Walk 114 – Dean Woods from Cairneyhill – 4.3 miles

The download/follow button on this post contains an affiliate link from which I make a small commission. More info in the Privacy Policy – linked in footer. 

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). If travelling by bus I suggest getting off on Main Street, Cairneyhill (war memorial) and picking up the route on Pitdinnie Road* (see route description below).

Route map - Dean Plantation from Cairneyhill

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!

Forestry Commision Scotland sign at entrance to Dean Woods
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!
View across farmland to Firth of Forth
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.
Woodland paths
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.
Very muddy woodland path
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 😉
Muddy woodland path
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….
Wide forestry trail
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.
Narrow woodland path
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.
Forestry Commission Scotland marker post at entrance to Dean Plantation beside Pitfirrane burn
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.
Muddy tractor tracks heading across the fields
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!
Metal farm buildings
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.
Path sign outside a residential property
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.
View over fields full of crops
This farmer had been busy!
Farm tracks
Back onto a muddy track for the final section down onto Main Street.
Stone ruin - Thimble Hall
Interesting ruin we walked past. Very overgrown now and I couldn’t find out much about it online however it would appear that it Thimble Hall, 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!

Find more walks like this:

Share This Post

Support the continued creation of free, high quality content on this website by becoming a Patron or by making a one-off donation.