Number 2 child has been at university in Dundee for the last few years. In that time, the drive up to Dundee has taken us past an obvious classic lump a number of times, but we have until now never had time to stop to visit the summit. The driver descending from the plateau around Kinross to the estuaries of the Tay and Earn is made immediately aware that there is some geology in these parts. After the descent, the M90 cuts across a rocky ridge, leaps the Tay on a tall and airy bridge, and turns sharply eastwards under a dramatic rocky cliff, which forms the southern edge of Kinnoull hill.
Kinnoull hill itself, Moncrieffe Hill just to the south, through which the M90 carves its way, and the hills forming the south edge of the Tay/Earn valley are all part of a large area of volcanic rocks called the Ochil Volcanic Formation, dating back to Early Devonian times. Further west, these rocks form the Ochil hills to the north of Stirling and Alloa. In the vicinity of the Tay estuary, they are split into two parts by a sedimentary basin containing the estuary itself.
Kinnoull Hill is Perth’s own mountain, just as Arthur’s Seat is to Edinburgh, and Montana Chayofita is for Las Americas. You would not think this from the M90/A90, as the town is hidden away behind the cliff. The hill is one of those where the relatively small ascent can be done mostly by car, leaving a very pleasant, easy woodland stroll from the car park to the edge of the cliff.
We did the loop shown in purple on the map in the clockwise direction, arriving at the cliff close to the tower. This is a folly, built (if one is to believe Wikipedia) by the 9th Earl of Kinnoull, to resemble castles and watchtowers along the Rhine gorge.
The path along the cliff descends a little before ascending to the summit, providing a splendid view back to the tower and out along the Tay as it heads towards its estuary. The actual summit of the hill features an Ordnance Survey trig point, a view indicator, and a brass plaque with some historical information and a splendidly Victorian poem.
From the summit, the path leads back through the woods to the car park. This part of the walk is pleasant, but less interesting than the clifftop section.