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.
Today, the Old North Road is the name given to the route from Dunearn (Stenhouse) to Mossmorran. Historically this would have been part of a route from Burntisland northwards. Cullaloe Hills, Pilkham Hills and Templehall Hill (along with Montquey Hill and Dunearn Hill) are short detours off The Old North Road.
Old North Road and Cullaloe suggested circular route
A number of options for a circular route taking in both the Old North Road and the Cullaloe Hills are possible.
Distance: 16km / 10 miles ( 19km /
Ascent: 360m ( 400m / with Burntisland
Terrain: Very mixed from easy coastal path and quiet roads, to swampy ground along The Old North Road. Walking boots essential for the wetter parts and gaiters recommended.
Starting from Aberdour head out of the village towards Burntisland to reach the sharp right hand corner on the road outside the village. At this point take extreme care and cross over the road to join the farm track on the left hand side. Almost immediately turn right onto a path signposted for Dunearn. Keep to this path uphill through the woods (can be overgrown) and then across fields with views out over the Forth, to reach Dunearn.
A longer option is to head out of Aberdour along the coastal path to Burntisland. On reaching Burntisland head to the start of the “gorse path” at NT 2202 8665 on the A909. From here follow the gorse path up to the Standing Stane road at Dunearn.
To avoid walking along the busy road round the corner it is possible to use a field route to reach Stenhouse Reservoir. North of the Dunearn junction is a openable gate into a field on the east side of the road. Follow the field edges down the hill to reach a path through woodland to Stenhouse Reservoir. From here either walk around the reservoir (optional) or turn left to the road and then walk down the obvious access road for the fishery. At the fork in the road, go left up to the cottages and then follow this track (part of the Old North Road) over fields to reach cottages and a farm at Balmule on the B9157.
Cross over the road and follow the quiet road opposite, up to Puddledub. Where the current road turns sharp right, a signpost for the Old North Road points left. Follow this sign along the track past the cottages.
For the hill bagger there is an optional ascent to Templehall Hill from this point.
Continue on along the track veering left through a pedestrian gate onto a grassy path. After another pedestrian gate the path enters woodland and starts to become somewhat wet underfoot. There is some boardwalk in the wetter sections and scotways markers and white ribbons help with the route finding. After crossing a stile the path becomes very wet and much less obvious. Follow the direction of a wall and overhead power lines. At a large gatepost cross to the south side of the wall away from the main track which turns north.
For the hill bagger there is an optional ascent of Pilkham Hills and the associated trig pillar from this point.
Once on the south side of the wall follow the route of a drier path keeping up high until the woods are exited and the path winds its way down the hill to a sheep fank where a stile can be used to reach the road.
Cross the road to reach the forestry entrance opposite. The easiest walk is to stick to the forest track but diversions through the woods and to the crest of the hills are possible. Keep with the main track for about 1km to reach an open area where a communications mast once stood. At this point there is the option to double back on the right hand side to make a detour to Cullaloe Tower (about 1km there and back). Also, from this point, is a mountain bike track that can be used to reach the high point. Continuing south west, Cullaloe Temple is soon reached. For views northwards, there is an optional loop around the back of the Temple. The path continues south west along the rim of the old quarry, making its way downhill to reach a road.
Turn right on to the road for 50m to reach the next turning on the opposite side of the road where a new house has been built. Turn left on to the farm track following it along field edges beside the woods. Keep to the line of the woods on a rough path. Cross over a field track and pick up a rough path through the woods in a roughly southerly direction. At the bottom end of the woods to the left is Mount Laura Tower a 19th centaury lookout tower. The path makes it’s way out to a quiet road. Turn left on to this road walking downhill passing Otterston Loch. After 1km the road passes under the railway and meets the main road.
Cross over the main road and turn left on to the pavement on the opposite side for almost 500m. At this point, the quickest way back to Aberdour is to walk along the pavement following the road. However, a better route is to turn right at the roundabout towards Braefoot Terminal. 700m down this road the route of the coastal path crosses the road and can be used to walk back to Aberdour. An alternative would be to cut off the corner by using a field edge path to Downans Plantation and join the coastal path from there.
Cullaloe Hills and Follies
Distance: 6 km / 3.8 miles
Ascent: 200 m / 680 feet
Terrain: Rough paths in places which can be steep and wet underfoot. Walking boots recommended.
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.
From the layby opposite Cullaloe Nature Reserve, there is a field access track heading up the hills. The track starts about 50m north of the layby, towards Kirkcaldy. A gate has recently been installed at the start of the track which may need to be climbed.
Once on the track follow it across the fields to 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 enters the woodland and reaches some broken wooden gates. At this point leave the main track turning left onto a grass track through an open metal gate. Cross over or walk round an old fence and turn right to follow a field edge to the corner of the field. Go through the gate on the right and keep left along the field edge to reach a further gate on the left. Once though the gate head up the hill aiming for a fire break. At an obvious ditch, head away from the firebreak by going left on a rough path around a fallen tree. Proceed roughly south westerly passing more fallen trees to reach a fence. The path can be hard to follow in the summer when it is overgrown but if in doubt follow the fence line uphill until an obvious path is reached. Go right on to the path at this point, gently uphill to join the main forest track.
Turning right at this points takes the walker directly to Cullaloe Temple. However, by turning left it is possible to add an optional loop around the back of the hills with views across the open countryside to the north. From the temple continue in a north east direction to reach a Y junction. At this point the left hand fork heads directly to Cullaloe Temple via a grassy and sometimes wet path.
The more adventurous walker who wants to include the crest of the hills and the actual summit can head left up a mountain bike trail from this point. Once up, there is a grass footpath alongside a fence that passes the 219m high point. The hill path comes 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, 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. If not comfortable with this, then simply return to the Y junction from Cullaloe Tower.
Go right on the main forest track passing the earlier Y junction (it might not be too obvious approaching from this direction) and keep an eye to 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 this feint 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 the path can be a bit awkward to follow and you may 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 a gate that you crossed earlier. 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.
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.
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.
Route Map of Cullaloe Hills area
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. 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 lies at the southern end of this section of the Old North Road close to where the path rejoins the public road at Puddledub. 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.