Exploration of the quieter western end of the Benarty ridge combined with a circuit of Lochore.
Distance: 8.2 miles / 13 km
Ascent: 1200 feet / 380 m
Start / finish: Lochore Meadows
Facilities: Cafe, parking and toilets at Lochore Meadows Park Centre/Outdoor Centre. Bus service passes entrance to 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 being rebuilt and a temporary cafe has been 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. 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 across the 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 admiring the views, turn left to follow the path alongside the fence downhill to a dip. After the dip, go directly up the hillside in front of you to reach the site of an old hill fort. Beyond the fort, the path continues along the ridge following the fence to reach a fence junction. At this point cross to the other side of the fence (the Loch Leven side) and continue to follow the path over lumps and bumps, now on the opposite of the fence/wall. As well as admiring the view of Loch leven, don’t forget to look back from time to time for views of the cliffs immediately below the trig point. Another fence/wall needs to be crossed and another hillock reached before the path descends to a reedy area.
After this the ground starts to become more gentle with less lumps and bumps. At a dip where the path turns right to go down hill, leave the obvious path to stay close to the wall on a feinter path. When the fence turns left, cross the wall to walk in the space between the fence and wall. Note the sign that you pass regarding the rifle range. Go downhill beside the fence passing some posts and another sign to reach a corner of the field with three gates.
Go through the right hand gate (if you decide to climb it, please do so at the hinged end) into a grassy field. The next two fields may be home to cattle. If they have calves, give them a wide berth and don’t get between the mother and calf. If you have a dog, keep it close to you. Start to go downhill away from the fence, keeping to the right hand side of a hillock in front of you.
Aim for a mobile phone mast close to the edge of the woods. Near to the mast you should be able to find the start of a track going downhill across the field. Initially the track follows the same route as the overhead powerlines. Follow the track downhill through another gate (openable) into a second field. The track now veers left and crosses the field to reach a locked gate taking you out on to the Hill Road opposite a woodland.
Turn left on to the Hill Road for about 400m. Turn right through a gate past a lodge house. Follow this driveway but keep right instead of turning left to the big house. The driveway now becomes more of a track through woodland with pheasants. At the end of the woodland you will pass through some gates with a small housing development to your left. The track has now become a road and will take you back to the west access road into Lochore Meadows. When you join the access road, turn left. After about 0.5km there is a gate and path to your right. Go right through this gate and follow the path, as it circumnavigates Lochore in an anti-clockwise direction, back to your starting point. If this seems a bit too much, keep straight on, on the road instead of going through the gate, to reach the Banarty Bay car park and then retrace your outward route.
View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.
View / download this route from Viewranger.
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