Thursday, 17 November 2011

Fife Lomonds and the Bonnet Stane

After a washout summer, autumn is serving up beautiful mild weekend days. At the risk of turning November into Little Hill Month, we went for a short jaunt out to the Lomonds of Fife.

The first time I came here, years ago, I was only interested in bagging, taking the most efficient (but dullest) route up the two Lomonds from the col car park, the most intriguing sight being the village of Falkland huddled hard to the northeast under the steep wee peak of East Lomond.

In Falkland:

This time we decided on a more considered route, up West Lomond via the Bonnet Stane and down via the Devil's Burdens, Glen Vale and John Knox's Cave, as recommended in Patrick Barker's Ochils, Campsies and Lomonds guide. I'd never seen the Bonnet Stane before, a curiously-weathered outcrop of sandstone, with a neatly chiselled cave cut out of the opposite face. What was this man-made cave for?

The Bonnet Stane:

The Stane is set amongst a checkerwork of rolling fields and little stands of trees, with the steep escarpment of West Lomond behind. As we ascended onto the escarpment the indistinct line of the Highlands became evident, Shiehallion recognisable above a gap, the line of the Ochils nearer, continuing east in lumpy ground all the way to Norman Law.

Rolling Fife countryside from West Lomond ascent:

The Lomonds are the fulcrum between the two sides of Fife, agricultural to the north and east with pretty fishing villages and the town of St Andrews, and post-industrial to the south and west with Mossmorran, Rosyth and various former mining villages. The Lomonds are - just - in the former but belong to both these Fifes, with sweeping views over the whole county.

Before the summit a chill had come on, the land gone grey and the warmth gone out the sun, wrapped in wintery cloud to the west. It was closer to sunset than I had anticipated and we decided to forego Glen Vale and descend the way we had come up. I love being on the hills at this time of day at this time of year, a feeling of making the most of a day, the lights of houses and cars twinkling below as we descended into the sunset, a fat orange moon rising as we reached the car.

Loch Leven from West Lomond:

As a curious aside, did you know that Loch Lomond used to be called Loch Leven? It is drained by the River Leven and overlooked by Ben Lomond.

All these little hills have made me want to do a big one even more. I'm going to do it. But where shall I go? Deeside? Speyside? Fort William? Glen Affric? Torridon? The Lakes? I may need to hire a car...

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