One of the most picturesque churches in Scotland is the starting point for a quiet saunter along an old railway line transformed into a nature trail.
The St Vigeans Nature Trail sets off from the tiny village of St Vigeans, dominated by an impressive sandstone church sitting atop a small hill in the centre of the community. Below, in the crescent of quaint little cottages, is a small museum, housing a collection of Pictish artifacts. This is well worth a quick visit, as is the steeply sloping graveyard, home to many interesting and unusual headstones. The trail itself, lined with trees and shrubs that are home to birds and foxes, runs through predominantly open country. Accompanied for much of the way by a bubbling wee stream, it skirts by Letham Grange, a mansion house hotel boasting its own 18 hole golf course.
From the car park, cross a stone bridge over the burn and head towards the church. Turn right beyond an area of grass with a park bench and enter a small cemetery. The way runs through a grove of neatly clipped yew trees to reach a wooden footbridge over the burn on the right. Cross and immediately turn left, joining the old railway trackbed. It heads north, running parallel with the burn, an open field on the right. The peaceful path skirts through shrubs to emerge on to a road at a fine stone bridge over the burn, a kilometre on. An old mill here has been sympathetically renovated into a house.
Cross the road and rejoin the trackbed. It continues north, passing by the entrance to a house, 500 metres on. Beyond this, the way skirts behind a row of new houses before passing through a cutting and under an old railway bridge. At the end of the cutting, views open out over a golf course on the right, to Letham Grange. The path arrives at the remains of an old station and, a few yards on, joins a road. Turn left and follow the road up through a deep cutting. Ignore the entrance to East Mains of Colliston Farm, on the right, and turn left at the next road junction.
A quiet country road, lined by leafy deciduous woodland, heads south, dipping before curving up between open fields. Carry straight on at the next junction, staying with the road, to reach Peebles Farm. On from here are the remains on an old wartime airfield in the form of hangers now used to store farm machinery and straw. This was once connected to the RM Condor marine base, which was a naval aerodrome during the last war. Continue south, ignoring a track on the left, and the way continues to be flanked by open crop fields. The route skirts the high rear perimeter fence of RM Condor to reach a junction at Mains of Letham. Don't turn left but carry straight on past a pair of cottages and through the farm.
The road curves left and then right, running straight alongside strawberry fields. When St Vigeans Manse is reached, on the left, turn left, and a section of disused tarmac leads to the minor road back down to St Vigeans.
Distance 5 miles/8km. ;
Map OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 54. ;
Start/parking St Vigeans Church (grid ref NO 640429). There's a public car park on the opposite side of the burn and one behind the church. ;
Grading A level walk along an old railway trackbed and quiet country roads suitable for all the family.