Exploration of the eastern side of Benarty Hill.
Distance: 7 miles / 11.3 km
Ascent: 1230 feet / 375 m
Start / finish: Lochore Meadows
Facilities: Parking, cafe and toilets at Lochore Meadows Park Centre/Outdoor Centre. Bus service to the entrance of the park in Crosshill.
Other walks in the area:
There is ample parking at Lochore Meadows along with the facilities of the park centre. Note, at the time of writing the park centre is due for demolition and rebuilding. It is expected that there will be a period during 1017 without the centre. A temporary cafe is being established at the nearby Outdoor Centre. Contact Fife Coast and Countryside Trust if you need more information.
Other start points could be used for this walk eg Kelty car park in Lochore meadows, Benarty Bay car park or even the layby on the Hill Road at the foot of the steps up Benarty Hill for a shorter walk.
If visibility is poor and the hill is shrouded with cloud you may wish to keep this walk for a better day unless you are confident of your navigation skills. The paths themselves on the open hill are very easy to follow but some basic navigation would be advisable in poor visibility.
From the park centre, walk out along the good path on the north side of the loch. After just over 1km the path leaves the lochside and joins the Pit Road through the park. Turn left on to the road passing a small parking area (this is Benarty Bay car park which could be used as a start point). Soon after the parking area there is a gate on your right with an information board. Go through the gate and follow the track up Harram Hill. This section is rather steep so take your time and if walking in May enjoy the carpet of bluebells. The track zig zags round to the left then to the right. As you start to go downhill, ignore the path to your left and keep right continuing downhill to join a track. Turn left on the track and proceed to the public road known as the Hill Road.
Cross over the Hill Road and start climbing the steps on the opposite side which are signed for Benarty Hill. If you want some entertainment you could try counting the steps! Part way up where the path turns sharply left there is a welcome bench with good views back to Loch Ore. Keep left at this bench and continue on upwards on the path. Recent felling has opened up the views on this stretch of the walk. New bulldozed tracks have been created by the forestry works and there are now a number of routes up the hill. At a junction with a choice of four paths, the original route takes the second left path, crosses a bulldozed track and bears right up the hill close to a fence. At an obvious crossing, cross the fence and pick up a well defined but unsurfaced path on the open hillside. A shorter but steeper route to reach the fence crossing point is to take one of the right hand paths (they join together) at the junction directly up the hill, also crossing the bulldozed track at one point.
Follow the path on the open hillside for about 750m passing over a hillock to reach the trig point at the summit of Benarty Hill. Watch out for sheep up here if you have a dog with you. The best views are from the fence to the north of the trig point rather than from the actual summit itself.
After enjoying the views across Loch Leven and beyond, turn right to head eastwards on the rough path that runs alongside the fence. Keep on this path for about 1km all the way along the ridge (ignore a path that branches off to your right) until you reach another fence in front of you. Turn to your right to follow this fence a short distance until it reaches the conifer tree plantation. Cross through broken fences into the trees and make your way steeply down the slope at the edge of the trees. A rough path is starting to form here (Summer 2016) and is likely to become more obvious over time.
At the bottom of the slope is a new surfaced “road” which if you turn left will take you to Vane Farm. However, you should turn right and go uphill a little bit to skirt round the edge of the conifer trees. The road then joins an older forest track which takes you back down the hill in the direction of the Hill Road. However, before reaching the road, the forest track bends sharply to the left. At this point on your right hand side is a rough grassy track leading into the trees in a westerly direction. Follow this track for about 500m to reach the bench that you passed earlier in the day on your way up the hill.
Go back down the steps to reach the Hill Road. Cross over the road to enter Lochore Meadows Park. When you reach the track on your right handside that goes over Harram Hill (the one you used earlier), keep left on the track known as The Avenue (it’s marked as Ladath Stripe on OS maps). From this junction follow The Avenue for about 1km. At a point where an old high fence appears on your left start looking for a field gate on your right hand side with a pedestrian gate obscured by trees to the right of it. If you reach Balingry you’ve gone too far !!!
Go through this gate into the field. There is a very feint path across the field which may be hard to spot. If you walk roughly south to reach the other side of the field you shouldn’t go far wrong. At one point you will cross an old low wall.There is a gate at the other side of the field for you to aim for. Go through the gate, cross the road (Pit Road through the park) and pick up a signed path on the opposite side through the woods. Very quickly you will be back at the Park Centre where you started your walk.
If you would like a slightly longer walk, instead of using the path along the north side of the loch, you could walk round the south side to reach the foot of Harram Hill the long way round. This has the advantage of views across the loch to Benarty Hill.
Another option for a slightly longer walk would be to turn left after crossing the field on to the Pit Road and walk round the outside of the golf course to return to the Park centre.
View / download this route on Viewranger.
View / download this route on the Ordnance Survey website.
© 2016 – 2017 Fife Walking. All rights reserved. If using this route for a group or organised walk please credit Fife Walking as your source.