A-Z of Fife’s Hills: O

O: Ormiston Hill (Black Cairn Hill)

Ormiston Hill (also known as Black Cairn Hill)

Continuing with the A to Z of Fife hills this week’s hill is Ormiston Hill in the north of Fife, a grand viewpoint over the Tay.

Ormiston Hill lies at the back of Newburgh on the north Fife coast. It’s primarily rough grazing land although its north eastern slopes have been eaten away by the large Clatchard Quarry. The walker ascending the hill from Newburgh will mostly be blissfully unaware of the quarry’s presence (unless blasting is taking place). It’s 236m summit is the 20th highest hill in Fife (as per the Database of British and Irish Hills).

It’s a straightforward walk up to the summit from Newburgh and it’s well worth stopping from time to time to look back, as the views north over the Tay are excellent. The summit itself is well defended by gorse bushes. However, there is a path through the gorse accessed via a stile. Approaching the summit from any direction other than the stile is unlikely to be much fun.

In days gone by the summit had defences in the form of a hill fort and there was a nearby fort on Clatchard Craig which has now been completely lost to the quarry. At the south western foot of the hill close to a minor road are the remains of MacDuff’s Cross, also worth a visit.

More information on Ormiston Hill is available from Fife Walking.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: N

Norman’s Law

Norman’s Law is a distinctive landmark in the north of Fife and at 285m is the 11th highest hill in Fife. It also has the distinction of being one of Fife’s Marilyns.

The most popular ascent of the hill seems to be from Luthrie in the east but it can quite equally well be ascended from Glenduckie / Ayton in the west or from Pittachope to the north. The Pittachope approach is the shortest and easiest route on to the hill being only 1 mile with less than 500 feet of ascent. The Fife Coastal Path circles the hill on its northern and western sides and there are at least three routes up the hill that start from the coastal path. It’s easy therefore to incorporate this hill into a walk along the coastal path.

Once up to the summit, which is the site of an iron-age fort, the views are splendid in all directions but particularly so over the Tay to the Angus Hills. The summit area itself is quite knobbly and the eastern approach path is a bit steep and eroded.

Norman’s Law makes a good short outing by itself but for a longer day it can be combined with its neighbour Glenduckie Hill, connecting the two by means of the Fife Coastal Path.

Check out Fife Walking’s Norman’s Law page for details of routes up the hill.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: M

Mount Hill

Sporting the Hopetoun Monument on its summit, this hill is one of the most visible landmarks in the north Fife / Cupar area. The 100 foot columnar monument was built in 1826 in memory of Sir John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun (source: Historic Environment Scotland). A similar monument is located at Haddington in East Lothian.

At 221m, Mount Hill is the lowest of Fife’s seven Marilyns (hills with 150m and upwards prominence). As much of its slopes are covered with forestry there are unfortunately only limited views on the ascent / descent. However, once at the summit the trees clear, leaving rough scrubland around the monument and views across the surrounding countryside.

There are a number of possible routes up the hill, the shortest and quickest being via signposted forest tracks from the east. Other routes start from the southern side. There is a lack of parking in the area unfortunately so it may be easier to walk in via Over Rankeilour or from Letham.

More information is available from the Mount Hill page on Fife Walking.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: L

Lucklaw Hill

At just 190m this is the highest hill in the north east of Fife. It is a very conspicuous landmark due to the presence of a large working quarry. The pink felsite quarried from here gives the hill its distinctive red glow when viewed from the south in the sun.

The scrubland summit is easily reached from the village of Balmullo to its south, via field tracks/paths. There are at least two possible routes up the southern slope (one on either side of the quarry) and neither of them are particularly strenuous.

An approach or descent via the northern side is highly recommended where the slopes are clad in attractive mixed woodland. There is a network of paths in the woods leading out on to the open heather and scrub hillside. There are smaller community woodland plantations in the area which can also be incorporated into a walk up the hill.

The summit itself is topped with a communications mast along with an OS trig point and a cairn which is built from bricks rather than stones.

Visit the Lucklaw Hill page on Fife Walking for more information on this hill.

Virtual Kiltwalk 2021 – West Fife

Lee MacGumerait is going to be doing an 18 mile “virtual” Kiltwalk around the West Fife area in aid of Scottish Autism. Every penny he raises will be topped up by 50% thanks to the generosity of Sir Tom hunter and The Hunter Foundation.

