This section of the Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline starts in one of Scotland’s oldest Royal Burghs.
Culross (pronounced Coo ross) is one of the most picturesque burghs in Scotland. Culross in Gaelic Cuilean Ros means holy point or promontory. Situated on the north bank of the Firth of Forth between Dunfermline and Stirling its little houses and cobbled streets provide a picture postcard appearance. Culross is popular with artists and Outlander fans will recognise it as the fictional village of Cranesmuir.
Car Parking for the Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline
The walk starts officially (according to Fife Pilgrim Way website) at the car park on the shore. There are public toilets and the cost to use the facilities is 30p.
A Tour of the Royal Burgh of Culross
Culross is very picturesque and worth doing some sightseeing before you start the walk. The climb up to the abbey is steep and partly on cobbles which can be strenuous for some. However well worth a visit and for us this is the start of the Pilgrim Way.
The abbey was founded in 1217 by Malcolm Earl of Fife and was built on the site of an earlier Pictish Monastery dedicated to St Serf who is supposedly buried there. The story goes that St Serf is said to have thrown his staff across the Firth of Forth and built a church where it landed in about the year 700 AD. St Serf is said to have performed many miracles including slaying dragons and healing the afflicted.
The importance of Coal Mining
In the parish church you will find the tomb of Sir George Bruce who built Culross Palace now owned by the National Trust for Scotland which you can visit in the main street.
The monks of Culross Abbey owned the coal mining rights in the area and leased these rights to Sir George Bruce in 1575. Sir George created the Moat Pit which was way ahead of its time stretching under the Forth making Culross a centre for the coal mining industry.
The Next Part of the Tour
Proceed down Kirk Street towards the Market Cross surmounted by a unicorn. This is the national animal of Scotland. Overlooking the square is a pink harled 17th century house with a lintel over the front window which translates “God provides and will Provide” On the other side of the road an outside staircase leads to a house known as the Nunnery which was a brothel!
The Outlander Connection
Outlander fans may recognize the large white tower house which was painted grey in the first series of Outlander. This was the house of Gaylis Duncan used as a prison for those found guilty of witchcraft. There is a touch of irony here from Outlanders author Diana Gabaldon.
At this point I recommend a slight detour along Erskine Brae past the Locket Well. Proceed down the steps past the sign marked “Hanging Gardens” for a great view over the gardens, Firth of Forth and Culross Palace. After taking a few minutes to admire the view proceed down Bessie Bar Steps to the bottom with the palace on the left.
After you have followed our alternative route it might be worth stopping for a coffee or a light snack before starting to walk the Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline. We would recommend the Biscuit Cafe. The food is excellent and the staff are very friendly. It is also a chance for a free toilet stop before starting the walk.
Start the Walk
Follow the road named Low Causeway out of Culross keeping to the pavement on the left. Look out for the ruin of St Mungo’s Chapel (St Mungo also known as St Kentigern). After St Mungo’s Chapel keep a watchful eye for the waymarker on the right hand side of the road at Pond Cottage. Walk down station path, cross the railway track and join the Fife Coastal Path turning left into Torryburn Meadows.
Torryburn Meadows a good spot for wildlife
Torryburn Meadows was formed from waste from the local coal fired power station at Longannet (now closed) Pause for a moment to read the information board on the right. It highlights some of the different types of birds and wildlife to look out for on this part of the walk.
If you would like to find out more about this section of the walk see our blog Walking the Fife Coastal Path Kincardine to Limekilns
Follow the path through the trees with railway track on your left until you come to a bridge. Cross the bridge keeping a watchful eye for your next waymarker directing you along a tarmac path to the main road.
Valleyfield Colliery and the area’s mining past
Proceed along the pavement towards the village of Newmills. Look out for the monument marking the site of Valleyfield Colliery which closed in 1978. Valleyfield was the scene of one of the worst pit disasters in Fife when 35 men lost their lives in 1939 when gas caught light and set fire to coal dust.
Cross the bridge and take a right turning down the path towards the shoreline at Newmills. Continue along the road and under the railway bridge towards Torryburn. On reaching Torryburn keep walking along the main street taking a left turn at the childrens play area. Do not follow the signs for the Fife Coastal Path.
Continue through the village of Torryburn past the old church on the right now sadly disused. The footpath follows the road up towards a large cemetery on the right. There are traffic lights controlling traffic over a narrow bridge over the railway.
Do not walk over the bridge
Here the signage for the route is not good. Do not walk over the bridge. There is a metal gate to the right. Go through the gate and you will find a waymarker hidden behind the gate directing you up an old road. Follow the road with old beech trees on either side until you reach another gate and the busy A985.
Cairneyhill and a stop for lunch
Cross the road and proceed down the farm road on the opposite side towards Cairneyhill. At the end of the road take a right turn and walk up the main street. We stopped for lunch at Fairley’s Garden Centre where they serve coffees and light lunches all day. It is also a good toilet stop.
At the very end of the main street on your way out of Cairneyhill look out for the next waymarker taking you down a right of way called Hilton Road towards Crossford. On reaching Crossford do not proceed into the village. Cross the road and proceed up Kirkwood Crescent.
The Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline the home stretch
At the top of the road take a left and follow the road towards Knockhouse Farm. At the farm take a right turn and walk behind the farm buildings and follow the grassy path towards Dunfermline. As you walk along the path you get your first view of the abbey in front of you and you can imagine what it was like for the pilgrims all those years ago.
At the end of the path you have reached Dunfermline. Cross the road which can be busy depending on the time of day and proceed down Cameron Street. At the end of the street turn right and follow the road down until you come to Pittencrieff Park. Follow the waymarkers through the park to Dunfermline Abbey and the end of this part of the walk.
Public Transport Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline
For those who want to use public transport to walk the Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline. There is an hourly bus service from Dunfermline bus station to Culross which takes 36 minutes. See Stagecoach Website or download the Transport Scotland App for the App store. There are also public toilets at the bus station.
Hot Tip Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline
There are several side streets only a short walk from the bus station that you can park for free all day.
Verdict on this walk Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline
If I had limited time and could not walk all of the route to St Andrews would I
- Walk this section of the Fife Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline
- Consider walking this section
- Leave it
I would consider it. The walk took us approximately 4 hours. If you don’t have enough time to do the walk a visit to Culross and Dunfermline should definitely be on your itinerary.
Planning to Walk the Pilgrim Way Culross to Dunfermline.
- Check the bus times using the Stagecoach website or the Travel Line Scotland App.
- Make sure you are well equipped. A good pair of boots or stout shoes are essential.
- Take waterproof clothing even in summer.
- Buy a map of the route. (click on the image below)
There is also a book written by Dr Ian Bradley on the Pilgrim Way which may be of interest to you. I hope you enjoy the walk.
Staying at Sandcastle Cottage Crail
Sandcastle Cottage is up to an hours drive from anywhere you want to visit in Fife. For more information about Sandcastle Cottage and the facilities we have to offer including prices and availability click on our website at www.2crail.com or click on the Book Now Button below.