John Knox’s Pulpit, Glen Vale, Lomond Hills

In the Lomond Hills, Fife, Scotland there is a wonderful walk up Glen Vale to a small waterfall at the base of the hills. Just prior to the waterfall is an eroded grey sandstone rock formation known as John Knox’s Pulpit.

Starting from the small Glen Vale car park it’s a gentle sloping walk up through heather and fern clad hills following the valley up to the falls. The heather was a beautiful purple colour at this time of year.

This rock formation was laid down as desert sand dunes in the late-Devonian period, 410-353 million years ago, when this part of the Earth lay close to the Equator. The rock face shows thin layers called pin stripes which are characteristic of sand deposited by wind in an arid environment.

There was once a cave at the foot of the cliff which was reduced in size by a major rock fall in 2004. John Knox’s Pulpit is still in a hazardous condition and the pathway leading directly below it has been closed for public safety.

Though the 16th-century church reformer John Knox (c.1513-72) is not known to have visited Glen Vale, the natural amphitheatre formed by this outcrop of sandstone was used as a secret meeting place by Presbyterian Covenanters who held conventicles or church services here in the late 17th century.

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