The Kiltwalk Ramble 2021 with Brian and Millar.
And so it was that at 9.45a.m. on Sunday, 25th April, 2021, I was in the car park on East Lomond with my walking companion Millar. My wife, Liz, was good enough to drive me to the start with the confirmation that she would collect me later at the finishing line.
This had all seemed a good idea when the Kiltwalk was mentioned and I thought, lets ramble from East Lomond over to West Lomond then branch into Tayside over the top of Bishop Hill. Then I was going to make use of the Loch Leven Heritage Path to reach Vane Farm (RSPB). The route from there was over the Sleeping Giant Path (so named because from the north the ridge looks like a sleeping giant) to the top of Benarty Hill and end at the bottom of Struths Steps. 15 miles I thought!!!!
I applied to the Kiltwalk, paid my entry fee and joined ‘just giving’. Information was sent by various platforms to a large number of people about my intentions and within days money was being donated on the just giving page. Cannot back down now (as if)!!!!
Training had gone well and on the Tuesday prior to the date of the walk Millar and I covered a very enjoyable 15.5 miles. I will do that again on Thursday I thought then two days rest and the day of the Kiltwalk will arrive.
I forgot that Wednesday, 21st April, 2021 was the day I was to get my second vaccination to fight the Covid virus. Thursday I found that I was rather tired and decided to err on the side of caution and have a day off. No more long walks then.
So. Back in the car park on East Lomond. The kilt is donned. The rucksack is on my back. The new action camera, which only arrived on Thursday, was attached to the rucksack strap even though I did not completely understand the workings. Millar is harnessed and at 9.50a.m., 10 minutes earlier than proposed I hit the upward trail.
A beautiful morning as we set of and the first thing we encountered was a couple of guys running, yes running, down the hill obviously having run up it in the first place. They were hardly breathing. Good morning we exchanged.
It was a lovely walk up the hill with the warm sun on my back. It was quiet apart from the bird noises. I could not hear any sheep but decided that for the moment Millar would be staying on the extendable lead.
Less than 15 minutes in and I crested the rise to the top of East Lomond to be met by two ladies who exclaimed ‘well that’s different from shorts’. I explained the purpose of the kilt and they immediately said that would donate some money. I gave my name and how to access the page.
At this point the camera had been working and I did a 360 degree turn pointing out the views an sights to behold. I do have a video but cannot get it to work in this document. I will keep trying and it may appear at a later date.
After a few minutes I set off on my way this time down the slope. Soon found out that the dry weather causes these loose gravel paths to be quite slippery. However, managed to reach the main path and on route to Craigmead car park.
Nothing of note happened till I passed through Craigmead and started to wend my way along the track towards West Lomond (522mtrs). As I walked along the path I realised that my kilt was not as tight round my middle as it was pre lockdown.
Now, it might sound strange but during lockdown I lost weight (almost a stone) and so what had previously held the kilt up was missing. What am I going to do because I am not even 3 miles into the walk. Decided to carry on and do some running repairs at the top of West Lomond.
I reached the bottom of West Lomond to hear a ‘ding’ from my new action camera and on checking found that the battery had run out. Probably just as well because the camera has a microphone on it which would have caught my reaction to the flat battery. Crikey jings says I !!!! I only got it on Thursday so expected problems.
I had reached the top of West Lomond 90 minutes after leaving the East Lomond car park and I was so chuffed. I decided to reorganise the kilt at this point but Princes Street was obviously closed that day. There were people everywhere. However, needs must. A bit of ingenuity lead to the kilt being made safe around my new slimline body. Due to the kilt problems etc. I totally forgot to take a picture on the top but I can assure you I was at the top of the highest point in Fife.
Again the descent from our second hill was tricky in places but made it to the bottom and a proper path leading west towards Glen Vale and the area of John Knox Pulpit.
I knew at this point that I did not require to walk as far as the pulpit but turned south for about half a mile then west leading up through the heather and bracken to the ridge leading to Bishop Hill.
It is amazing things that come into your head as you wander along the hills and dales with no noise, lovely weather and an empty mind.
(with apologies to country legend Kenny Rogers and The Gambler)
On a warm sunny morning
On a Sunday late in April
I set out on a ramble
Cross the Higher points of Fife
With the help of the Scottish Kiltwalk
I was trying to raise some money
For a great local charity
Very close to my heart.
So I headed up East Lomond
With my walking buddy Millar
The whole route was in front of us
As we made the climb
Ninety minutes later
We were on the West Lomond
Bishop and Benarty in view
And a long walk in between
I want to thank all the donators
For giving up their money
I really do appreciate
The support that I have had
Forth n Tay Disabled Ramblers
Thank you helping the cause
In finishing all I offer is
a big round of applause.