Lee says

” Having been based in West Fife for the majority of my life, I have an affinity with the area.  There is nothing more cathartic than walking amongst all the open space overlooking the Forth.

When the opportunity arose to fundraise for Scottish Autism, a charity close to my heart, I felt drawn to fulfilling this goal.  

The route I’ve settled on is very much in the spirit of the West Fife area, taking in much of the landmarks which define the vicinity.

With almost two weeks to go, training is ongoing to secure the stamina required.

Every penny will be gratefully received by the charity, and will be topped by The Hunter Foundation.”

Please support Lee at

Ticks !!!

Ticks are a menace!

They are blood sucking insects that bite and attach themselves to warm blooded mammals including humans. Often ticks are associated with the damper moorlands of the West Highlands and are usually considered to be active during the Summer months. This year however, I personally have already sustained three tick bites all of which were in Fife. Be warned, they are out there!!

Ticks vary in size depending upon which stage of their life cycle they are at and may be no larger than a speck of dirt on your skin. Unlike midges and other biting insects, they bite into skin and then remain in situ whilst feeding and growing fatter! Not only is that a horrid concept (something attached to your skin, feeding on your blood) but they can also carry disease, the most prominent one being Lyme Disease. If not treated with antibiotics lyme disease can have serious consequences.

The good news is that only a minority of ticks (5% according to SWT) carry lyme disease so the chances that the tick that you have just found attached to your arm is infected is actually quite low. The second piece of good news is that in general a tick needs to be attached to you for some time (usually about 24 hours) before it infects you. This means that prompt removal of ticks will reduce your chances of contracting lyme disease from a tick bite.

There are many myths and old wife’s tales on how to remove ticks. Some of which are considered to be down right dangerous and encourage ticks to regurgitate their stomach contents into the bite. Take the time to learn how to safely remove a tick.

The easiest way to remove a tick is with a specialist tool designed for the job. Here are a few examples of tick removers. My preferred option is the Life Systems tick tweezers. These have a very fine hook which you need to carefully slide under the tick’s body taking care not to squeeze the tick. Gently lift the tick so that it is “dangling in mid air” with only its mouth against the skin, and the hook is between the skin and the bulk of the tick without squeezing it. A firm gentle tug with the tweezers then cleanly removes the tick from the skin. It is important to avoid squeezing / squashing the tick during the process.

Other options are :

Compact version of Life Systems Tick Tweezers which can be attached to a key ring or zip pull

Plastic tick hooks which are widely available and usually come in two different sizes. However I personally find that these are not as easy to use as the metal tweezers as the plastic hook is quite thick and difficult to slide under the tick’s body, especially with small ticks.

Tick puller – although I have one of these I have not yet tried using it. Like the above tick hooks, the plastic hook appears to be much less finer than the metallic tweezers and I suspect will not be as easy to use.

Other remover tools are available and a Google search will bring up plenty of options. If using ordinary tweezers they must have a fine point that can be slid under the tick’s body without squeezing it (many tweezers have a broad flat tip). Do not try techniques such as burning off with a cigarette, applying oils or other chemicals.

Please note, I have no affiliation to Life Systems I just think that from my experience of many tick bites that their product is the best on the market.

After a tick bite, keep an eye on the site of the bite for a “bulls-eye rash” and also any other possible symptoms of lyme disease. Consult your GP promptly if you suspect lyme disease.

For good advice on dealing with ticks and lyme disease please see

Mountaineering Scotland


Health Protection Scotland (links to downloadable leaflets)

Stay away from unreliable information sources. If in any doubt talk to a health care professional.

For a particularly gruesome photo of a tick have a look at this picture from the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Be tick and lyme disease aware

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: K

Knock Hill

Knock Hill is the 3rd highest hill in Fife and with its plethora of communications masts, an obvious landmark in west Fife. It sits close to its smaller neighbour Saline Hill, separated from it by a boggy coll.

There are actually three listed hill summits in the range, as Easter Cairn to the east of the main Saline Hill summit (Mid Cairn) is also recognised as a hill in its own right (source: Database of British and Irish Hills). At 364m, Knock Hill has the distinction of being the 3rd highest hill in Fife! Saline Hill (Mid Cairn) makes it into 4th place at 359m and Easter Cairn lays claim to the 6th place with 355m summit.

The three hills together make a good day out though be warned the coll between Knock Hill and Easter Cairn is very wet and boggy! Knock Hill by itself is easily ascended from the east using the access track for the communications masts on its summit. Saline Hill and Easter Cairn can be approached from the south where new deer gates (openable) have replaced old walls/fences for easier access.

