A reasonably easy (though muddy in places) walk to the 236 m summit of Ormiston Hill (Black Cairn Hill) above Newburgh. The site of an ancient hillfort, the summit is these days well protected by gorse bushes. However, a route through them is possible to reach the summit cairn. The descent route heads down the east side of the hill to utilise a core path for the return to Newburgh.
Distance: 5 km / 3 miles
Ascent: 280 m / 900 feet
Terrain: grassy hillside, muddy paths/tracks
Start / finish: Banklands, Newburgh (KY14 6DN). Grid reference NO 229 178
Facilities: Refreshments at Lindores Abbey, Buttercup Cafe (East Port Garage) or other options in Newburgh, on street parking in residential area, bus service to Newburgh.
Other walks in the area: Norman’s Law and Glenduckie Hill
From the corner of Banklands, follow atarmac track uphill to a reservoir / water works where a gate to your left provides access to an unsurfaced path. Keep on this somewhat overgrown path until you reach the 3rd gate (a double gate set up with a new metal gate and an old wooden gate).
After passing through these gates, take the right hand fork when the path splits, heading uphill through gorse bushes. The gorse soon gives way to an open grassy hillside. Livestock may be encoutered on the open hill. Head up the hillside keeping a wall / fence to your right. Don’t forget to stop from time to time to look back at the views opening up over the Tay.
In Autumn 2019 there was an easily negotiated temporary electric fence part way up the hillside. Either crawl under it or unhook it at the fence (put it back afterwards).
A gate provides a means of crossing a fence in front of you, although it may be easier climbing it as it is awkward to open. Continue up the hill keeping a fence to your right until you reach a stile at grid ref NO 234 172. Cross the stile and go through a wooden pedestrian gate to reach a trodden path. The path will now take you up to the summit cairn through the gorse and bracken. Long sleeves / trousers are advisable at this point. Accessing the summit by any means other than the stile / gate is likely to entail a battle with the gorse!
The summit cairn is totally surrounded by gorse bushes and if you want to see over them to enjoy the views you will need to stand on top of the cairn!
Return by the path to the wooden pedestrian gate and stile. Once on the other side aim roughly eastwards over a small coll and start to descend in a south east direction down the grassy hillside. You will soon pick up an obvious path / track that takes you all the way down the hill to reach a gate. Go through the gate in front of you (not the one to your right) and cross the grassy field on a path / track to reach a stand of trees on the far side.
Go through a gate, on a now wide and somewhat muddy track, turning left around the outside of the trees. Follow this track (a core path) roughly north until you reach the edge of the quarry. Walk through a wooden pedestrian gate on your left on to a cut grass path between the fields and the quarry. The path starts to climb back uphill as it circumnavigates around the south side of the quarry.
After passing through another wooden pedestrian gate the path turns right (north) skirting some gorse bushes. Keep to the path at the quarry edge which will turn right (east) alongside the northern edge of the quarry. This section of the path is clad with gorse but the bushes are kept trimmed and the path is easy to follow. A couple of bench seats are passed on route at this point.
When you reach a bench with a core path arrow marker post the path splits two ways. A short detour can be made by following the right hand option up to a viewpoint with a picnic table. Return to the marker post and take the other (left hand) option turning north west. A grassy path through the gorse brings you to a second marker post.
Keep to the left at this point (turning right will take you to Monkswell Road which could be used as an alternative start / finish for the walk). The path proceeds in a westerly (ish) direction. After approximately 550m you will reach the double gate formation where the main path turns left up the hill. Keep straight on so that you go through the double gates and follow your outward route back to the reservoir and road.
NB: In Autumn 2019 blasting times at the quarry were advised as being Monday, Wednesday, Friday between 1pm and 2pm.
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