Rising to the north of Balmullo, Lucklaw Hill dominates the landscape of north-east Fife. It’s very much a hill of two halves. The northern flank is gently sloping, heavily wooded and wonderfully tranquil. The southern slope, on the other hand, has been quarried out, leaving a vast pink scar beneath the summit. This, however, does not intrude upon this walk which begins in community woodland at Cuplahills Farm, on the southern outskirts of the village. The ascent is gently graded and follows good, well signed tracks and paths. From the top there are superb views west over the Eden Estuary towards the historic town of St Andrews.
A woodland walk sign guides you through a gate into Willie’s Wood. The wide grassy track bears left at the first junction a short way on, then left again, rising to a picnic table where there are fine views east over the Eden Estuary. Continue to the highest point then descend through mixed woodland to reach the end of a stone wall. Go through a gap in the hedge, turn left and the path rises between hedges to a gate, just west of Lucklaw Farm.
Turn left to reach a T-junction a few metres on. Turn right here and follow the track to join the public road at the next junction. Go straight on here and follow the road past Ardlogie House. Continue until you reach a track on the right signed for Lucklaw Hill and Brighouse and take this.
Running through open country, the track passes cottages at Brighouse and continues straight on. Stay with it until it turns sharp left at a metal gate. Go right here, a footpath sign indicating the way. The grassy path skirts along the edge of a band of trees, an open field to the left.
There’s a gate at the top of the path. Go through this, turn right and walk along the edge of the field to the top corner. Go left and follow the edge of the field north until you reach a wooden gate on the right. Go through and a path leads through mixed woodland, gorse, broom and ferns. It can be muddy underfoot here. The pleasant path rises to a barrier gate at the edge of the woodland, just before a house is reached.
As you approach the barrier, turn right on to a path that climbs to the right of a fence bordering an open field. After an initially quite strenuous pull, the way rises gently through beech, oak, silver birch and pine on to Lucklaw Hill. At the top edge of the forest, pass through a kissing gate and bear left over open moor to reach the summit, clearly visible due to the presence of a mobile telephone mast on the top. There is also a trig-point and a cairn constructed of brick and concrete, taken from the ruin of what was presumably a wartime look-out post built here (the foundations remain). There are panoramic views.
Begin the descent by bearing left of the mast compound, following a wide grassy track round the slope. It passes above the top of the vast Lucklaw Hill quarry before curving right and then left, dropping to a wooden gate at the top of an open field. Go through and follow the track down the right-hand side of the field (often used for cattle grazing), staying close to the fence. Lower down, cross the field and head towards a wooden pedestrian gate in the stone wall bounding the lower edge of the field.
Go though the gate, turn right and cross a wooden stile. On the other side the grassy path forks. Take the route on the right and it climbs gently, following a stone wall to the left. The way curves left before descending to the road junction next to Ardlogie House, encountered earlier in the day. Retrace your steps from here to the start.
Distance: 4 miles/6.5km
Time: 2-3 hours
Start/finish: Cuplahills Farm, Balmullo (GR: NO 416204). There is a public car park at farm but be warned, the access track is rough
Maps: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 371 or Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 59
Route: As described above