West Lomond

At 522m West Lomond is the highest point in Fife. It is thus a very popular hill no doubt contributed to by the ease of the ascent along the “motorway” from Craigmead. With a little imagination however, alternative and more aesthetically pleasing routes are possible. The options described below can be mixed and matched to make your own circular route. Variations on these routes are also possible providing a multitude of route choices.

Distances and ascent are given for one way only. When used as a descent route only the Arraty Den route has more than 100m of ascent and most routes have considerably less than that.

Overview map of West Lomond routes
Overview of West Lomond Routes

Blue: Routes from Craigmead

Yellow: Routes from Falkland

Green: Routes from Holl

Red: Routes from the west

Grey: Link between Holl and Craigmead

For detailed route maps click the Viewranger and Ordnance Survey links in the route descriptions.

From Craigmead

Most peopple think of Craigmead as being the start point when they think of West Lomond and indeed this provides the easiest and busiest route to the summit along the “motorway”. However, Craigmead also offers other route options, including Craigen Gaw for the more adventurous walker.

Start / finish: Craigmead Car park between Leslie and Falkland at NO 227 061

Facilities: Car park (free) with public toilets and picnic benches. Refreshments in Falkland

Direct via the “motorway”

Distance: 3.8 km / 2.4 miles

Ascent: 230 m / 750 feet

Terrain: Landrover track followed by grassy path

Exit the car park following a path through the trees to reach a grassy track where you turn left following a red arrow. Keep on this obvious track for 3km walking towards West Lomond. When you reach the foot of the hill you have the option of heading directly up the steep grassy slope in front of you or following the track as it circles around the hill for a more gentle approach from the west. A very busy route.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Via Ballo Castle

Distance: 3.9 km / 2.4 miles

Ascent: 250 m / 820 feet

Terrain: Farm track, muddy field path, steep eroded path up hill

The route starts 300m south of the Craigmead cark park on the gravel track to Little Ballo. Follow this track for 1.4 km (don’t take the left hand turn for the farm )to its termination at Ballo Castle. Beyond a gate the track continues as a field path (muddy in places) towards West Lomond. The path turns right at a pedestrian gate (don’t go through the gate) and goes steeply uphill alongside a gully. A stile is crossed at a fence after which the gradient eases. From the foot of the hill there is a steep eroded path directly up the south east slope passing an old quarry to the summit. Alternatively you can circle the hill anti-clockwise on a trodden path to reach the main path on the north side and follow it around to the west side for a more gentle ascent.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Via Maiden Castle and Craigen Gaw

A route for the more adventurous walker. If attempting it in poor visibility some basic navigation skills will be required.

Distance: 4.1 km / 2.5 miles

Ascent: 270 m / 890 feet

Terrain: Rough paths on tussocky grass, some steep ground

Leave the car park through the trees following the blue arrow (path to Falkland), passing through some gates to reach a track. Turn left on the track for 200m before picking up a rough moorland path on your right at the edge of the trees. Follow this path north west towards forestry and then alongside the edge of the forest (don’t go through the gate into the forest). Keep north west to reach the obvious grassy hummock of the Maiden Castle fort.

From here follow a rough path westwards crossing a fence. Keep to the path in a roughly north west direction avoiding losing height. The path starts to go slightly uphill below some craggy ground. Look behind you from time to time for good views back to the Maiden Castle. The path continues to rise and meets a fence with a lift up gate. Crawl through the gate (designed for sheep) or climb the fence.

At this point you can take the easier option, up the steep grassy slope following the fence until you meet the main landrover track from Craigmead and follow it to the hill. However, for a more satisfying route keep to the path which is now somewhat rougher and not much more than a sheep path. The path contours around steep craggy ground, rounds a corner and reaches a gully with cliffs either side. This area is marked on the OS maps as Craigen Gaw.

Clamber up the “maw of the gaw” which is steep and rough but straightforward. At the top is flat ground with paths. Pick up a path in a roughly southerly direction to cross this ground and join the main Craigmead landrover track. Either head straight up the hill or follow the track anti-clockwise around the hill for a more gentle ascent.

