and clear your head but, this route offers a totally unrivalled walking experience. Fife’s vast peninsula is lined with award-winning beaches: adorned with beautiful scenery, making the Coastal Path one of the best ways to take in all of what Fife’s water wellness has to offer. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, or particularly brave, you could perhaps even turn your hand at some wild swimming in Fife’s icy water. Although – you might want to pack a bag with some warm, extra clothing if this is on your walking itinerary.

Wonderful Marine Wildlife

seal in the sea

Observe some of Fife’s wonderful marine wildlife in their natural habitats on your coastal walk. From seals to humpback whales – with many miles to explore, you are sure to spot at least one of these magnificent creatures. 

Soothe your spirit with a waterfall walk

waterfall

Scotland is home to around 38,000 lochs, and it is certainly not short of blue spaces that you can walk near to. Alongside these lochs, you will also find innumerable waterfalls, including the Kemback Waterfalls. The route begins at a siding in the road of Kemback Woods and, it is important to mention that there isn’t much space to leave cars. 

Walking near to the crashing sound of tumbling shards of water offers an ironic sort of white noise and, is undoubtedly an excellent way to soothe your spirit, immersing yourself in water without having to get wet. 

Content provided by and copyright VisitScotland.


Suggested routes

A few Fife Walking routes to inspire you.

Coastal path walks

Lomond Hills Reservoirs

Tentsmuir

Townhill

Kinghorn Loch

Blairadam and Lochore Meadows

Cameron Reservoir

Gartmorn Dam


Kirkcaldy Walking Festival 2021

Kirkcaldy Walking Festival is back for 2021

After going purely online last year, Kirkcaldy Walking Festival is back!

Running from the 31st July to the 8th August the festival comprises of various walks for all abilities taking place in the local area.

Download the PDF of the programme below, check out the Greener Kirkcaldy website or pick up a printed programme from Greener Kirkcaldy at 8 East Fergus Place, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1XT.


“Kirkcaldy Walking Festival is coordinated by Greener Kirkcaldy as part of their Scottish Government Climate Challenge Fund project “Let’s move up a gear!”, which aims to promote active travel and raise climate change awareness. Now in its fourth year, the walking festival was forced to move online in 2020, but we are delighted to be back with face-to-face walks for 2021!”

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: W

W – West Lomond

For the final instalment in this series of posts the featured hill will be Fife’s highest point, West Lomond.


There are numerous ways of accessing the 522m West Lomond. The most popular (and hence very busy) route is from Craigmead along a rather boring track. Quieter and more interesting routes are from the Bunnet Stane near Gateside, from Glenvale via John Knox’s Pulpit and the Devil’s Burdens, and from Falkland via the Maspie Den or Arraty Den. The more intrepid walker however will probably enjoy a clamber up the cleft of Craigen Gaw on the northern escarpment. Whichever approach route is used, once at the foot of the hill, the walker then has a choice of a direct ascent up the steep eastern / northern slopes or following the track around to the western side for a more gentle ascent.

The hill’s three geological features of the Bunnet Stane / Maiden’s Bower, Devil’s Burdens and John Knox’s Pulpit are all worthy of a visit and can be included in a circular walk ascending from the Bunnet Stane and descending via Glenvale (or vice versa).


Overview map of West Lomond routes
Red: routes from Glenvale / Bunnet Stane; Yellow: routes from Falkland; Blue: routes from Craigmead; Green: routes from Holl

Multiple routes to, and up, the hill are described on the West Lomond page.


So that’s it, although there is a Yellow Hill in Fife that could have been used for Y, it is not a hill that is likely to appeal to the majority of people being a rather scrubby summit protected by electric fences!


A recap of the A to Z

A: Aberdour (Cullaloe Hills)

B: Benarty Hill

C: Cairnie Hill

D: Drumcarrow Craig

E: East Lomond

F: Fleecefaulds Hill and Flagstaff Hill (note since the post was published the summit of Fleecefaulds Hill has “moved” – check hill-bagging.co.uk for latest information).

G: Glenduckie Hill

H: Hill of Beath

I: Innerdouny Outliers

K: Knock Hill and Saline Hill

L: Lucklaw Hill

M: Mount Hill

N: Norman’s Law

O: Ormiston Hill

P: Park Hill (Cleish Hills)

R: Redwells Hill

S: St Ninians

T: The Binn

U: Upper Largo (Largo Law)

W: West Lomond

Happy exploring!


A-Z of Fife’s Hills: U

Upper Largo (Largo Law)



Unfortunately there are no hills in Fife beginning with U, but the village of Upper Largo is host to the 10th highest hill in Fife, the 290m Largo Law. A very prominent landmark throughout the East Neuk, the hill rises steeply from the surrounding flat farmland.

There are two main summits to the hill, the southern one which is the visible one when approaching the hill and the higher northern top where the trig point is located. Also of note is the 235m Craig Rock to the east, site of hill fort and well worth a visit. As is to be expected of a hill in a flat coastal area, the views from this extinct volcano are superb.

There is a steep and somewhat muddy path directly up the grassy southern flank from Chesterstone Farm (follow the arrows for the path around the farm). It will take a bit of effort to get up the hill but the rewards are worth it.

