Four routes up Benarty Hill (the Sleeping Giant). Mix and match the routes to create your own circular walk. Although the hill routes themselves all start from the Hill Road, three approach routes from Lochore Meadows Country Park are also included.
When working out the total distance / ascent of your route you need to add together your ascent approach and hill route and your descent hill and approach route. Ascent figures given are for outward ascent routes, use the reverse ascent for your return route.
Start / finish: Willie Clarke Visitor Centre at Lochore Meadows Country Park, KY5 8BA. Alternative start points are Lochore Meadows North West (Benarty Bay) car park, Lochore Meadows Kelty car park, and the small layby on the Hill Road at the foot of the steps (grid ref: NT 158 969).
Facilities: Cafe and toilets at Willie Clarke Centre, ample parking in car parks at the Willie Clarke Centre and car parks listed above. Limited parking in the layby on the Hill Road.
A particularly good approach during the month of May when Harran Hill Woods is a sea of bluebells.
Distance: 3.5 km / 2.2 miles
Ascent: 120 m / 400 feet (30 m / 100 feet if used in reverse)
Terrain: surfaced lochside path, very steep track up Harran Hill or alternative steep unsurfaced path
Proceed along the North Shore path anti-clockwise around Loch Ore. Towards the far side of the loch, the path heads away from the shore and meets a quiet access road (the Pit Road). Turn left on to this road, through a gate to reach the North West (Benarty Bay) car park.
From the North West Car Park continue along the road for a short distance until you reach the gate on your right at the bottom of the Harran Hill track. There are two tracks up the hill and it doesn’t matter which you choose. The one to the right is the obvious one from here but the one to the left is also a good option and is very slightly shorter.
Follow this good track up the hill which steepens as it climbs. At the point where it bends round to the left it is particularly steep. Just take your time, you’ll get there eventually!. After a right turn the gradient eases off as you cross the top of Harran Hill. The path then curves round to the right as it descends down the hill. This is the point where the alternative path joins from the left. Follow the path downwards until it joins an obvious track known as “The Avenue” marked on OS maps as Ladath Stripe. Turn left on to this track which soons brings you out on the Ballingry Hill Road opposite the start of the Steps and East routes.
Distance: 3.4 km / 2.1 miles
Ascent: 85 m / 280 feet (negligible ascent if route is used in reverse)
Terrain: Surfaced lochside path, quiet access road, woodland track
Proceed along the North Shore parth anti-clockwise around Lochore. Towards the far side of the loch, the path heads away from the shore and meets a quiet access road (the Pit Road). Turn left on to the road, through a gate to reach the North West (Benarty Bay) car park.
After the car park continue around the loch until you reach the point where the loch path turns left through a gate. Keep to the road (straight on) at this point for a further 450m. At a junction turn right up a private road towards some new build houses. Go past the houses (through a couple of metal gates) 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. If heading for the West or Woodland Track routes, turn left otherwise turn right for the Steps and East routes.
If you don’t mind missing out on the lochside path, this approach is a useful alternative.
Distance: 2.4 km / 1.5 miles
Ascent: 90 m / 300 feet (minimal ascent if using route in reverse)
Terrain: Track (can be muddy), field crossing
Leave the car park / visitor centre heading towards the pit head memorial and train. Beyond here a short section of path brings you to the Pit Road where you turn right. A gate on the opposite side of the road takes you into a grassy field (livestock may be present) and a feint path crosses the field to a gate on the far side. Exit the field, turning left onto the track known as The Avenue. A 1 km walk along this track brings you to the junction with the Harran Hill routes, where you keep right (straight on) to reach the Hill Road. The Steps and East routes start opposite this exit whilst the Woodland Track and West routes require a short walk along the road to your left.
Benarty Hill Routes
A quiet route and one you most likely will have to yourself. A couple of fences/gates need to be climbed.
Distance: 2.9 km / 1. 8 miles
Ascent: 220 m / 700 feet (30 m / 100 feet if used for descent)
Terrain: grassy hill paths and tracks
From either the Lochore Meadows gate or the entrance to Benarty House, turn left on to the Hill Road (watch out for traffic as there is no pavement). 800m from Lochore Meadows or 400m from Benarty House, you reach a gate on your right hand side (from Lochore it is the second gate, the first being the start of the Woodland Track route).
