Walk 112 – The Limekilns in Charlestown, Fife – 3.8 miles

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A combination of coastal footpaths and inland countryside tracks give this circuit variety. Starting along the promenade, delve into the history of the village of Charlestown as you pass the 14 limekilns which were quarried into the cliffs in the 1700s. Walk on the former Elgin railway followed by a minor road high behind the village before returning to the shorefront via a series of farm and woodland tracks. Pass the impressive Broomhall House en route, as well as the Limekilns War Memorial. Expect some mud in places.

Print  Dog-friendly walk

  Harbour Car Park just off the Promenade on the edge of Limekilns village (KY11 3HH). Closest train station is Dunfermline, 3.5 miles (5.5 km) away. Local bus service to Limekilns village stops at the harbour where the walk begins. Limekilns village sits on the NCN 76 cycle route along the Fife coast so can also be reached by bike.

Limekilns, Charlestown

WALK REVIEW: 3rd February 2017

We have been trying out different routes around Dunfermline of late whilst walking a friend’s dog and decided to venture to the coast today. Had we given it some thought beforehand we would have realised that taking a golden retriever to the shore when you have no intention of letting him off the lead is not big and not clever….. However, the story starts before that…

It was the first time we had taken one year old Bodhi out in the car and we were a little nervous about it. Imagine our surprise and relief when we opened the boot and he jumped right in and made himself comfortable! Brilliant! We literally said “Wow, that was much easier than I expected!” Less than a minute later and he had clambered across into the back seat and was using a window sponge as a toy…. Ok, perhaps not quite as easy as we thought. We were very insistent that this was not on and promptly marched him round the car and back into the boot. Only for the same thing to happen again (minus the sponge this time which had been safely removed from his sight). There he remained for the 15 minute journey to the start point of our walk. Humans 0, dog 1 :-/

The next incident occurred within 10 seconds of getting out the car at the other end. Bodhi spotted the sea, or the dog on the beach, or both we are not sure. In any case he made a sprint across the grass towards it, his lead extending at top speed and Lesley’s hand gripping the handle bracing for the inevitable tug. Bodhi kept going but the lead reached it’s limit and Lesley summersaulted landing bum first on the grass. After checking she was ok I started racing after Bodhi who was now on the sand, still running, but now with his whole lead bouncing behind him as well. One step off the grass and onto the piles of dried black seaweed and I somehow managed to put my foot right into some sort of gooey brown gunk.  Goodness knows what the two women on the beach must have thought of the scene!! We were able to laugh it off, but we did decide there and then not to bring him a walk near water again until we were able to trust him (and let him have fun) off the lead…

So, not exactly the ideal start to the day but let’s get on with the actual walk now! It had been Lesley’s suggestion to come and see the Limekilns and having done some research online I was really looking forward to exploring the area. It is definitely my favourite of all the walks we have done so far around Dunfermline: varied, scenic and with interesting historical features. The walk was ideal for dogs, our only concern being a short stretch along West Road which has no pavement.

The photo tour tells the rest of the story….

The walk starts in between the picturesque villages of Limekilns and Charlestown
We reached the limekilns pretty soon after setting off and I really enjoyed reading about their history. I will admit I didn’t know before today what lime was used for, nor precisely the purpose of a limekiln…. despite the fact that my father-in-law lives in a bungalow on top of one in the village of Dunure, Ayrshire!  The 14 limekilns here in Charlestown made it one of the most important sites in Scotland during industrial times and it remains the largest group of limekilns in the country.  Currently fenced off for security, repair work is underway by Historic Environment Scotland to preserve the site and allow safe access for visitors in the future.
The ‘old harbour’, Charlestown at low tide. Formerly used to export locally-mined coal and lime and also as a ferry terminal serving Bo’ness
Leaving the promenade behind, the walk moved onto the former railway line. Originally a wooden line serving the saltworks, it was upgraded in the 1840s, becoming the “Elgin line” (because it was acquired by the Earl of Elgin), transporting passengers between here and Dunfermline.
This narrow earth footpath came as a surprise after wide tarmac pavements until this point!
The wooden slats of the Elgin railway still intact and making for an interesting footpath! Imagine the days when horses pulled wagons along here! To the right the upgraded line built in the 1840s to accommodate steam locomotives. Note the bridge to the right which we would soon cross….
Footbridge over the railway track. Reached via a set of steps.
Lovely views out across the Firth of Forth from this high vantage point
After walking along a minor road for approx 1 mile, we turned right down the NCN 76 cycle track. We passed this building – part of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, a charity which aims to “promote and encourage the appropriate repair of traditional buildings, and to conserve and develop the associated building traditions, crafts and skills through training and education.” This is one of their training centres.
The road twisted and turned gently uphill through farmland.
Within the grounds of the Broomhall Estate
Broomhall House. I had to take a slight de-tour to take this photo of it and I think (I know because the signs told me!) that I shouldn’t really have been walking so close to it.  At the time of our walk I was convinced I had read that this was used as a wedding venue however I have since realised that I had it confused with a building of similar name – Broomhall Castle (in Stirlingshire). No idea how I did that, but I blame google 😉 I did think that it looked a little eerie and in need of some TLC before anyone would hire it for their wedding, as grand as the mansion appears. So, not a wedding venue but rather the historic home of the Earls of Elgin. This article by Marjorie McGinn contains some interesting history about the place.
Gated farm track leading away from Broomhall Estate and into the adjoining woodland.
Site of a former quarry
Elevated footpath through the woods which leads back into Charlestown. This was a really lovely place to walk and we discussed that in summer the views out along the coast are most likely hidden by the trees.
Limekilns War memorial

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