Cullaloe Hills and Pilkham Hills

Hills: Cullaloe Hills (219m), Pilkham Hills (194m), Templehall Hill (167m).

The Cullaloe Hills is the name given to the 219 m upland area to the north of Aberdour. Clad in both mixed woodland and forestry plantation, with their northern slopes eaten away by quarry workings, they would be fairly non descript if it wasn’t for the two follies (Cullaloe Temple and Culllaloe Tower) to be found amongst the trees. Reaching the follies is easy enough from the north east side but there are also other walking opportunities for the walker who doesn’t mind a bit of rough ground and mud.

As well as the main forestry area it is also worth exploring the surrounding woodlands. To the south west, on the opposite side of the Crossgates to Aberdour road, is a woodland path to Couston and Otterstone Loch taking you past Mount Laura Tower. To the north east on the opposite side of the A909, is the Old North Road path crossing the 194m Pilkham Hills.

Cullaloe Hills and Follies

There are three normal points of access to the area, the gate at the south side where there is no suitable parking, the forest track entrance on the A909 to the north east where there is room to park 2 – 3 cards and a layby on the B9157 at NT 186 877. If parking at the forest entrance please do not block the gate as this is a working forest and access may be required by large vehicles. The route suggested below starts from the B9157 road layby, includes both follies and the high point of the hills.

Full route

Distance: 6 km / 3.8 miles

Ascent: 200 m / 680 feet

Start / finish: near Aberdour

Facilities: parking in a layby at NT 186 877 opposite Cullaloe Nature Reserve. Other facilities in Aberdour

Other walks in the area:  Old North Road and Cullaloe

The actual start of the walk is about 50m along the road from the layby towards Kirkcaldy and it is necessary to walk along the grass verge of the road for this distance to reach the foot of a farm track where a gate has now been installed.

Once on the farm track, follow it across the fields until you reach a woodland area and then around the field edge. Don’t be tempted to short cut across the field whilst there are crops growing in it and keep dogs away from the crops.

The track takes you into the woodland and soon you encounter some broken wooden gates. At this point leave the main track turning left onto a grass track through an open metal gate. As you progress along this track it starts to become a bit rougher. Cross over (or walk round) an old fence and turn right along a field edge. When you reach the corner of the field go through an openable gate to your right into another field area. Keep left and follow the edge of this field to reach another gate on your left. Although unlocked this gate can be awkward to open. If you climb it please do so at the hinged end which will cause less damage.

You are now back into woodland at the foot of a firebreak. Head up the hill towards the firebreak until you reach an obvious ditch. Don’t cross the ditch but go left onto a rough path, around a fallen tree. There’s a concrete block on the right at the foot of the fire break which also acts as a marker. Keep on the path with the fallen tree, proceeding in a south west direction through some more fallen trees until you reach a fence. The path now becomes grassy and follows the right hand side of the fence turning right at a fence corner and becoming overgrown. If you lose the path, just follow the line of the fence uphill for a short distance to reach a T junction with an obvious path.

Go right on to this path which takes you gently uphill to join a forest track. At this point you should be able to see Cullaloe Temple ahead of you. However, rather than go the direct way, go left on to the grassy track for a loop around the back of the hills and views across the open countryside to the north. The track loops around the hill and brings you back to Cullaloe Temple the first of the two follies.

From the temple go left onto the main forest track heading in a north east direction to reach a Y junction. Keep left at this junction leaving the main track for a grassy track which starts to get overgrown and a bit damp. At the Y junction you can choose whether to stick to the overgrown and somewhat damp path that takes you direct to Cullaloe Tower or head left up a mountain bike trail to follow the crest of the hills. If you choose the latter once up, there is a grass footpath alongside the fence that you can follow passing the 219m high point with views over the quarry! The hill path will bring you back down the hill rejoining the main path close to Cullaloe Tower.

After the tower, follow the path around the corner and then bear left up a grassy bank to reach a grassy knoll. Again follow a path line along the side of the fence, this time with views across to Mossmorran. The path descends somewhat steeply in places back down the hill to meet the forest track near to the east entrance gate. This final section of path can be a bit awkward and it is recommended that you wear decent boots with good grip.

Go right onto the forest track and enjoy the novelty of walking on a surfaced track! Pass the Y junction where you were earlier (it might not be too obvious approaching from this direction) and keep a look out on your left for where the thin strip of trees turns to a forestry plantation.

About 20m beyond where the forest starts, look very carefully for a feint path to your left leading into the forest. At this point you should just see Cullaloe Temple appearing ahead of you. If you reach a point where you notice a white ribbon tied to a tree on your left you have gone too far. Go left on to this path heading south east downhill into the forest. If you cannot find the path, turn into the forest at approximately the half way point between the white ribbon and the start of the forest.

As you head down the hill you may find you lose the path and need to pick your own way through the trees (which is easily done without any difficulty). To your left you should be able to see the open field and to your right is a fire break – just keep between the two. It is possible to walk down the fire break but the way is barred in places due to fallen trees. If you keep to your right you will be able to join the fire break after the fallen trees at which point there is a bit of a path which makes for easier walking. Try to join the fire break before you reach a ditch at the bottom of the hill.

At the foot of the fire break you will reach the gate that you crossed earlier before you turned left passed the fallen tree. Climb the gate again and go right to reach the second gate which is easily opened. Go left down the edge of the field looking for the broken fence on your left that indicates the start of the path that will take you back to the road. Don’t forget to turn right when you join the more obvious track so that you go round the edge of the fields down to the road.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Cullaloe Easy Option

If you want an easy walk to the follies, then start from the forestry gate on the A909 south east of the Beverkae Roundabout and walk along the main forest track to Cullaloe Temple. Do the loop around the back of the hill at the temple then start to walk back to the parking area but keep left at the Y junction to visit Cullaloe Tower . Retrace your foosteps to the Y junction. Then return to the parking area along the forest track. This walk is just 2.5 miles with less than 100m of ascent. The majority of the walk is on surfaced forest track although the detour to Cullaloe Temple is on a somewhat damp grassy path.

If starting from this point, please do not block the forestry gate as access may be required for large vehicles. There is only parking for about 3 cars without blocking the gate.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Alternative Access

Access is also possible from the Crossgates to Aberdour road at NT 173 864. From here a there is a path through the woods alongside the disused Goathill Quarry, that meets the forest track at Cullaloe Temple.

Pilkham Hills, Templehall Hill and The Old North Road

Across the A909 road from Cullaloe is the 194m high point known as Pilkham Hill. A stile and a signpost for the Old North Road indicate the start of the route almost directly opposite the forest entrance. The path takes the walker from Cullaloe to Templehall. Beyond Templehall it is possible to continue along the Old North Road route to Stenhouse. The section between Cullaloe and Templehall can be very wet underfoot in places so walking boots/gaiters are highly recommended.

Reaching the Pilkham Hills is easy (easier than Cullaloe). After crossing the stile, follow the grassy track uphill. Leave the path going up through the easily negotiated tress towards the area of the wind turbine. Once out of the trees it is a grassy walk across to the high point. From here it is also possible to visit the trig point on the other side of the B925. A track and gate makes access out to the road straightforward. Once over the road there is a bit of a path to the trig avoiding the gorse bushes.

Templehall Hill les at the southen end of this section of the Old North Road close to where the path rejoins the public road. The hill summit is in a grassy pasture field and is easily reached from the path via an openable gate at NT 20085 88961. From here it is an easy walk following the fence line, and a sheep path through the gorse, to reach the summit.

route map
Red: full route; Blue: easy/short option; Grey: Old North Road and other paths