At no time on this route are you ever more than 500m distant from the “Craigmead Motorway”. However, it could be 500 miles in terms of character and quietness.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

From Falkland

The routes from Craigmead can easily be combined with routes starting from Falkland. Two options are described for walking from Falkland to Craigmead from where you can pick up one of the Craigmead routes above. A further route from Falkland via Arraty Den is also provided.

Start / finish: The Stables, Falkland Estate (alternatively the new car park at Pillars of Hercules could be used)

Facilities: Car Park at the Stables (donations requested) or Pillars of Hercules. Refreshments at the Stables, Pillars of Hercules or in Falkland. Public toilets in Falkland.

Via the Maspie Den

The Maspie Den is a lovely walk up to Craigmead. However, bear in mind that this area has been suffering badly from erosion and is subject to path closures, please follow signage or check with the Falkland Centre of Stewardship for latest information and be prepared to divert from the route as described.

Distance: 6 km / 3.7 miles

Ascent: 450 m / 1480 feeet

Terrain: Muddy paths up the Maspie Den, surfaced track and grass path up the hill

From The Stables there is a signed route up the Maspie Den. There are a variety of paths and various options are available. An alternative route into the Maspie Den is via the old chapel. However, this route misses out on one of the highlights, the wee tunnel.

Once in the den, keep close to the burn where possible for the most aesthetically pleasing experience, although this can also be a bit muddy at times. The paths criss cross the burn before arriving at the Yad Waterfall (which you can walk behind). If the paths close to the burn are closed there is a surfaced path on the north west bank at a slightly higher level.

From the waterfall a well maintained path heads up to Craigmead where you turn right onto the main track to West Lomond. Alternatively you could use the Ballo or Craigen Gaw routes from Craigmead.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Via Tyndall Bruce Monument

An alternative route to reach the Craigmead area.

Distance: 6.8 km / 4.2 miles

Ascent: 460 m / 1500 feet

Terrain: Woodland paths and tracks. Landrover track on the hill.

Start as for Maspie Den following the sign posted routes up the Den until you reach the “bridge under a bridge” where a wooden footbridge passes underneath a stone road bridge. Turn right at this point leaving the Den on the track to Westfield. You can avoid Westfield by keeping on the path close to the burn and keeping right at a red marker post. Keep straight on at the next marker and start to go up hill on a winding path.

Keep uphill on the wiggly path until you reach another marker post and a rock sign for the Temple of Decision. Keep straight on (don’t follow the arrows) towards the Tyndall Bruce Monument. At the next junction you have the option of a short detour (right) to explore the monument.

Ignore the marker which seems to point into the woods where there is no path and keep straight on. Follow the track round to the left uphill to reach another junction with a marker post. Keep straight on (ignore the arrow) and almost immediately after the marker is a trodden path leading steeply up hill on your right. If you reach a quarry area you have gone too far.

Follow the path up through the woods to reach a (broken) stile where you need to cross the fence on to a strip of grassland. Another broken stile on the opposite side of the grass takes you back into woodland. Keep to this, sometimes muddy, path through the forest in a roughly southerly direction to emerge at a gate onto the moorland. From here, a trodden path takes you to the “Craigmead motorway” close to the car park, from where you can use the direct route to the West Lomond. Alternatively choose one of the other Craigmead routes if you prefer. Another alternative would be to turn right at the strip of grass between the two broke stiles, cross a gate and follow a rough moorland path to the Maiden Castle fort.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey

View / download this route from Viewranger

Via Arraty Den and Craigen Gaw

Another more challenging route that gets you away from the crowds. If you don’t want to do the Craigen Gaw section a rough moorland path from the top of Arraty Den will take you to the “Craigmead motorway”. Navigation skills would be beneficial if doing the full route in poor visibility.

Distance: 6.4 km / 4 miles

Ascent: 500 m / 1600 feet

Terrain: Forest paths/tracks followed by open moorland. Some rough steep sections.

