Kilconquhar and Balcarres Tower Walk is a circular walk through open countryside with fine views, a stately home. a gothic folly and an attractive woodland walk.
How to get there:
From Crail take the A917 to Elie. One mile outside Elie on the road toward Upper Largo, take a right turn and follow the B941 toward Kilconquhar. Kilconquhar (known by the locals as Kinneuchar) is a quiet picturesque village with its attractive church and cottages. Just by the church is a car park where you can park all day for free. You can’t fail to spot the Kinneuchar Inn directly across the road from the car park which may be an ideal place to eat or have a drink after your walk.
The 95 bus also stops in Kilconquhar on its way to Leven. Click this link if you need information on bus times.
Start of the Walk
From the car park proceed up the road toward Colinsburgh. There is a footpath on the left which takes you all the way. Look out for Barnyards Marsh Wildlife Reserve and Barnyards village on your right as you leave Kilconquhar. As you walk up the road you may be able to catch a first glimpse of Balcarres Tower in a patch of trees above the white farmhouse on your right. On your left you will see Largo Law the subject of another of our blog posts and the highest point in the East Neuk of Fife. As you approach Colinsburgh look out for the old gas lamp built into the stone wall.
The Colinsburgh Gas Light Company was formed in 1841. The first street lamps in the village were supplied with coal gas in 1842 and lit on the evening of the Colinsburgh Fair. This lamp was converted in the spring of 1887 and was the first in Scotland to run on gas produced from Paraffin Oil.
On reaching Colinsburgh cross the road and proceed up North Wynd. Follow the right of way to the left. A few yards along the road the right of way turns right with stonewalls on either side. At the end of the track you will see a football field on the left. Continue up the tree lined earthen path until you come to a sheep field with a tower on the right. When we did this walk there were lambs in the field.
Dog owners are reminded to keep their dogs on a lead at all times. The law in Scotland allows a farmer or land owner to shoot your dog if it is running in a field where farm animals are grazing, it has happened.
Kilconquhar and Balcarres Tower Walk – Balcarres House
After the tower take the right fork and follow the road toward Balcarres House. The estate has been the property of the Lindsay family since 1586. The house is an impressive building, the west wing built in 1840 by General James Lindsay and the north wing added by Sir Coutts Lindsay in 1864. Sir Coutts was also responsible for the impressive garden terraces. in 1986 the family leased the house and gardens to the Balcarres Heritage Trust and they are responsible for maintaining the property and grounds.
The present owners are Lord and Lady Balneil. Lord Balneil, Anthony Robert Lindsay is a London based investment manager and heir apparent to his father the Earl of Crawford a title created in 1398. South African golfer Gary Player stayed at the house during the 2015 Open Golf Championship at St Andrews.
Sadly the house is not open to the public so please respect the owners privacy.
Continue on the road past the house on your right and at the cross roads take a right turn and walk toward a white gate. At the white gate you will find a cattle grid. Look through the trees on the right and you will find Balcarres Chapel. It is well worth having a look around. The chapel was built in 1635 for Lord Lindsay of Balcarres who is buried there.
Back to the road, look for a small narrow earthen path. This path will take you up to Balcarres Tower, a gothic folly flanked by two walls built in 1813. From here you can see the grand house and take in the views back toward Kilconquhar, the surrounding countryside, the Firth of Forth toward Edinburgh or across to the Isle of May and the Bass Rock.
On leaving the tower proceed east along an earthen path toward the Den Burn. The path in places is a bit overgrown with Rhododendron bushes on either side however persit along the path until you reach old mill buildings. Here you will be able to cross the burn taking a right turning and following a track through woodland. Continue down the track veering right and crossing another stone bridge. Immediately take a left and follow the earthen path down the side of the Den Burn for a great woodland walk. Here you will find many different types of our native trees as well as others from other parts of the world. Look out for the large Sequoia’s. The track leads down to the main road. Take a right and follow the path along the road back to Colinsburgh.
Kilconquhar and Balcarres Tower Walk – Colinsburgh
The village was named after Colin Lindsay 3rd Earl of Balcarres (1652 – 1722) who gifted the land on which the village was built. As you come into Colinsburgh from the east side, look out for the town hall which dates from 1894. Today the hall hosts a non profit community cinema . The present primary school next door dates from 1875.
Proceed along the main street to South Wynd. This is the road you came up from Kilconquhar. Proceed down the footpath at the side of the road back to Kilconquhar.
Kilconquhar to Balcarres Tower Walk – Kilconquhar Loch
Public access to the loch is through the churchyard. You will find a small gate at the bottom leading to a memorial garden and a seat giving you views across the loch.
If you are looking for a bite to eat or some liquid refreshment after your walk then you might like to try the local pub. For more details click this link.
Stay at Sandcastle Cottage Crail
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