Walk of the Week: Lochore Meadows Country Park, Fife

MY TWO young children are like most two- and five-year-olds; full of beans, laughter, contradictions and the ability to make you smile even when they wake at 4am.

And like all parents, I only want them to do things that make them happy and keep them safe.

When it comes to going out walking, I hope they will get as much out of being in the countryside as I do, whether it be up a mountain, along a beach or through woodland.

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So, to avoid putting them off wearing a pair of walking boots, I have decided that a gentle introduction is necessary. Dragging a child moaning and crying up a steep mountainside runs the risk of portraying walking as an activity to be dreaded.

One good way to get very young children interested is to provide plenty of distractions along the way, whether it is a snack or tales of bears in the woods. Lochore Meadows Country Park, in Fife, is a good place to head. Here there is a loch with wildfowl to look at, a playground and a walk in the woods above. Maybe the promise of going up a “mountain” in days to come if they are “good walkers” will whet their appetite for a life amidst the wonderful countryside across Scotland. Here’s hoping.

DISTANCE 3½ miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED 300ft.

TIME 1½ to 2 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 58.

PARKING Drive a couple of miles north of Lochgelly on the B920 and turn left at a roundabout to reach the country park centre.

IN SUMMARY Walk to the park centre from the car park and go left to reach the edge of the loch. Then go right to follow a well-made path 
by the water’s edge.

Ignore paths to the right and follow the lochside all the way to a metalled track, where you go left. Pass through a metal gate and then, a little further on, go right to enter Harran Hill Wood, by an information board and metal gate.

Keep on the main track as you go uphill, ignoring turnings to the left. The track gets steeper further up, as it bends left. After starting to drop down a little, take a path on the left to reach the edge of the wood and a good view over Fife’s rolling hills.

Return to the main track and go left, downhill. Lower down, go through a gate and turn right to follow a track out of the woods and between fields. After enjoying a good view over Loch Ore, continue on the track, over a small burn, to a grassy, open area. Go right here, following a green arrow next to a metal gate to enter a field.

Follow a muddy farmer’s track down and to the right and, at the bottom right-hand corner of the field, cross a stile by a metal gate. Continue to a track and on the other side (and slightly to the right) cross a stile to re-enter woodland. A grass path leads to a made one, where you go right. Pass an old mine wheel and coal board train engine, then go left on to another path, which leads back to the park centre.

REFRESHMENTS There is a café at the park centre, at the start and finish of the walk.

WHILE IN THE AREA You have until the end of the month to visit Lochleven Castle before it closes for winter. Historic Scotland (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) runs boat trips across Loch Leven to the stronghold. Or head for Vane Farm (www.rspb.org.uk), on the south shore of Loch Leven, a great place for bird-spotting –with a number of hides and an observation room. It has a good café as well.