2022 New Year Challenge

New Year Challenge

Are you looking for a walking challenge for the start of a new year? Did you know that Fife has 114 hills listed on the Database of British and Irish Hills? Whilst most people are probably familiar with the likes of the Lomonds, Benarty Hill, Knock Hill etc, there are many many more hills out there waiting to be explored.

We don’t have munros but we do have relative hills in Fife and are able to boast seven marilyns. Relative hills are maybe a slightly unusual concept at first, as it’s not the height that is important. Rather it is the drop (prominence) between it and it neighbouring hills. Thus a marilyn doesn’t need to be particularly high, just so long as it has got a 150m drop all around it. In fact some of our highest munros don’t qualify as marilyns!

Challenge Number 1 – Fife’s Seven Marilyns

HillProminence (drop)
West Lomond405m
Benarty Hill 228m
Norman’s Law209m
Largo Law197m
Mount Hill163m
East Lomond155m
Cairnie Hill150.4m

The good thing about these hills is that they all have straightforward, pathed routes up them, and in most cases the routes are short. If that sounds too easy, then how about completing them all in the same day? It can be done.

Challenge Number 2 – Fife’s 14 Humps

Moving down the scale of relativity, we move from Marilyns to Humps. Yes, really! Hump being an abbreviation for Hundred Metre and Upward Prominence. These are all hills that have an all round drop of at least 100m. In addition to the seven marilyns already mentioned there are a further seven hills that make it into the Hump category.

Lumbennie Hill139m
Lucklaw Hill117m
Cowden Hill116m
Knock Hill112m
Black Hill104m
Saline Hill104m
Ormiston Hill103m

The challenge is starting now as not all of these hills have paths right to the summit. Lumbennie Hill and Black Hill have their summits in forestry, so it’s necessary to make your way up the final section of the hill through the trees. And beware if you decide to walk between Knock Hill and Saline Hill, the bit in between is boggy! Except for the ones with their summits in trees, they’ve all got pretty decent views.

Challenge Number 3 – Fife’s nine hills over 300m

Okay, so perhaps this idea of prominence isn’t really your thing and it’s actual height that appeals to you. Although Fife’s hills are not the highest, nine of them are over 300m and form the basis for challenge number 3.

West Lomond522m
East Lomond448m
Knock Hill364m
Saline Hill359m
Benarty Hill356m
Easter Cairn355m
Park Hill339m
Wether Hill335m
Outh Hill324m

Completing this list is a wee bit more challenging as you will need to venture into the Cleish Hills and walk over rough moorland to reach the summits. However, it’s worth doing in order to be able to say that you’ve visited all the high ground in Fife.

So which challenge will you choose?

Routes to the summit of all these hills (and many more) are provided in the Uplands of Fife section of Fife Walking. For many hills, multiple routes are described so you can choose either the easy route or challenge yourself with a longer or steeper route. And remember, in most cases you don’t have to come back down the same way, mix and match routes to create your own circular walk.

All hill data taken from the Database of British and Irish Hills.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: L

Lucklaw Hill

At just 190m this is the highest hill in the north east of Fife. It is a very conspicuous landmark due to the presence of a large working quarry. The pink felsite quarried from here gives the hill its distinctive red glow when viewed from the south in the sun.

The scrubland summit is easily reached from the village of Balmullo to its south, via field tracks/paths. There are at least two possible routes up the southern slope (one on either side of the quarry) and neither of them are particularly strenuous.

An approach or descent via the northern side is highly recommended where the slopes are clad in attractive mixed woodland. There is a network of paths in the woods leading out on to the open heather and scrub hillside. There are smaller community woodland plantations in the area which can also be incorporated into a walk up the hill.

The summit itself is topped with a communications mast along with an OS trig point and a cairn which is built from bricks rather than stones.

Visit the Lucklaw Hill page on Fife Walking for more information on this hill.

A-Z of Fife’s Hills: K

Knock Hill

Knock Hill is the 3rd highest hill in Fife and with its plethora of communications masts, an obvious landmark in west Fife. It sits close to its smaller neighbour Saline Hill, separated from it by a boggy coll.

There are actually three listed hill summits in the range, as Easter Cairn to the east of the main Saline Hill summit (Mid Cairn) is also recognised as a hill in its own right (source: Database of British and Irish Hills). At 364m, Knock Hill has the distinction of being the 3rd highest hill in Fife! Saline Hill (Mid Cairn) makes it into 4th place at 359m and Easter Cairn lays claim to the 6th place with 355m summit.

The three hills together make a good day out though be warned the coll between Knock Hill and Easter Cairn is very wet and boggy! Knock Hill by itself is easily ascended from the east using the access track for the communications masts on its summit. Saline Hill and Easter Cairn can be approached from the south where new deer gates (openable) have replaced old walls/fences for easier access.

Check out the Saline Hill and Knock Hill page on Fife Walking for details of all three hills.

Fife Hills Challenge

As Spring starts to spring upon us, the weather improves, the days get longer and lock down restrictions are eased, more people are looking for outdoor activities / exercise. We are still restricted to our local authority areas for the immediate future so for those of you in Fife here are a couple of challenges you might want to consider based on Fife’s highest hills and Fife’s most (topographically) prominent hills.

Which challenge(s) will you undertake and can you complete it before travel restrictions are lifted?

Fife’s Highest Hills

The 9 hills in Fife that are over 300m in height

If you prefer inches and feet these are also the same 9 hills that are over 1000 feet in height!

West Lomond 522m, 1713 feet

East Lomond 448m, 1470 feet

Knock Hill 364m, 1194 feet

Saline Hill 359m, 1178 feet

Benarty Hill 356m, 1168 feet

Easter Cairn 355m, 1165 feet

Park Hill 339m, 1112 feet

Wether Hill 335m, 1099 feet

Outh Hill 324m, 1063 feet

The 14 hills in Fife that are over 250m in height

As above plus

Largo Law 290m

Norman’s Law 285m

Lumbennie Hill 284m

Pitlour Hill 275m

Cult Hill 264m

Fife’s Most Prominent Hills

The 7 hills in Fife that have Marilyn status (i.e. 150m prominence / drop)

West Lomond 405m prominence

Benarty Hill 228m prominence

Norman’s Law 209m prominence

Largo Law 197m prominence

Mount Hill 163m prominence

East Lomond 155m prominence

Cairnie Hill 150.4m prominence

The 14 hills in Fife that have Hump status (i.e. 100m prominence / drop)

As above plus

Lumbennie Hill 139m prominence

Lucklaw Hill 117m prominence

Cowden Hill 116m prominence

Knock Hill 112m prominence

Saline Hill 104m prominence

Black Hill 104m prominence

Ormiston Hill 103m prominence

Routes up these hills (and many more) are available on the Fife Walking website.

If you want somewhere to log your hill progress, the hill-bagging site is recommended.