A traverse of the Benarty Hill (Sleeping Giant) ridge combined with a circuit of Loch Ore.
Distance: 13.5 km / 8.5 miles
Ascent: 380m / 1170 feet
Start / finish: Lochore Meadows Country Park
Facilities: Parking, toilets and cafe at the Park Centre. Public transport to Crosshill.
Other walks in the area:
This walk could equally well be started from any of the car parks around Lochore Meadows Country Park or the small parking area at the foot of the Benarty Hill steps. Starting from the Park Centre has the advantage of access to the park facilities. At the time of writing (Summer 2017) the Park Centre is being rebuilt and temporary facilities are available in the Outdoor Centre. Contact Fife Coast and Countryside Trust if you need more information.
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/Outdoor Centre start your walk by walking clockwise around the loch via the southern shore path (if you want a slightly shorter walk, use the north shore path instead). This is a well made path with a few “easy open” gates along its route. There are good views across the loch to Benarty Hill where you are headed. Follow the path around the western side of the loch until you meet a tarmac road after passing through a gate.
Turn left onto this road which is the access road to the Benarty Bay (North West) car park further in to the park. After 450m turn right up a private road towards some new build houses. Go past the houses into woodland on a track that is a continuation of the road. The track will take you gently uphill through the woods to join a public road, the Hill Road, at the entrance to Benarty House. Turn left on to the road keeping an eye out for cars as there is no pavement. After about 180m you will reach a gate on your right hand side leading into a field.
The gate is locked so you will need to climb it (please do so at the hinged end so as to cause the least amount of damage) to reach the rough track on the other side. There may be cattle in the next two fields so if you have a dog keep it close to you. Follow the track across the field and up the hillside to reach a communications mast. At this point the track comes to an end. Go right away from the woods passing around the back (north side) of a hillock aiming for a fence junction. There is an unlocked gate in the fence taking you into the next field.
From this point head up hill alongside a fence to your right. Note the signs to your left regarding the rifle range. As you get higher up the hill you will find yourself walking between a wall and the fence. Cross the wall at a convenient point so that it is to your right and keep following it as it turns right and takes you downhill to a dip.
From the dip a path follows the fence line over a number of lumps and bumps and you can enjoy the views across Loch Leven and ahead of you to Benarty summit. You will need to cross a fence in front of you as you follow this path along the ridge line. After some lumpy bumpy ground you reach a fence junction at the site of a hill fort. At this junction cross the fence to your right so that it is now to your left. Descend steeply to a dip (there may be sheep in this area) and continue to follow the fence to a viewpoint close to the summit trig point.
If you want to include the summit make a short diversion to the trig point and then return to the fence. Continue 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 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 a bench on your left hand side.
From the bench, keep left to go down wooden steps to reach the Hill Road. Cross over the road to enter Lochore Meadows Park. At the next junction keep left on the track known as The Avenue (it’s marked as Ladath Stripe on OS maps). From this point 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.
View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.
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