Walk 114 – Dean Woods from Cairneyhill – 4.3 miles

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Starting from the village of Cairneyhill in Fife, this circular walk takes you along a quiet country road then around the outskirts of the impressive Dean woodland before returning to the village via farm tracks. Expect lots of mud! 

Print  Dog-friendly walk

  Parking area at the Scout Hall, Cairneyhill ( KY12 8RN)

route-image  Route: From the parking area head across the open grassland and out onto Pitdinnie Road. Turn left and follow the road gently uphill past the Forrester Park Golf Club. Shortly after the road bends right you will see a green Forestry Commission notice board for the Dean Plantation. Turn right here, following the narrow earth track into the trees. After approximately 0.3 miles look out for a fork in the path where you turn left. Initially this path heads uphill then down before bending right and widening onto flatter ground. You will emerge onto a gravel road. Turn left onto the road to continue walking in the same direction as before. At the end of the road turn right and at a green barrier next to Lundin Road take the narrow footpath on your right. There are a few splits in the path during this section. Keep to the higher ground when you have the option, along the edge of the woodland. After a downhill stretch, you will emerge next to a burn. Turn left here to follow the Crossford Burn across the farmland towards two large blue buildings belonging to Pitconnochie Farm. On reaching a minor road turn right. Just before Hilton House there is a way marker which sends you left into some trees and around the outskirts of the property. At the other side you will emerge onto a wide farm track. Keep right at the fork. At the end of the road turn right onto A994/Main Street and then take the first right onto Pitdinnie Road. After crossing Torry Burn turn left to enter an open grassy area. The parking area is straight ahead.


WALK REVIEW: 10th February 2017

Having a country park in my hometown called the ‘Dean‘, when I found out that my friend had a ‘Dean’ close to her in Fife too, I was intrigued to pay it a visit! Apparently the plantation’s name comes from Pitfirrane Dean – a deep gorge which runs through it’s Eastern side.

We began with a stroll along Pitdinnie Road (pictured above), a quiet rural road with farmland on one side and the golf course on the other. If you were to continue along it until the end you would come to a dismantled railway which stretches across the area all the way from Alloa to Dunfermline, forming the part of the West Fife Cycle Way (NCN route 764). A walk for another day!

I was thankful for the grand signpost marking the entrance to the Dean from this end, because otherwise we would perhaps have walked past it!
A temporary gap in the trees afforded us this stunning view across farmland and the golf course to Cairneyhill village and the Firth of Forth beyond.
In the route description I mention a discreet fork in the path approx 0.3 miles into the woods. Here you see how easily the turn could be missed. I was grateful to have downloaded the route to my phone the previous night and I did check it several times during the day to ensure we were on the right track.
Mud! Lots and lots of mud! I really hadn’t expected anything like this. It was so bad that we actually had to walk on the very edges of the path to avoid sinking in, holding onto trees in some places! Thankfully we saw the funny side of it and spent most of the afternoon giggling about how long it was taking us to get anywhere and how glad we were not to have brought the dog with us. We considered turning back at one point, for a split second, when my friend’s trainer disappeared ankle-deep into a boggy puddle. By then we were more than halfway round so it made more sense to keep going and hope conditions underfoot improved. Her foot was soaking now anyway….. things could only get better 😉
I would say that things did dry up slightly after that point. It was still muddy but more solid and therefore possible to walk on. It was somewhere around here that we met another woman heading in the opposite direction. She was the only person we bumped into all afternoon. At least we weren’t the only crazies stomping around in these conditions! We thought back to the terrible mud we had just come through and wondered a)if we should have warned her and b)why neither of us thought to throw a quick glance at her boots to determine what we might expect the next section to be like! We met her again later on so she had clearly done a similar loop to us and at that point she made a joke about us managing to stay on our feet. I cringed at the realisation of how bad a choce my knee-length cream down jacket had been….
This short section of the walk was much easier-going and we managed to pick up speed. We were both very aware of how slow we had been over the previous couple of miles and needed to keep a check on the time if we wanted to be out of here before dusk.
After another short muddy stretch, the final part of the route through the Dean was much more manageable. The path skirted around the outer edge of the plantation at an elevated level, offering occasional glimpses down into the deep gorge known as Pitfarrane Dean.
Pitfirrane Dean – such a peaceful spot, and the feature which gives the plantation it’s name. I could imagine returning here with a picnic in better weather.
From the burn we headed away from the woodland and onto open farmland. This is the view looking back towards the Dean Plantation. I tend to get nervous if a walk involves crossing a field so I was reassured to see that the farmer had placed a polite notice at the start of the track asking walkers to please avoid walking on the growing crops. If they all did that at least we would know where we stood!
The blue buildings of Pitconnochie Farm, seen now a few times during the walk. I incorrectly assumed that this concrete road would take us all the way back to Cairneyhill but in fact it turned into a farm track at Hilton House, a cottage a short way along.
In other words, ‘please do not walk through our garden’ 🙂 The sign directed us into a small woodland and around the cottage’s land, joining up with the ‘road’ again at the other side.
This farmer had been busy!
Back onto a muddy track for the final section down onto Main Street.
Interesting ruin we walked past. Very overgrown now and I couldn’t find out much about it online however it would appear that it was formerly the home of a local farmer back in the 19th century.

So that’s that! Despite the mud I would definitely do this circuit again. In fact I even commented to my friend that we should return in summer to find out whether it dries up or if it is just a year-round mud bath….  I have also read that it’s Eastern side, along the gorge, comes alive with bluebells during the month of May which I would love to witness! It certainly looked to be a well-used woodland with mountain bike tracks and footprints the whole way round. Do let me know how you find it during your visit!

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