Check out the Saline Hill and Knock Hill page on Fife Walking for details of all three hills.

Fife Hills Challenge

As Spring starts to spring upon us, the weather improves, the days get longer and lock down restrictions are eased, more people are looking for outdoor activities / exercise. We are still restricted to our local authority areas for the immediate future so for those of you in Fife here are a couple of challenges you might want to consider based on Fife’s highest hills and Fife’s most (topographically) prominent hills.

Which challenge(s) will you undertake and can you complete it before travel restrictions are lifted?

Fife’s Highest Hills

The 9 hills in Fife that are over 300m in height

If you prefer inches and feet these are also the same 9 hills that are over 1000 feet in height!

West Lomond 522m, 1713 feet

East Lomond 448m, 1470 feet

Knock Hill 364m, 1194 feet

Saline Hill 359m, 1178 feet

Benarty Hill 356m, 1168 feet

Easter Cairn 355m, 1165 feet

Park Hill 339m, 1112 feet

Wether Hill 335m, 1099 feet

Outh Hill 324m, 1063 feet

The 14 hills in Fife that are over 250m in height

As above plus

Largo Law 290m

Norman’s Law 285m

Lumbennie Hill 284m

Pitlour Hill 275m

Cult Hill 264m

Fife’s Most Prominent Hills

The 7 hills in Fife that have Marilyn status (i.e. 150m prominence / drop)

West Lomond 405m prominence

Benarty Hill 228m prominence

Norman’s Law 209m prominence

Largo Law 197m prominence

Mount Hill 163m prominence

East Lomond 155m prominence

Cairnie Hill 150.4m prominence

The 14 hills in Fife that have Hump status (i.e. 100m prominence / drop)

As above plus

Lumbennie Hill 139m prominence

Lucklaw Hill 117m prominence

Cowden Hill 116m prominence

Knock Hill 112m prominence

Saline Hill 104m prominence

Black Hill 104m prominence

Ormiston Hill 103m prominence

Routes up these hills (and many more) are available on the Fife Walking website.

If you want somewhere to log your hill progress, the hill-bagging site is recommended.

Fife Hills A to Z : I


At girst glance it might seem strange including this 497m eastern Ochil in a Fife A-Z, as it does not lie within Fife. However, there are a lack of hills in Fife beginning with I and Innerdouny is topographically very significant for much of north Fife.

Innerdouny Hill (located between Yetts of Muckhart and Dunning) is the parent Marilyn for the ground north of the A91 and west of Collessie Den. This area contains a number of significant hills including 4 Humps (hills with 100m and upwards prominence).

Lumbennie Hill at 284m is the 12th highest hill in Fife and the highest point within Pitmedden Forest. In itself it’s not an overly exciting hill as it is covered with conifer plantings and accessed via a rough fire break. Nearby, in the Strathmiglo area, is the more attractive rough grassland of 275m Pitlour Hill which is easily approached via tracks through the Pitlour Estate.

The cluster of hills around Lindores / Newburgh is well worth mentioning, namely, Cowden Hill, Black Hill, Woodheads Hill and Ormiston Hill. These hills offer a number of routes for the walker. Black Hill and Woodheads Hill, like Lumbennie, have their summits coated with conifer plantings but Cowden Hill across the road is a good viewpoint for the area and has a track almost to its summit.

So despite not being in Fife, Innerdouny does provide us with some fine hill summits to explore.

Check out the Ochils Outliers 1 and Ochils Outliers 2 pages for routes up these hills.

Fife Hills A to Z : H

Hill of Beath

At 240m this is a prominent hill between Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath, very obvious from the M90 motorway. It makes for a grand outing for a couple of hours and affords fine views over the surrounding area.

It can be approached from a number of directions and my personal favourite is via the lovely Dalbeath Marshes Nature Reserve. This former quarry / open cast site is now a haven of tranquility with wetlands and woodlands. For a short easy outing the best approaches are probably from Crossgates or Hill of Beath village and up the grassy path on its southern slope.

The hill is surrounded by core paths with one heading over the eastern shoulder. Although it is possible to walk right around the hill on the core paths, the ground to the northern side is somewhat rough and may not be to everyone’s liking.

Check out the Hill of Beath page for details of the different routes up the hill and for a circular walk from Dalbeath Marshes.