Sunday, 25 October 2009
Cairnie Hill and Dunbog Hill.The Lost Ochils.
Time creeps on.On the first official hills of winter the only sunshine this Sunday was central and eastern Fife or Northumbria and Newcastle."Waay aye pet". Fife it was then.Map O.S.59.
Alex was all for going straight up and down these two hills then going somewhere else but I fancied making more of a day of it,exploring some new areas I hadn't been to on the glorious map of Fife.
We stopped in Collessie village in the only available parking space we could find which was right under a railway bridge.Anywhere else would have been anti-social in someone`s private area.
A lot of the small villages in this part of Fife are very pretty and this was no exception.Picture postcard and elevated with some of the residents in church at the top of the brae.
We had a wander round then took the signposted right of way to Collessie Den and after that took a track just before a free range chicken farm which led us right up over the grassy hillsides to wilder lands above.
Although we didn't know it yet todays walk would take us into a remote and unfrequented region with a surprisingly "big" feel to it for such modest hills.Even within Fife these two hills get few visitors.Although I was not aware of it until now (there are brighter bulbs in the box) this is the eastern end of the Ochils hill chain.
It looked fairly straightforward on the map but the tracks we were on now did not appear on the O.S. map and distance and direction were complex as we couldn't see the summit heights of our first hill from anywhere.There were paths through this region the secret was finding them.
Cairnie hill summit was ticked off by accident as we ascended a rise between trees just to see where the hell we were.Alex then recognised the natural stone summit block from the description in his well thumbed guide at home.
The route across to the trig on Dunbog hill became obvious now as did the realisation that this area was plastered with cows.
The route across was over rolling hillsides studded with gorse and brambles skirting the edge of the escarpment to avoid a remote habitation, the only one in view.We never spied a soul until we reached civilization and minor village roads 3 hours later.
As we drew closer we were still under the impression that the summit was ours for the taking.Even with bullocks if you walk towards them in a confident manner they usually back off after a bit of bravado and hoofing of turf.
Never had so many cows guarded one little trig however.It was a wall of cattle with half grown calf's.
Alex was up to the task though. He dodged ,he weaved, he fainted left and right.He crawled pleadingly on his belly, wee paws in the air in a submissive manner.The cows refused to budge.These were mums on a mission and they had the mean look of happy trample, make my day, in their watchful eyes. They blocked our every move, a solid wall of bovine menace.We gave up.
In our day we`d climbed every icy Munro summit put before us.Scrambled along knife edged pinnacles chased by gibbering monkeys.Casually jumped with a hearty laugh across Europe's crumbling glaciers and crevasses yet here we were humbled by a herd of tail swishing grass munchers.Gutted was not the word.
Still, Alex got a photo of his prize and seemed content with that.
The way back was over fields of corn stubble still on tiny paths not on the map,skirting woodland and any growing crops by keeping to the margins. Apart from the Lomond hills which are busy only by comparison this area must be the wildest in Fife.You could easily have big cats here and they would go unnoticed if they left the sheep alone sticking to more natural prey.
Don`t know what Alex was up to here unless it was an attempt to steady the camera for a zoomed shot of this fine monument he`s still to do.He keeps talking about it.His missed trig :)
It was a nice walk back to the car via woodland paths to Letham then Monimail following quiet minor roads back.
We met a local couple here. The only folk seen since leaving Collessie.
There was still time for a short endeavour.I wanted to explore the wilder parts of Glenrothes as I `d heard there were some parts at night even the police don't fancy going into.Good fun! Alex,he`s so predictable, wanted another trig.It was his car.
Sunset found us wandering up a lane then through fields of stubble with two timid roe deer grazing to find a wee concrete lump surrounded by a ring of houses and farms called Hilton of Forthar.I`ll say one thing for Alexs choice of trigs. You fairly get to see some of the strangest corners of the country and Hilton of Forthar is right up there.
Good views of the setting sun over East Lomond.
An interesting and rewarding day. Breezy but fairly mild and for the most part sunny. A nice choice at the very end of the Ochils range.
Bob walking into Letham....
This walk might look a wee bit agricultural on the map but it was quite tough going and had a surprisingly remote feel to it.Pity about the bolshie cows though..!
Colessie and Letham now feature on my places to retire to list :)