This route starts from the Stables where you proceed as if for the Maspie Den (don’t use the chapel route). After crossing a stone bridge at Falkland House leave the main path on a narrow trodden path (opposite a bench) to join the road to Westfield turning left on to the road. Turn right onto a track which rapidly becomes a path between two hedges heading west. The path terminates at a barrier gate where you enter the woodland and pass through an “arch”. Keep right at both this junction and the next junction passing an information board. Approximately 150m after the information board, pick up a trodden path on your left via a section of board walk. After about 300m on this path turn left on to a maintained woodland path.

Stick with this path following occasional orange marker posts and passing under the Kilgour Crags. After the cliffs, the path bears left and heads uphill to reach a junction with a forest track. We are going to go right at this junction to the Arraty Den. However, before doing so it is worth a short detour to your left to pick up a trodden path that leads to a viewpoint on the edge of the cliffs. There is no fence so be careful and keep an eye on children and dogs! Return to the junction and head south west on the forest track for 700m passing more crags on your left. Soon after the crags is an open area, after which you will spot a large boulder on your left. To the left of this boulder is the start of a feint path up the hill.

The path is a steep, rough ascent up scrubby ground. There are no real difficulties though. If using it for a descent route a pair of walking poles would be useful. A gate / stile at the top provides access out onto open moorland.

Follow the a rough path across the moor in a roughly south west direction. For an easier option you can stick with this path until it joins the “Craigmead motorway” close to the Maiden Castle. However, if you are up for a more challenging option go right when you reach a sheep path and follow it roughly westwards. There are actually two vaguely parallel paths to choose from, an upper and a lower one. It doesn’t really matter which you use provided you are heading west. Both paths reach a fence with a lift up gate through which you need to crawl (or climb the fence).

At this point you can take the easier option, up the steep grassy slope following the fence to join the “Craigmead motorway” and follow it to the hill. However, for a more satisfying route keep to the path which is now somewhat rougher and not much more than a sheep path. The path contours around steep craggy ground, rounds a corner to reach a gully with cliffs either side. This area is marked on the OS maps as Craigen Gaw.

Clamber up the “maw of the gaw” which is steep and rough but straightforward. At the top is flat ground with paths. Pick up a path in a roughly southerly direction to cross this ground and join the main Craigmead landrover track. Either head straight up the hill or follow the track anti-clockwise around the hill for a more gentle ascent.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger

From Holl Reservoir

Two routes from the Holl Reservoir car park are described. However, further variations on these routes are possible. These routes can also be combined with Craigmead routes. Thus there are many possibilities for a circular route.

Start / finish: Holl Reservoir car park at grid ref NO 224 035, accessed from the A911

Facilities: Free car park

Via Harperleas Dam

Distance: 5.3 km / 3.3 miles

Ascent: 330 m / 1080 feet

Terrain: Surfaced track to the dam, grass field path, steep eroded path up hill

From the Holl car park continue on foot clockwise around the side of the reservoir. Keep to the main track as it leaves the reservoir, crosses moorland/fields and reaches the Harpeleas Reservoir. Cross the dam on a path to reach the far side and follow the grassy path that leads to a farm track. Turn left at this point and go through a gate to follow a field path (muddy in places) towards West Lomond. The path turns right at a pedestrian gate (don’t go through the gate) and goes steeply uphill alongside a gully. A stile is crossed at a fence after which the gradient eases. From the foot of the hill there is a steep eroded path directly up the south east slope passing an old quarry to the summit. Alternatively you can circle the hill anti-clockwise on a trodden path to reach the main path on the north side and follow it around to the west side for a more gentle ascent.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Via Harperleas Woods

Distance: 6.2 km / 3.8 miles

Ascent: 375 m / 1230 feet

Terrain: Farm track, woodland path (muddy at times), rough hill path

From the car park walk back down the road to the crossroads where you want to turn right following the signs for Bishop Hill. Keep to the track for 1.7km passing a barn on your left and woods on your right. Leave the main track on a field track to your right 400m beyond the woods. Keep on the track crossing the fields to reach Harperleas Woods. A, sometimes muddy, path weaves its way through the woods in a mostly northerly direction. The path exits the woods to join the Harperleas to Glen Vale path where you want to turn left.

