We started one mile west of Brunton, at a height of 150m at a track, map ref 310209, easily identified by a new brown FCP signpost.
The steadily rising track heads SSW as if for 285m/936ft Norman’s Law with its obvious cairn, trig point and viewfinder. However, not far short of the summit the track curves west, traversing the northern wooded slopes of the hill, but giving good views north over the broad Firth of Tay. The track climbs to its high point at around 250m then gently descends in curving fashion through the fairly open Duchel Wood. There are a number of side tracks and these would be confusing were it not for the periodical markers. Finally, with open fields to the right, clear the trees at a gate to exit Ayton Hill forestry estate.
On descent south-west by the woodland edge, look out for the FCP signpost where another track, also marked Briardene, comes slanting in from the right, map ref 295193. Follow that latter track to pass by the small hamlet (shown as Glascairn on the Explorer map), on to a smaller track, then left on a narrow path with a burn on the left and open fields to the right. A developing grassy track cuts through open fields, heading south-west towards Glenduckie. However, just before that point there is a signposted sharp turn to the right (north), map ref 287189, and a track with a gate to enter Melgers Woodland estate. The waymarked route then takes a half anti-clockwise circuit of Glenduckie Hill. A grassy way leads through a plantation and suddenly there it is – the long-lost Tay. The route is now generally WSW, descending on a narrow grassy strip through a new plantation before rising gently to map ref 273195.
With Newburgh close to hand, the last section is particularly attractive. Go through a narrow pine plantation, parallel to the broad estuary of the Tay, whose many mud and sand islands were more obvious on our outing on account of the low tide. The most prominent island is Mugdrum Island, once a farm where reeds were harvested for thatching and for protecting potatoes during transhipment and now a nature reserve under the stewardship of the Tay Valley Wildfowlers’ Association.
The final section into Newburgh follows the road-side pavement.
Last week I wrote about Norman’s Law. This week I describe our completion of the new northern extension of the Fife Coastal Path (FCP), from Newport-on-Tay to Newburgh, during which Jimbo and I passed very close to the Law’s summit. With forecast harsh weather coming from the west, it was a last-minute change of plan – the Trossachs exchanged for north Fife, hopefully with a later arrival of rain and snow. Our timing was not quite spot on for we got quite wet in the last half hour and saw not one soul until reaching Newburgh.
The Brunton to Newburgh route, new to us, mostly follows tracks and field-side paths, but despite various sudden changes in direction, the mix of well-sited signposts, markers and new gates show the way. A map could be dispensed with; only required to identify one’s progress in traversing the undulating terrain of the low lying eastern extension of the Ochils.
Map: Ordnance Survey maps 58, Perth, and 59, St Andrews
Distance: 8 miles
Terrain: Mostly track and path
Start point: Track
Map ref 310209, one mile west of Brunton
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Nearest town: Newburgh
Recommended refreshment spot: Tiffin Tea Room, High Street, Newburgh