If taking a dog on the hill, please note the restrictions on the sign at the car park next to the school / cemetery. The hill is used extensively for cattle and sheep grazing.

The Fife Walking Largo Law page provides more information on the hill along with a circular walk from Lower Largo.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: T

T for The Binn


The Burntisland Binn is a very obvious hill with its craggy cliffs at the back of Burntisland. Despite its local significance (one story is that god put the Binn in its position to protect Burntisland from the cold north winds), it is not actually recognised as a hill in its own right. With less than 30m height loss (prominence) between it and its higher neighbour, Dunearn Hill, it doesn’t make it into the hill lists.

It is though, well worthy of inclusion in any description of Fife hills and from sea level its 193m provides a reasonable leg stretch for the walker. There are numerous routes to the summit including a simple stroll along the access road to the Craigkelly TV mast. An interesting route starts from near Burntisland Golf Club where a path heads up the eastern shoulder of the hill to the now abandoned Binnend Village. Originally built to house workers at the nearby shale oil works it also became something of a holiday destination for a while. Today just a few remains are visible.

The summit of The Binn is a fantastic viewpoint for the surrounding area. Southwards, the cliffs drop away to Burntisland and the expanse of the Firth of Forth. A view indicator sited at the summit helps identify the distant landmarks.

Check out The Binn page on Fife Walking for details of 8 different routes to the summit.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: S

S for St Ninians


The artificial hillocks of St Ninians may seem a strange inclusion in a listing of Fife Hills. However, in 2020 two out of the three hillocks gained Tump status (hill with 30m and upward prominence) and thus earned themselves a place in the Database of British and Irish Hills.

The hillocks of St Ninians are a landart form designed by Charles Jenks, created on the site of a former open cast mine. Locally controversial, as the original plans were never completed, it is still an obvious landmark when viewed from the M90 near Kelty. The highest of the hillocks is St Ninians East at 181m. This is the hill that attracts the most attention as its summit is adorned with three sculpture features and an avenue of machinery. Access to the summit is via spiral paths often referred to as the walnut whip.

Whilst it is the modern open cast heritage which most people will associate with the area, it is also worth bearing in mind that this is the site of the lost mining village of Lassodie. Once, a thriving community was located here.

The long distance path, the Fife Pilgrim Way, skirts alongside the hills, and walkers on this route can easily make a diversion up St Ninians East.

The area can be approached from the north, east or south. The southern approach from Kingseat along the route of the Fife Pilgrim Way is probably the most scenic. When using this approach, the walker crosses the causeway at Loch Fitty with the hills and sculptures on the skyline providing a tantalising glimpse of what lies ahead.

More information on walking in the St Ninians area is available from Fife Walking.



A-Z of Fife’s Hills: R

R for Redwells Hill


I’m skipping Q in this A-Z because we don’t have any hills beginning with Q in Fife. I did consider Q for quarry hills as a number of hills in Fife have been subject to quarrying. Notably Lucklaw Hill and Ormiston Hill the sites of working quarries. Also in the quarry hills would be Orrock Hill near Kirkcaldy with its northern slope still being quarried away and Lathalmond Hill near Steelend where an old quarry has left very little of the actual hill in tact.

So moving on to R I’m going to feature Redwells Hill.

The 192m Redwells Hill at the back of Kinglassie is probably not a household name among hills. However, it does boast Blythe’s Tower on its southern slopes so does offer some interest.

Blythe’s Tower was built in 1812 and there are conflicting stories as to why it was originally built. It would appear to have been used as lookout tower during Word War II (source: Historic Environment Scotland).

The Fife Pilgrim Way passes close by but access to the either the hill or the tower is not straightforward from the waymarked path.

Redwell Hills is the highest point in the surrounding farmland (agricultural and grazing) and as such access to it needs to be in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. It can be approached from the east via field edges where there is a plentiful supply of gates to get around the fences. Although not much higher than the surrounding ground, the summit is marked with an OS trig point.

Redwells Hill features on the other Fife hills page on Fife Walking

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: P

Park Hill


At 339m Park Hill is the highest summit in the Fife part of the Cleish Hills and is the 7th highest hill in Fife.

The high ground of the Cleish Hills is comprised of rough grass moorland and forestry, and straddles the border of Fife and Perth & Kinross. Undoubtedly the more interesting and most visited summits lie within the Perth & Kinross section though.

Park Hill can be reached from either the western or eastern side. The easiest approach, although longer, is probably from the east by means of forest tracks as far as “Windy Gate”. Beyond here there are rough tussocky paths across the moorland over (or around) the Georgeton Hills, to the vicinity of Park Hill. An approach from the west is likely to be very wet underfoot as is an approach around the southern and western shores of Loch Glow.

The hill is an offshoot of nearby Dumglow which makes for a more interesting destination. Also within the area are the three lumpy hillocks known as the Inneans and the craggy looking Dumifarline. Both Dumglow and Dumifarline are the sites of hillforts. The rough tussocky moorland and lumpy ground gives the area a feel of “real hill” to it.

The Cleish hills, although low in hill terms, form some of the highest ground in Fife. As such they are well worth a visit either by the hill walker looking for an easy option or the more adventurous low level walker.

The Fife Walking Cleish Hillforts page provides details of a route around all these hills.