(Please give me some artistic licence with some of the lines but I have tried. It almost fits!!! If anyone can get these words to fit the music you are welcome to present it at FTDR Xmas Lunch 2021)
At this point I realised that I had underestimated the distance from West Lomond to Bishop Hill. I continued on the path and reached the top of Bishop Hill to find a couple of young ladies sitting on the cairn. I say young ‘ladies’ but the language I heard would have made many a miner blush so I moved on my way. Young and impressionable that is me!!! However, I did have time to take a photae of Loch Leven from Bishop Hill.
Had a last look back at the route we had taken over the Paps of Fife and looked forward to the next part of the walk. What a glorious day.
I had decided before the start that I would enjoy a couple of food breaks and on the route down into Scotlandwell was to be one. Millar had found a couple of doggy friends to play with on the way down and was ready for a drink. We found a shady spot with views over to Loch Leven and the route we were taking. Watered and fed Millar. Priorities you know!!! Then I had a bite to eat and a long cool drink.
I always measure the walk distance on an app on my phone so I decided to have a look!!!! Imagine my astonishment when it read 9+ miles. I knew it was 9 miles from Scotlandwell to the finish. Therefore I had underestimated by 3 miles. I was only halfway!!!! Quick change of socks and off we go.
Leaving Scotlandwell and heading towards Kinnesswood I reached Bishopshire Golf Club. The road opposite, Grahamstone Road, I knew lead down onto the Loch Leven Heritage Trail. By now the sun was at its strongest and it was really warm. A short time later just short of the heritage trail I passed the point where FTDR enjoyed a rather soggy picnic lunch on a ramble one day long ago (probably only a couple years BUT).
Headed along the path and watched gliders coming and going from Portmoak gliding centre. Quite busy. A short time after passing the gliders I was met by my friend Geoff with whom I have enjoyed many walks and climbs in Scotland. He was going to accompany me to the top of Benarty. At this point the company was welcome. Millar is good company but doesn’t say much!!!
The path was busy with walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists. Eventually made it to Vane Farm where I had decided to have my second food break. Millar seen to first again. Boots and socks off. Paused the walking app and we were 15+ miles into the ramble. This a screenshot of the route recording and you will see the number of calories I have burned. No surprise that the kilt does not fit properly!!
Enjoyed the picnic. Replaced boot on dry socks. Gathered up the rubbish. Off we go.
I said earlier I was using the Sleeping Giant path to get to the top of Benarty Hill. Oh no I was not. A short distance on our way and there was a diversion because of a landslip. The diversion was off to my left. A quick look provided me with a view of the path which was in fact a staircase. I have no idea how many steps. BUT. Having walked up and down 15+ miles, a long walk up steps is not what one wants. BUT. All these people who had donated did, so on the premise that I was walking 15 miles and over 4 hills. Well I thought I have walked 15 miles!!! BUT. Only 3 hills had been topped!!!! Step we gaily on we go. After the steps the diversion was actually quite enjoyable and we rejoined the sleeping giant path some way up.
Getting close now and no mishaps as yet!!! Wait for it!!! I am not counting the loose kilt as a mishap. That could have been so much worse!!!
A short time later we reach the trig point on top of Benarty Hill. The sun was still splitting the sky although there was now a cooling easterly breeze. A few people had made their way to the top and were sitting about enjoying the views.
Geoff obliged with the camera and I have selected the least dishevelled shot for the gallery. I looked a mess. I had arranged Liz to collect Millar and I at the bottom of Struths Steps (more Steps but downward mmmmhhhh) at 1720. 30 minutes left.
It was at this point that I found out I had not restarted my mileage app from the stop at Vane Farm (thank goodness that microphone was not working). Well, my boy that was rather stupid (or words to that effect).
Set off down the hill. Now you might recall as I set off at the start of the ramble there were two guys running down the hill. On Benarty Hill a guy passed us running. Not unusual. BUT. On his back was a laden rucksack and sitting on that, astride his neck was a young boy. OMG.
Geoff was still with me at this point and we just looked at each other with a slight shake of the heads. Each to their own. Soon, Geoff went off to continue his walk and make it back to his car.
Millar and I set off towards Struths steps with a spring in our steps because we were almost there. Almost without mishap. About 20 steps from the bottom I moved off a high step, landed on a round stone and down I went. Really pleased at this point the microphone was not working. ***@@@??? said I as I examined my skint knee, skint elbow and bruised nail which was also bleeding. You might see the injuries on the end photograph.
A good warm bath will sort that out. Home quickly, quick check of the balance on the just giving page. Big smile. Long soak in bath. I really enjoyed the walk. Thank you to everyone who supported my endeavours. You are all very kind. The FTDR bank balance will helped for another year. Let us go rambling!!!!
Quick check of balance on justgiving page before publishing, shows the donations have reached £1500. This includes £30 from the ladies on East Lomond. WOW!!!! £2250 coming into the coffers. THANKS EVERYONE.