Meeting our friend Neil in Fife at 08.00, for a walk in the Lomond Hills, meant an early start. Indeed, it meant the alarm clock went off at half past four in the morning! When I got downstairs and opened the back door to let the cat out, I was disappointed to find that it was raining hard and unlike us, the cat decided it wasn’t a day for venturing out! The forecast had, I thought, indicated a dry start with the rain developing as the day progressed ….it looked like the forecast might be back to front.
The rain fell all the way over to Fife and when we started the walk at a point below West Lomond, the hill was well shrouded in mist. But, the Lomond Hills aren’t just about big views from the top. Neil had already told us that these small hills had some really interesting features and he had planned a route to take us past some of them.
The first, which I think is called the Bonnet Stone, is a crazy natural sandstone sculpture that sits low down amidst grassy fields full of sheep and their lambs. From a distance I found it difficult to judge just how big or small the outcrop was, but my jaw started to drop as we got closer and I realised that this was a very big sandstone outcrop indeed. The actual Bonnet Stone looked a bit like a very large mushroom and apparently it is possible to clamber up onto it, but I gave that a miss and made do with standing on another lump of the huge outcrop. Neil had told us we’d visit three caves on the walk and tucked underneath us was one of them. It was a perfect place to get out of the rain for a late breakfast!
The haul up to the summit of West Lomond was pretty steep and we were soon into the cloud and, as we got higher, the wind. The summit wasn’t really a place to stop for long and a quick couple of snaps later saw us heading off down hill, with the wind and driving rain at our backs. It was an equally steep descent but on easy grass and as we emerged from below the cloud we could make out some breaks in the weather off in the distance.
Neil’s plan was to head over to the summit of Bishop’s Hill and then back down to the col before returning to the car via a fabulous glen carved out through the sandstone by a small stream. The breaks we had seen in the distance did tell of better conditions and as the rain stopped the cloud level lifted and we got our first views of West Lomond…. a large lump of a hill that might make for an interesting drawing or painting. In other directions we could see Loch Leven, East Lomond and further away, the Bass Rock. We had a longer stop at the summit of Bishop’s Hill before doing a small detour to see a very impressive pinnacle that stands as part of the craggy side of the hill.
The walk back through the sandstone carved glen was equally impressive and a detour took us up to an elegant waterfall and a couple more caves. This time we didn’t need their shelter though and a late lunch by the side of the small stream saw us sitting in the sunshine for a few minutes.
This really was a fine walk and this is an area I’d like to return to in slightly better weather. Our walk ended with a visit to Neil’s parents who live close by and who made us very welcome and treated us to a fine meal before we headed back to the wet west! Many thanks to them for the fabulous Fife hospitality and to Neil for taking us on such a fine walk through his local hills. It’s always great going somewhere you’ve never visited before.