I started writing this post weeks ago, got waylaid with other things and forgot to complete it; today I found it again and thought it was high time I finished it off.
I began tapping it out just after I’d lunched with a chum near Kinross, in the delightful Loch Leven’s Larder.
On that occasion I didn’t take photographs of the main course, but I had a large bowl of minestrone soup (spelt ministrone on the menu, although there was nothing miniature about it), which was very tasty, and my chum had a Ploughman’s sandwich.
Loch Leven’s Larder is one of the many eateries in Perthshire that provides truly excellent scones. We each opted for a fruit scone, which was served with butter and raspberry jam.
They also do very nice Teapigs tea, and we swished our scones down with several cupfuls.
After our repast, when we had gone our separate ways, I scooted off towards the Lomond Hills, with the intention of clocking up a bit of healthy exercise
The Lomond Hills, I can tell you (courtesy of my lunch chum, who’s a geologist by trade), were “formed by a series of igneous sills made of dolerite. Sills are igneous intrusions formed when magma forces its way between layers of sedimentary rock. Dolerite is an intrusive form of basalt and is hard and resistant to erosion, which is why it forms hills”.
Off I trotted up a marked path towards East Lomond.
All the way up I met not a single soul, but plenty of birds of the lbj (little brown job) variety, as well as a few sheep that were grazing on the hill’s slope.
As is the way of things at the tops of hills, there was a bit of a view from the summit.
There was also a direction indicator (a concrete block about 4ft high with a circular plate on top indicating the names of the hills in the distance). I approached it at the same time as two other people, who had come up from a path on the other side of the hill.
This was unfortunate timing, as we all wanted to lean on the concrete block after our climb up. I gave way to them as they were somewhat longer in the tooth than me and perhaps more in need of a leaning post. Instead, I walked around admiring the views in all directions, and appreciated the strong cooling gusts of wind that buffeted me.
Getting down was a much quicker affair than climbing up, partly because I ran most of the way, which was a most exhilarating business.
At the bottom of the slope I saw something I’d glanced at on my way up, and decided to take a closer look:
The limekiln trail occupied a somewhat boggy area with an old limekiln and a pond in it, and a number of information boards dotted about:
From the boards I learned some interesting things, including the fact that the high content of lime in the soil and water had led to great ecological diversity. Contained in this small area there was a surprising variety of plants and animals, including orchids, butterflies, dragonflies and birds.
One of the boards explained that the ecological value of this place was a product of its industrial history, which pleased me and reminded me of the machair, grassy plains that explode with wildflowers in the summer and support a lot of wildlife. The machair is typical of the Outer Hebrides and its success is apparently due to the way the land is managed by crofters, who farm on a small scale in an environmentally beneficial manner. This is a bit different from the limekilns situation, but another example of how man and nature can work well together.
When I’d been round all the boards, I went back out of the gate and ran along the grassy path towards the car park. The hill in the distance is West Lomond, the other prominent peak in the Lomond Hills.
After all that running around, climbing hills and whatnot, you might imagine I was in need of some refreshment, and you’d be quite right.
I made for a favourite tearoom of mine, Pillars of Hercules, just outside Falkland in Fife and only a few miles from the Lomond Hills.
Although in the hills it had been rather overcast, just a little lower down in Falkland it was gloriously sunny. It was so nice, in fact, that I opted to sit outside the toilet block, which was a much more pleasant arrangement than you might think from that description. The tables (and, rather luxuriously, footstools) were made out of bits of tree trunk:
Given the surprisingly high temperature of the afternoon, I decided to forego my usual hot beverage and chose a deliciously sweet cloudy apple juice. The juice alone would probably have been quite sufficient, as I was more thirsty than hungry, but I accidentally ordered a seeded sort of granola type flapjack at the same time:
It proved to be a happy accident, being very tasty and satisfying, and just the thing to sustain me on my drive home.