Friday, November 08, 2013

West Lomond...and Largo Law, the feisty little volcanic plug with "attitude".

Looking back at East Lomond, en route to the summit cairn of West Lomond.
Some hill walkers manage to reach multiple summit cairns and trig points in a single outing. I'd love to report that we "bagged" a modest couple, in a single day, but these took us two. It is, after all, very easy to get distracted here...

with medieval castles by the sea...

Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven.
...and late afternoon seascapes...

The Deil's Head, Arbroath.
There are so many distractions here to serious hill walking, it's really quite annoying! ;)

Back to the two most recent hill climbs - West Lomond and Largo Law.

Down in the Kingdom of Fife, we discovered that there are a number of ancient volcanoes, including East Lomond and West Lomond. Having hiked up their higher and distant "cousin", Ben Lomond, last June, and EL, a couple of weeks ago, it seemed only right to finish the project and get up WL - producing a Canadian-style, "Lomond hat-trick". Then, the following day, we would, have a quick jaunt up Largo Law, another volcanic hill further to the east.

At 522 m or 1,713 ft, West Lomond is the highest point in Fife. Sometime, between 800 BC and the 5th century, an Iron Age fort was established there as was the case on so many prominent hills. It's easy to see how the imagination and the "mind's eye" can get really well-exercised here!

Approaching West Lomond.
On the approach trail, an old boundary marker caught our eye with the inscription WR 1818. Back in the day, Sir William Rae, a King's Commissioner, had the job of surveying the land. By an act of Parliament in 1815, commoners could no longer use the land for their own purposes. Parcels were divided up among privileged local land owners. Thankfully, with Scottish access rights, hill walkers (today's "commoners"?) are now free to wander, and enjoy all the land.

195 year-old boundary marker.
From the top of West Lomond, East Lomond and Largo Law can be seen, the North Sea beyond.

East Lomond (foreground) and Largo Law, from West Lomond.
Same view, zoomed in, Largo Law in the distance.
Looking west, we were sure that the high, snow-capped mountain was Ben Lomond, the most southerly "Munro" - looking significantly more "wintry" than last June when we enjoyed the views from its summit. (Many thanks Ian, for confirmation of that.)

Looking west from West Lomond...
snow-covered Ben Lomond (centre right).
As has been the case with every summit cairn and trig point recently, the wind was blowing a veritable gale!

Trig point on West Lomond.
Returning to the Craigmead car park, the sun was beginning to fall behind the hills, and the winds had subsided. There was time to visit, once again, the delightful town of Falkland for a coffee and scone (with butter and jam). We found Campbell's Coffee House and Eatery, in operation just seven weeks. It's clearly going to do very well. The menu looks fabulous and included a "grilled" cheese from Cyprus called haloumi. It's made from a combination of cow, goat, and sheep's milk and we were told it is very delicious. Next time for sure!

Campbell's in Falkland.
Largo Law was next, at a mere 290 m, or just under 1,000 ft, it would be a quick and easy "bag". Not! This little volcanic cone, although it doesn't have a lot of "altitude" is feisty - steep, muddy, slippery, and steep...and muddy. (Repetition for emphasis only.)

It also featured a couple of broken "kissing gates" to clamber over, a rumoured bull in the field, and a metal fence that had to be untied - without letting the sheep out. We were most appreciative that the kind farmer, who happened to be there, assisted with the latter. I hope he doesn't have to do that very often as it must get frustrating. A simple stile would probably make it easier for both parties.

The feisty little volcanic plug - the route was much steeper than it looks!
Once again, the views were superb...

Cairn on Largo Law and yours truly, and evidence of another Iron Age fort. 
...and the wind was simply ferocious. I SO need a handheld anemometer! (Is there a birthday coming up, Joan?)

Simply holding the camera steady was a chore!

Trig on LL, Joan hanging on in the wind - again!
Feisty little Largo Law, a volcanic plug with "attitude", was well worth the slipping and sliding, and slightly "unhappy" knees by the end of the descent. No worries though, there would still be 36 hours to recover before the "Reindeer Run" 10k on Saturday. Oh well. :)

Fields of the Kingdom of Fife and the North Sea.
Sometimes in life, we "under-estimate" - whether it be hills or, more importantly, ourselves or others. We base our expectations on variables we may not fully understand. Largo Law seemed like a gentle little "bump" on the landscape, hardly worth the drive down. It surprised us.

As is often the case, our under-estimation might have left this treasure of an experience undiscovered. This feisty little hill offered a challenging couple of hours of physical exercise, a dramatic panorama at the top, and a rewarding outdoor, self-propelled adventure. It's true. There's more to life than is sometimes apparent.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the "Little House" series of children's novels, offered this gem of wisdom:

 "Persons appear to us according to the light 
we throw upon them from our own minds."

It's the same for hills.

As always, a good reminder from the world outdoors.


  1. What a super viewpoint Duncan! Yep, the prominent summit in the centre is Ben Lomond, the big snowy stuff to the north is the Ben More group near Crianlarich.

    What great days out you're getting! :o)

    Best wishes to you both


  2. Hi Ian, yes, it's simply been great for getting out on the hills. It'll be nice if the weather holds and hopefully the week in the Lake District will be as good. Thanks so much for confirming Ben Lomond - it looked pretty impressive! Warm wishes to your both from Joan and I. Duncan.

  3. Hi Duncan and Joan

    What a great achievement to do the 10k run in such "fetching attire" and for such a great cause. The weather and photos were great.
    Goes to show that the sexagenarians of this family are still truly athletes.
    Well done to you both.