Distance: 4 miles / 6.5 km

Duration: 2-2½ hours

Since the Woodland Trust acquired Moncreiffe Hill almost 20 years ago, they have continued to develop the trails around the hill and these now provide an excellent network, with trails ranging from 3km to 8 km. The route described here blends together to give you a feel for the character of the hill and to visit its two notable hilltop sites.

All of the trails are clearly color coded and it is worth picking up the trail flyer from the parking lot before heading out. This starting point is a fairly recent development, the Trust having acquired more land in order to provide a northern entrance to the woods with more spacious parking.

Moncreiffe hill was largely planted in the 1950s and 1960s with conifers, but there has always been an element of deciduous forest and this grows steadily as the conifers are removed. The wood offers great variety with some huge mature Douglas-fir and Scots pines as well as oak, ash, birch and beech. The result is habitat for a wide variety of creatures, from deer and red squirrels to woodpeckers, jays and a wide range of invertebrates.

Wooden sculptures depicting some of these creatures have been placed around the trail system, not always in obvious places, encouraging young visitors especially to explore the woods on their own. See if you can find Moncreiffe’s eight spiders (I didn’t) or the fox high on his watchmast.

Moncreiffe Hill is a hog-back ridge with steep sides and wide views from the top. Ideal for a defensive stronghold and there are actually two here, both overlooking stunning vistas 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. The slightly higher Moredun Top Fort (223m) looks north and east, along the broad strata of the river towards Dundee and sweeping towards the cliffs of Kinnoull Hill in front of you, across the Tay to to the city of Perth, and to the highest mountains far beyond. You would indeed feel safe here, the steep sides of the hill making it difficult for an enemy to launch a surprise attack. It is likely that Moncreiffe Hill was forested even when the forts were built 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 woods, where the red road winds along a charming little path around the hill. Any bird song is likely to be seriously muffled by the incessant roar of traffic on the nearby M90. That’s the price to pay for the ease of access, but the path pulls away from the highway over time. You are then faced with a steep climb to the forts which will regulate your cardiovascular system. On the described route it ends with a long flight of steps, a real Jacob’s Ladder, but once at the top there is not much more to do before being rewarded with the stunning views to either side .

Moncreiffe Hill is very well managed by the Woodland Trust. As a result, it can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but with the woods that shelter it, it is ideal for winter walks. I can’t wait to go back and sample more of its trails – and find these elusive spiders.

Roger smith

ROUTE PLANNER

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

Distance: 4 miles / 6.5 km

Duration: 2-2½ hours

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

Public transport: None until departure. The nearest bus is at Bridge of Earn, 2 miles away. See www.travelinescotland.com

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

Route: Go up the access track from the car park to the woods, following the red markers. At the junction about 500m go R then turn L with track. Where the green lane goes to the left, continue straight. Where the white road goes L go R on the way. Follow the path around the S side of the hill for 1 km. Look carefully for the yellow road that goes up in L and follow it. Uphill path then steep stairs. At the top, take the L-shaped turn to the pillar of trig and the viewpoint on the hill fort of Moncreiffe. Return to the crossroads and follow the signs to Moredun Top Fort. At the base of the fort, take the path over the round L-shaped hill and climb to the top. Return to the main crossroads and turn R (red and white roads). Keep R at all crossroads to take the outside path and return to the parking lot.

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


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