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walking stories  | europe | scotland | culross summary | culross walking story
Culross Historic Town, Fife, Eastern Scotland

THE STORY

A lunchtime walk

The Tolbooth

Some footpaths to explore next time

Fife Coastal Path

Panoramic photo >

 

I decided to stop off at Culross for a lunchtime walk on my way from Glasgow to a meeting at Dunfermline, on a sunny day in May.  There was just time for a short walk through the peaceful old town.  The last time I’d visited was 15 years earlier in 1991, for one of the last meetings of my time working in the tourism industry.  Normally I’d drive to Dunfermline via the Forth Road Bridge, which is dual carriageway all the way, but the route over the Kincardine Bridge is actually a shorter alternative provided you don’t get lost!  I have always found the roads in Fife require more care than other parts of Scotland, particularly down in the East Neuk.

 

To get to Culross, just after crossing the Kincardine Bridge you turn right, then take the next right turn off the main Axx.  This is an attractive country road, although it passes the massive Longannet Coal Fired Power Station on the right.  A couple of miles further and you approach Culross.  There’s a large car park on the right just as you enter the old town, looking across the Firth of Forth towards the petro-chemical complex at Grangemouth.  A railway line, and the Fife Coastal Path, run along the waterfront, so you could make this a stop on a longer walk or cycle ride. 

 

A paved path runs past public toilets and a play area to a grassy park, with the Town House (the Old Tolbooth) and a row of colourful old houses on the other side of the quiet main road running through the town.  They presented a splendid picture of historic properties.  I spent a bit of time here finding good vantage points for photos, whilst a group of people were enjoying a picnic on the grass, and a lone cyclist was having her packed lunch leaning up against an old stone wall on the other side of the park.

 

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Someone had left a car parked just outside the Tolbooth, and when he came back to pick up his next delivery I asked if he’d move along a bit, as he was in the middle of a great photo!  He was happy to oblige. 

The Tolbooth, built in 1625, was at one time both the law court and prison for Culross, and served as the Town House until local government reorganisation in 1975.  Now it is the National Trust for Scotland information centre for Culross, and is worth a visit to see the exhibition and get more information on the town and the various buildings.  You can read more about it on the Culross website, from which I gleaned this information.  The site is operated by the Culross Development Trust, which promotes the town to visitors. 

I didn’t have time to go into the visitor centre on this occasion, as I wanted to explore further along the narrow streets leading off the other side of the main road.

 

This collection of cobbled streets was even more remarkable than the impressive view of the Tolbooth, with a complete series of old houses, shops and inns. 

 

Other historic buildings that are now part of the National Trust for Scotland estate include the Palace from the start of the 17th century, and the Study of Bishop Leighton.  There are details of these on the Culross Development Trust website, and the National Trust for Scotland site.  Culross Abbey, in the North-East corner of the town, dates from the 13th century, and part of it became the parish church in1633.  The ruined sections are maintained by Historic Scotland.

 

I didn’t get as far as the Abbey either, but wandered around the narrow streets for a while, then spotted a couple of visitors walking across to the Tolbooth – perfect for a few more photos!  By then my time was used up, and I had to dash back to the car.  As I drove out to the east, I spotted a sign on the left for a footpath to Culross, suggesting there is scope for longer walks.

 

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Some footpaths to explore next time

 

I checked the map afterwards – this footpath leads back to Culross from the coast road, just a couple of hundred metres beyond the town.  It looks as though the track leads through woodland then turns west to Culross Abbey.  There are others linking the minor roads a little further to the north, offering the prospect of quiet circular walks. 

 

Other paths are marked to the west of the little town.  One runs from a lane on the north side of the town, west through fields then just within a forest plantation, joining the main A985 road just east of Bordie.  At Bordie a ruined castle is marked, and there’s a farm track running south through Bordie then turning left for half a mile, before another track turns right and bends down alongside a stream before it reaches the coast road mid-way between the Power Station and Culross.  From here you should be able to follow the road back towards Culross, and look out for an opportunity to join the coastal path for the final section.  

 

Then of course there’s the Fife Coastal Path , a superb achievement, running from Culross all the way around the coastline to the Tay Bridge, linking small towns and villages and their picturesque harbours, including Tayport, St Andrews, Anstruther, Aberdour, and Culross.  It’s suitable for cyclists as well as walkers.  You can easily walk or cycle sections of it, combined with inland paths.

 

Contributed by Andrew Llanwarne - May 2006

 

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< Back to Scotland page with links to other walks

 

 

 

Houses next to the Tolbooth

Houses next to the Tolbooth

Looking up Mid Causeway towards the Study of Bishop Leighton

Looking up Mid Causeway towards

the Study of Bishop Leighton

Looking up towards Kirk Street in the centre of the town

Looking up towards Kirk Street

n the centre of the town

The view back up Little Causeway towards the Dundonald Arms Hotel and the Market Cross beyond

Further down the Little Causeway, at the junction with the main street through Culross

Further down the Little Causeway, at the junction with the main street through Culross

Walking back towards the Tolbooth

Walking back towards the Tolbooth

 

Composite picture of the main street and Tolbooth from the park

Composite picture of the main street and Tolbooth from the park

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