Winter in Scotland has been pretty half-hearted this year. We’ve had a few flurries, far more on the highest hills, but for those of us in Leith… well, it’s been non-existent. So when snow is forecast, us city dwellers do the obvious — chase it.
Last weekend, we took the car over the Forth Road Bridge and onto the Fife plains, direction Falkland. It’s a very quintessential east coast village — by that I mean the house fronts rest right on the pavement — and is also famous for its Renaissance-inspired palace, which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
We parked in the village square with the fountain as background music and East Lomond Hill as the backdrop, grabbing a takeaway soup for walking fuel (£8 for two soups though, extortionate tourist prices). Following the Walk Highlands route you can read here, we headed south out the village and into woodland.
Here the ‘hard work’ began. There were steps upon steps chopped into the soil, held back by wooden slats, and these continued until the trees gave way to moorland. By this point, we were fairly high above Falkland, and could clearly see our route to the top of East Lomond. Plus, at this height, what we’d came for was lying. Snow.
Even the views at this stage of the climb were beautiful. Fife lay before us, its low ground bare and brown; the higher hills dusted with white. Further away were the Ochils, bright in the sunlight and — as we thumped our way through the snow to the summit — we could spot rigs being transported on the Firth of Forth.
How can there be anything more spectacular than nature? Than views like this? For less than an hour’s effort getting up the hill, we were rewarded with perspective, fresh air, awe and wanderlust to see more of Scotland. We stood as the wind ripped around us and just took it all in. It was peaceful and refreshing… like our bodies were recharged. Does that make any sense, outdoorsy folk?
We took the tiny ribbon to the base of the hill, our shoes squealing on the packed snow. The path then ran towards West Lomond, a stunning Toblerone-shaped mound which I stole numerous shots of before I stuck my new Scarpas in some dog shit. Well, there’s one downside about coming back down to earth: the inconsiderate dog walkers.
Forget that, though. We found snow, we stood on the top of Fife (pretty much) and we got some much needed perspective… which loosened our sometimes suffocating city lives for a little bit. And isn’t that what is so wonderful about nature? The air, the landscape, the weather… it helps you forget. It puts things in their rightful place. Which — in this world of instant news and everyday updates — is just the kind of weekend fix we needed.