The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

 Another glorious day, of cloudless skies and pleasant warm wind. I was in Cupar sitting on a bench in the park, taking a bit of a breather before the homeward journey. It just seemed wrong to be going back this early in the day, especially with the opportunity to tick one more adventure from off my bucket list. I call it a bucket list, but it is more like the Horn of Plenty each time something is removed it replenishes itself.

If you travel around North East Fife you can not fail to notice a tall chimney structure sticking up on top of a small hill just west and north of Cupar. I once asked a local what it was and he told me it was built to commemorate the victory at Waterloo until today I believed him.

I rode up the main road through Cupar, the A91, as far as Cupar Motorcycles, the road was busy with school kids and jam-packed with cars and buses. I turned off onto the A913 still busy but at least I did not have to watch out for people crossing the road between stationary traffic, that I was weaving my way through. Now a long steady climb up to Kilmaron Den farm. The road flattens out here at the 100m contour and soon I turn off left onto a small unclassified road, that would take me to my destination the base of Mount Hill.

There is a signpost that point you in the direction of the footpath, that will takes you up to the top of the hill and the monument itself. The path is more rough farm track and loose gravel so I left the bike behind a hedge and decided I would walk the rest of the way to the top. I suppose you could ride up, or even push your bike to the top for the white knuckle ride back down if you were that way inclined.

The first part of the climb takes you onto a relatively flat plateau and from here you get a magnificent view back down into the valley and the town of Cupar, now almost obscured by hardwood woodland, once-upon-a-time this whole valley would have been all heavily wooded and a place of hunting for the nobility. Even today you have the remains of the great Balgarvie Estate. I spotted a stance of Scots Pine and had to take a picture, of one of the noble trees,

along with a Rowan covered in bright red berries.

The next part of the journey is much steeper and covered in mature trees obscuring the top and the monument itself. Finally, at 221m, I reached the top, where there was an entrance through the deer fence, which must be all of 3-4 meters in height.

Hopetoun Monument is a simple B listed stricture, with an inscription above the door to tell us that it was erected in memory of the Earl of Hopetoun. There is a Hopetoun House on the other side of the River Forth, in the Lothians, and I believe this will be connected to that, for the Earl may well have had estates on this side of the water too. I am told there is a spiral stair within the tower taking you up to a viewing platform, but alas like Scotstarvit Tower, the door was firmly closed against me. I would have loved to go up there, on a day such as this, for I sure you would have been able to see for miles and miles. I touched the Trig Point then headed back down to the road, found my stead awaiting my coming, this time, it would be homeward bound.        

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