Monday 2 January 2017 dawned clear and bright – a superb day for any activity in the outdoors. Driving towards the Forth Bridge my eye was caught by lovely pink clouds above the Pentland Hills presaging the sunrise – I didn’t feel I could justify stopping on the hard shoulder to take a photo!
I met up with Shay and Caroline at the car park at Findatie and we set off towards Kinross, walking into a chilly wind. Shay was only joining us for part of the route so she would be walking back to the car park with the wind behind her. On a previous visit the Club walked from Kinross to Vane Farm but now there is a designated trail all the way round the loch which Caroline and I would follow.
Initially there were not many people about – a few joggers and some serious cyclists. Later the route became much busier with family parties with shiny new bikes, buggies and puppies, the busiest spots coinciding with paths from the half dozen car parks that provide access to the circular trail.
There were plenty of opportunities to watch birdlife – a charm of goldfinches flitted alongside the path, stopping to enjoy thistle seeds in the field, a large flock of fieldfares and some starlings picked over the grass in another field and a group of whooper swans flew overhead towards the loch. At one of the bird hides we watched a variety of ducks, some geese and a cormorant – all of them noisy. Later we saw several herons standing above the River Leven Cut which drains the loch at its eastern corner.
Conditions were also good for the gliders which took off regularly from the airfield at Portmoak. We were intrigued to see the launching gear being winched back in following take-off: it seems these days you don’t need a powered aircraft to tow the glider up to a suitable height. Rather more effort is needed to reach the edge of Bishop Hill above Scotlandwell in order to launch a paraglider – we spotted a couple of these too, though we didn’t see them take off.
The Ochils were clearly outlined to the west and the Lomond Hills to the east, while behind the RSPB reserve at Vane Farm the escarpment of Benarty Hill provided a green and brown backdrop with rocky outcrops. A visit to any of these locations would have been rewarding though probably less sheltered than our low-level circuit.
What better way to start the year than a satisfying 20km walk on a fine day?
Thanks Caroline and Shay for your company.