Location: East Lomond, Fife

Grade: Moderate climb and sometimes muddy paths

Distance: 5 miles/8km

Time: 3-4 hours

TO enjoy this walk in full you’ll probably have to tear yourself away from the delights of Falkland Palace. I have to confess that I had never visited this place before I made a video for VisitScotland a couple of years ago. I found the palace and its gardens, not to mention the oldest tennis court in Scotland, absolutely fascinating. Currently closed, it’s certainly well worth a visit once this virus and its dreary restrictions are over.

The Lomonds of Fife, sometimes called the Beacon hills, are the Kingdom’s most prominent landmarks. Both hills can be climbed in one expedition but we didn’t arrive in Falkland until early afternoon last year and the short daylight hours of winter didn’t give us a lot of time to climb both and visit the palace, so we opted for East Lomond (434m) and a wander down a fascinating little glen called Maspie Den.

We parked in the village and made our way up Cross Wynd towards the hill that towered above us, dominating the village. It looked like a very steep climb – and it was. At the top end of Cross Wynd with a rather dilapidated factory on one side and houses on the other we reached the beginning of the ‘official’ path and the start of several long sets of wooden steps.

I guess these steps were built with the best of intentions but it was obvious that most folk walk up the side of them. Whatever the merits or not of wooden steps it wasn’t long before we could gaze back through the beech trees and see the amount of height we had gained in a very short time.

We were surprised how quickly we reached the top of the woods where the angle of the path eased sufficiently to let us get our breath back, but it wasn’t long before it steepened again as it climbed the final dome to the summit and its view indicator.

From here we could begin to get an impression of the whole of the Lomond Hills Regional Park, a precious 25 square mile area of moorland, hills, lochs and farmland.

The area was designated as Scotland’s first Regional Park in 1986 in recognition of its importance for recreation and conservation.

As we dropped down towards the Craigmead car park we appreciated the conservation value of such parks as we watched a hen harrier quarter the moorland in search of prey. The ghostly movement of the bird was impressive, a fine raptor that is sadly being victimised by so-called sportsmen in many other areas of Scotland.

The car park at Craigmead is also the starting point for climbing the slightly higher West Lomond (522m), but we were intent on something a bit different – a walk back to Falkland by the impressive Maspie Den, finishing with a wander through the policies of the House of Falkland.

Leaving the car park we crossed a field and passed through young woodland before dropping down into the Den, and what a surprise that was. The path suddenly steepens to the right and you drop into what could be described as a mini-cavern with the footpath going behind the waters of the Yad waterfall. Not really the kind of sight you’d expect on a walk in rural Fife!

The path continues to drop down beside the burn with little sets of waterfalls to keep your interest alive. You cross several bridges before you enter woodland again.

Ignore various turn-offs to the right and continue through another unexpected feature, a dark winding tunnel that takes you into the grounds of the House of Falkland.

This rather grand Jacobean-style building was the former home of the Marquess of Bute and today is a school for boys with special needs.

The whole estate is still pretty impressive and the long private drive back into Falkland passes a number of interesting looking buildings, including the old stables which today house the offices of the Falkland Heritage Trust. It makes a fine ending to a great short walk.

Cameron McNeish


Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheets 58 (Perth & Alloa) and 59 (St Andrews)

Start/Finish: Car Park in Falkland (GR: NO252073)

Distance: 5 miles/8km

Time: 3-4 hours

Information: St Andrews TIC, 01334 472021. Falkland Palace is normally open daily, March 1 to October 31. Details from nts.org.uk

Route: Leave the car park and follow Cross Wynd. Where the tarmac stops, a signposted footpath begins. Follow this up through the trees, climbing steeply with sets of wooden steps. Leave woods, go through a gate, TR and follow path towards the obvious final steep section to the summit. Drop down SW and follow path all the way to Craigmead Car Park. Ignoring signs for West Lomond, take path at top right-hand corner of Car Park and go through a gate. Cross a field and then some woodland before a small path on the R drops down into the Maspie Den. Follow the main path, ignoring turns to left and right all the way to a short tunnel. Go through the tunnel, keep on the path until you reach a gate and a tarmac road. TR onto the road and follow it back to Falkland.

Please follow current Scottish Government advice regarding travel restrictions in your area