After approximately 800m on this path you pass through a gate and reach a replica boundary stone. From here a rough path goes off to your right up the hillside. Go through a pedestrian gate to join the route coming in from Ballo Castle. The path now makes its way steeply uphill beside a gully to a stile. Once over the stile the gradient eases and you reach the foot of West Lomond. From here there is a steep eroded path directly up the south east slope, past an old quarry, to the summit. Alternatively you can circle the hill anti-clockwise on a trodden path to reach the main path on the north side and follow it around to the west side for a more gentle ascent.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

From the West

Two routes are described from the west side . These routes can easily be linked into a circuit by walking along the quiet Dryside Road between the two start points.

From the Bunnet Stane

A good route if somewhat steep and includes the well known geological landmark of the Bunnet Stane / Maiden’s Bower.

Distance: 3 km / 1.9 miles

Ascent: 385 m / 1260 feet

Terrain: Grassy paths (steep ascent)

Start / finish: layby on Dryside Road at NO 185 068

Facilities: limited free parking

There is a path from the parking area taking you across the fields to the area of the Bunnet Stane and Maiden’s Bower. It’s worth spending a few minutes here before tackling the next section. From the rock formation, a grass path heads steeply up the hill, turning left to follow an old fence line. A grass gully is reached which provides a steep ascent up the hill, but for an easier option stick with the path until you reach a flat area of moorland. Cross this area in a south east direction to join the wide landrover track from Craigmead.

You now have the option of heading directly up the steep grassy slope in front of you or following the track as it circles anti-clockwise around the hill for a more gentle approach to the summit.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Via Glen Vale

Another good route although Glen Vale can be very busy at times and parking may be an issue (do not block the road, there needs to be access for wide farm and emergency vehicles). This route includes the geological features John Knox’s Pulpit and the Devil’s Burdens.

Distance: 4.2 km / 2.6 miles

Ascent: 370 m / 1215 feet

Terrain: Surfaced path up Glenvale, trodden path through heather to summit

Start / finish: Glen Vale car park on Dryside Road at NO 172 069

Facilities: Limited free parking with picnic tables

The path up Glen Vale starts 200m south-west of the car park. The path has been resurfaced in recent years and provides an easy means of gaining height as it meanders upwards beside the burn. When the path splits, the surfaced route crosses the burn to continue up its southern side. There has been rockfall on the northern side path so be careful if using this option. After passing the rock formation known as John Knox’s Pulpit, the paths meet again at the high point of the Glen Vale path.

From here, leave the surfaced path using a rough path through the heather up West Lomond to your left. When the heather abates you reach a dusty dessert like area. The Devil’s Burdens rocks are a short detour to your left here. The legend says that they were created when the devil threw them at the local witch, Maggie, whom he later turned to stone. From this point the path continues upwards to reach a fence with a stile after which there is a further 100m of ascent on a grass path to the summit.

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey.

View / download this route from Viewranger.

Combining Routes

Most of the routes described above can be combined into circular walks.

The Craigmead routes can easily be linked with the Falkland routes. Use either the Maspie Den or the Tyndall Bruce routes to return to your start point.

The Craigmead and Holl Reservoir routes can also be combined by linking them using a path around the east side of Holl and Ballo Reservoir. The Harperleas Dam and Little Ballo track can also be used to link Craigmead and Holl.

The Glen Vale and Bunnet Stane routes are linked via a walk along the quiet Dryside Road.

Other variations on these routes are possible and it is worth bearing in mind that whatever direction you approach West Lomond from, you can choose your final ascent route by using a trodden path that completely circles the base of the hill.

Other walks nearby:

East Lomond

Bishop Hill

All he Lomonds

© 2020 Fife Walking. All rights reserved. If using this route for a group or organised walk, or as the basis for publishing a route elsewhere please credit Fife Walking as being your source of information.