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 and the summit trig point.
A straightforward, and probably the easiest, route through a recently planted woodland. Good option for the descent.
Distance: 1.8 km / 1.1 miles
Ascent: 200 m / 580 feet (minimal ascent if using in reverse for the descent)
Terrain: Landrover track and grassy hill path
This route starts from the Hill Road about 400m west of the gate to Lochore Meadows Park and close to the exit from the Benarty House route.
An open-able gate provides access to a corner of a grassy field (livestock may be present) where a grassy track heads up the hillside. As the track leaves the fields and gains height it becomes more pronounced. This route has good views back towards Loch Ore so is a good one to use for the descent. Keep proceeding upwards through recently planted woodland. At a junction keep left continuing uphill. If coming down this way you need to turn right at this junction which is not very instinctive. Before reaching the open hill you will come across a deer fence with a gate. Despite being on a core path this gate has been padlocked in recent years (access problems can be reported to the Fife Council Access Officer). However, the gate is becoming very broken and it is now possible to squeeze through it. Once through the gate, follow the grassy track / path up to the ridge line and then right towards the summit.
The Steps Route
The most popular route up the hill. Many people just go up and down this route. The steps can be hard work however.
Distance: 1.6 km / 1 mile
Ascent: 190 m / 550 feet (minimal ascent if using in reverse for the descent)
Terrain: steps, forest path, grass path
This route starts from a layby on the Hill Road where the Harran Hill and The Avenue Routes exit Lochore Meadows Park. If you approached by Benarty House, turn right on to the Hill Road for 400m to reach the layby.
From Lochore Meadows 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 point and continue on upwards on the path in a now westerly direction.
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 point it then cross the fence on to 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, going directly up the hill, also crossing the bulldozed track at one point.
Once across the fence a well trodden path now leads across moorland for about 0.7km to reach the summit trig point. At the trig point, walk over to the nearby fence to take in the views northwards across Loch Leven.
A route that makes use of the new link path between Vane Farm and Lochore Meadows.
Distance: 3.4 km / 2 miles
Ascent: 230 m / 730 feet (60 m / 200 feet if used for descent)
Terrain: steps, forest track / path, surfaced path, grassy hill path
The route starts at the layby on the Hill Road opposite the gate to Lochore Meadows. If approaching via Benarty House, turn right on to the Hill Road for 450m to reach this point.
From Lochore Meadows 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 right at this point so that you continue eastwards around the hillside.
After about 500m the path meets a forest road where you turn left heading up the hill. At the edge of the forest, you join the new surfaced path which you use to skirt around the edge of some conifers. Once around the trees, leave the main path using a rough trodden path up a steep slope to your left. Once up the short section of slope cross broken fences on to the open hillside. Follow the fence away from the trees until you pick up a grassy path. This path can now be followed for about 1km along the ridge line of Benarty to reach the summit area. Navigation is straightforward on this section as you have the fence on your right to follow.
Mix and match the above hill routes and approach routes to create your own personal walk. An extra variation you could include with either the Harran Hill or Benarty House approach is to walk around the southern shore of Loch Ore to enjoy views across the loch to the hill.
Approach Route Maps
View / download Harran Hill Approach Route from Viewranger
View / download Harran Hill Approach Route from Ordnance Survey
View / download Benarty House Approach Route from Viewranger
View / download Benarty House Approach Route from Ordnance Survey
View / download The Avenue Approach Route from Viewranger
View / download The Avenue Approach Route from Ordnance Survey
Hill Route Maps
View / download Benarty Hill West Route from Viewranger
View / download Benarty Hill West Route from Ordnance Survey
View / download Benarty Hill Woodland Track Route from Viewranger
View / download Benarty Hill Woodland Track Route from Ordnance Survey
View / download Benarty Hill Steps Route from Viewranger
View / download Benarty Hill Steps Route from Ordnance Survey
View / download Benarty Hill East Route from Viewranger
View / download Benarty Hill East Route from Ordnance Survey
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