IT HAD been a while since I had taken the West Fife Way route that starts by Clackmannan and leads all the way to Dunfermline.

However, this time around, I opted to undertake a small section of the route in reverse, starting at the small car park near Brucefield and then heading westwards towards Clackmannan.

The verges of the track here were especially rich in wildflowers, including numerous common spotted-orchids, their intricate lilac-petalled spikes shining out like little floral beacons.

I also found common wintergreen, which despite the name, is a scarce plant with strange pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers. It was very much a case of the more you looked, the more you saw.

Bird life abounded too, and within the space of a few minutes I had spotted whitethroats and several young willow warblers.

By the edge of a nearby field a flash of blurry-brown caught my eye. It was a brown hare, which are sadly increasingly scarce creatures nowadays.

Hares have a quite remarkable turn of speed and the expression to ‘kiss a hare’s foot’, meaning ‘to be late’, alludes that for those that hesitate, the hare will be gone, leaving behind just the footprint.

The early 20th century naturalist Frances Pitt kept a pet hare, which held a mix of behaviours ranging from “extreme timidity and boldness, of rashness and suspicion, of cunning and of the most fragrant silliness”.

She described him as “...bold as brass, yet a more temperamental creature never walked. The slightest strange thing would upset him. I have seen him flee in crazy panic from his own shadow moving on the wall, temporarily mad with terror and liable to injure himself in his headlong, heedless flight”.

I get that feeling, too, when watching brown hares; the impression that they are clever creatures but with complex personalities.

With these thoughts swirling in my mind, I continued on my way towards Clackmannan, stopping every so often to marvel at the wildflowers on the track verges.