The walk: Moncreiffe Hill – A wonderful woodland wander

Distance: 4 miles/6.5km

Time: 2-2½ hours

Since the Woodland Trust acquired Moncreiffe Hill, nearly 20 years ago, they have steadily developed the paths around the hill and these now provide an excellent network, with trails from 3km up to 8km. The route described here mixes and matches so as to give you a flavour of the hill’s character and visits both of its notable hillfort sites.

All the trails are clearly colour-coded and it is worth picking up the trails leaflet at the car park before you set off. This start point is a fairly recent development with the Trust having acquired more land in order to provide a northern entrance to the wood with a more spacious car park.

Moncreiffe Hill was largely planted in the 1950s and 60s with conifers but there was always an element of broadleaved woodland and this is steadily being developed as the conifers are removed. The wood offers considerable variety with some huge Douglas firs and mature Scots pines as well as oak, ash, birch and beech. The result is a habitat for a wide variety of creatures from roe deer and red squirrels to woodpeckers, jays and a huge range of invertebrates.

Wooden sculptures representing some of these creatures have been placed around the trail network, not always in obvious places, encouraging younger visitors in particular to explore the woods for themselves. See if you can find the eight Moncreiffe spiders (I didn’t) or the fox high on his lookout pole.

Moncreiffe Hill is a hogsback ridge with steep sides and wide views from the top. Ideal for a defensive stronghold and there are in fact two here, both commanding superb panoramas of the surrounding countryside. From Moncreiffe Hill Fort you look south, with Bridge of Earn at your feet and the cone of West Lomond prominent in the middle distance. The slightly higher Moredun Top Fort (223m) looks north and east, down the broad river strath towards Dundee and sweeping round to the cliffs of Kinnoull Hill opposite you, across the Tay to the city of Perth, and on to the higher mountains far beyond. You would indeed feel secure here, with the steep sides of the hill making it difficult for an enemy to mount a surprise attack. It is likely that Moncreiffe Hill was wooded even when the forts were constructed as its name derives from Monadh Craiobh, which means ‘hill of trees’. It is a peaceful place now. The exception is the southern edge of the wood, where the red route winds along a delightful little path contouring round the hill. Any birdsong is likely to be seriously muffled by the incessant throb of traffic on the M90 which is close by. That’s the price we pay for ease of access, but the path climbs away from the motorway in time. You are then faced with a steep climb up to the forts which will sort out your cardiovascular system. On the route described, this culminates in a long flight of steps, a veritable Jacob’s Ladder, but once at the top there is little more climbing to do before you are rewarded with the stunning views on either side.

Moncreiffe Hill is very well managed by the Woodland Trust. As a result, it can be enjoyed at all times of the year, but with the woods providing shelter it is ideal for winter walking. I look forward to going back and sampling more of its trails – and finding those elusive spiders.

Roger Smith

ROUTE PLANNER

Map: OS 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 58 (Perth & Alloa) or 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 369 (Perth & Kinross). Free trails leaflet available at the car park.

Distance: 4 miles/6.5km

Time: 2-2½ hours

Start/Finish: Woodland Trust Tay car park (GR: NO137211).

Public transport: None to the start. Nearest bus is in Bridge of Earn, 3km away. See www.travelinescotland.com

Information: Perth TIC, 01738 450600, www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Route: Walk up the access track from the car park into the woodland, following red markers. At junction in about 500m go R then swing L with track. Where green route goes left keep straight on. Where white route goes L go R on path. Follow path round S side of hill for 1km. Look carefully for yellow route going L uphill, and follow this. Climb path and then steep flight of steps. At top go L round to trig pillar and viewpoint on Moncreiffe Hill Fort. Return to junction and follow sign for Moredun Top Fort. At base of fort take path on L curving round hill and up to summit. Return to main junction and turn R (red and white routes). Keep R at all junctions to pick up outward path and return to car park.

Due to restrictions, we are running our favourite previously published walks. Please see www.gov.scot for current travel rules

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992