July 4, 2016

East Lomond Circuit, Falkland, Scotland

With our vacation rapidly winding down, this was to be our last hike in Scotland.  I was a little worried when Erwin developed cold symptoms yesterday, and more so when he was slow to rise this morning.  However, he finally emerged and managed to pull himself together.  He stuffed his backpack full of tissues and we set out for Falkland, a 35-minute drive from our rental in St. Andrews.  We arrived in time for lunch at the Covenanter, a charming little inn across from the Bruce Fountain and Falkland Parish Church, right in the center of town.  It began raining as we finished our meal, so after settling up, we paused in the empty bar to pull on our rain gear.

The hike described on Walkhighlands starts at Bruce Fountain, so we turned onto Cross Wynd and headed uphill, passing the bag factory, and then leaving the village behind.  The trail enters a forest and climbs steeply, passing through hardwoods and then a conifer plantation, ascending many many stairs before emerging from the woods onto the grassy slopes of East Lomond.  Somewhere in this stretch the rain eased up, and we kept having to pause to remove layers, because even though temperatures were mild, the grade was fairly steep.  The entire loop is only 4.5 miles with approximately 1,245 feet elevation gain, but all the climbing is in the first mile.

The trail through the grass is initially wide and gravel surfaced, and views start to open up over Falkland village and the surrounding farmland.  The path becomes narrower higher up, and eventually becomes essentially a series of earthen step-like features, which look muddy from a distance but were not today, despite all the rain.  We just climbed up them like stairs until we popped over the crest of the hill.  There was a gentleman up top with his dogs, and he charmingly asked us whether we thought the fair weather would hold, before heading down and leaving us with the summit to ourselves.  Frankie enjoyed the view indicator and a brief snack before the rains rolled back in, forcing us to layer up again and start descending to get out of the wind.

the trail ahead, ascending East Lomond
Falkland village

checking out the view indicator
view toward West Lomond

The trail descends the western slopes steeply via a narrow track through the grass, passing the trig point.  After the grade eases, the trail joins with an old road with magnificent view of West Lomond ahead and East Lomond behind.  The track eventually descends to the car park at Craigmead. 

the trig point is on the western slopes

from whence we came: looking back at East Lomond

another look back at East Lomond

picnic area at Craigmead car park
From Craigmead, a footpath leads north across a grassy field.  The trail follows the edge of another forest, passing through an old clearcut before descending into the forested Maspie Den.  This area is super charming, with numerous bridges over a babbling creek, and even a few pedestrian tunnels.  How cool is that?!  Most were brief underpasses beneath larger bridges.  The coolest one just bored through a patch of hillside under some trees, and was longer -- just enough so that at the bend it was pitch black.  Really fun stuff!   The last part of the circuit involves a short road walk back into the village.  I don't normally care for hiking on roads, but there was no traffic, and this loop was awesome, so it was totally worth it.  Highly recommended!

common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

Maspie Den

the big tunnel
emerging into the light

the road walk on West Port is initially forested
back in the village
we finally wore him out -- this was his first crash after a hike since Blue Mountain!
route map from Walkhighlands
map from Lomond Hills Regional Park

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