Friday, October 18, 2013

An ancient volcano, a shifting sea bed, and a tunnel...with no apparent light at the end.

East Lomond, from the B936 highway.
This is such a wondrous country to explore. Journeying south from Arbroath and across the River Tay into the Kingdom of Fife, brings the hill walker to the Lomond Hills. They are the highest in the county, once a Pictish kingdom. We had chosen the East Lomond circuit, West Lomond being the twin further to the west. These Sub 2000' hills are the eroded remains of two ancient volcanoes - and really do look the part.

The steep climb up from the lovely and historic town of Falkland, with a population of just over 1000, is worth every ounce of effort.

Slick mud - nice to have poles along.
Leaving the beech forest behind, the path up East Lomond is very clear...

...and offers just one stile to climb over - located simply to test flexibility and balance on the slippery planks. :)

It's a great hike up...

...and eventually, the summit view indicator appears.

The view indicator, at the windswept summit.
Not unlike the biblical Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, the feeling of exhilaration compels you to stay, and breathe it all in. From the top of East Lomond, the hiker can enjoy a marvellous agricultural panorama, views of the North Sea, the Firth of Forth, and out towards the Highlands. 

The historic town of Falkland, its royal palace of the Scottish kings and its parish church, are set in a perfectly pastoral setting.

The town of Falkland.

Descending down the other side of East Lomond, reveals West Lomond, its volcanic summit hidden in the still mist. The layers of limestone beneath the hill walkers feet, created from the shells of ancient creatures, were once part of a sea bed, beneath a warm, tropical sea - located over the equator! Extraordinarily, over the past 345 million years, this part of the earth's crust has shifted north, to modern day Scotland. The fossil of an extinct shark's tooth, a shark that once swam in tropical waters, was found here. Unimaginable!

West Lomond, with summit under the cover of mist.
On the return track, we came upon what appeared to be a stone-built tunnel built into a hill - with no other apparent way around or over the hill. While I took a photograph of the entrance, Joan entered the tunnel, disappeared into the darkness...and quickly returned, a look of slight consternation across her face. "There's no light at the end of the tunnel". "Well, that's impossible", I replied. Entering the passageway, I determined that she was quite correct. The tunnel clearly twisted and turned and did not look the least bit hospitable. Chiding myself for not having a flashlight, I felt the best strategy was to use the flash of my camera to intermittently illuminate the passage. But who knew how far it would go! Would the camera battery even last?

While I strategized, Joan reached into her pack, and handed me one of the two head lamps she had packed. Sheesh. The full traverse of this underground portion of the hike took about...well, 15 seconds.

The tunnel - well illuminated by the camera flash. It was very dark!
At the completion of the East Lomond circuit, the Falkland Palace, transformed from a 13th century castle, greets the walker. A tour through would be nice...

Falkland Castle...a favourite of Mary, Queen of Scots.
...but first, a coffee and a sweet treat in a tiny tea house.

Hiking in the Lomond Hills, highly recommended - there's a little bit of everything.

The fact is, every part of this magnificent planet is wondrous, each in its own way. Whether it's climbing the hills, gazing at the stars, smelling the deep woods after a rain, or listening to the waves break on a shore, we're only here on the planet once - all the more reason to get a feel for the place. :)

We always appreciate you coming by.



  1. Looks beautiful...funny how it doesn't look steep, I guess because it is so open and smooth but looking down on the valley one can tell how high you had climbed.
    Love the tunnel:)

  2. Wonderful blog! Pictures and verse are beautiful! Jen from high river

  3. This is great Duncan - you're absolutely right, there was a bit of everything in that walk and it looks to be a real cracker :o)

    Kind regards

  4. Hi L, you're correct, looks can certainly be deceiving here, especially from a distance. It was "smoothly steep". :) It got the heart beating. As always, thanks for your words. D.

    Many thanks, Jen, so nice to hear from you. We just "point and shoot", the landscape does all the work. :) Warm wishes to you and Doug and family. Duncan.

    Thanks for that Ian, I forgot to mention the potato leek soup that came "after" the coffee and cookies. We did it a bit backwards but it sure tasted good. :) A gale blowing today! Duncan.

  5. Hi Duncan and Joan
    "Slick mud", how can this be possible in Scotland where "the Sun always shines".
    You are giving us Scots a greater picture of our wonderful landscape which most of us have not seen.
    Keep the blog going, we are all following your footsteps.

    MG Mike

  6. Right you are, Mike! We were just as surprised to find that it actually does rain in "blue sky Scotland". Haha!! The last day or so of "unusual" weather does not, however, deter us. :) And the sun is shining now! See you soon. Duncan.