This 5 mile circular walk in West Fife makes use of a new path network linking to Balgownie Wood. Most of the walking is on reasonable surfaces especially where the new paths have been developed. A few sections could be a bit wet underfoot after heavy rain though. Most of the paths are flat with only about 100m of ascent in total throughout the route. The paths in the area have recently (2016) been created by West Fife Woodlands.
Start from a small parking area at the side of the B9037 at grid reference NT 000 883 about 1/2 km (1/3 of a mile) north of the village of Shiresmill, near Valleyfield. The spot is easily identifiable by the large interpretation board in the car park.
The path from the car park starts at the new pedestrian gate and takes you into a wooded area with young birch trees. Very soon you will reach a signpost for “Balgownie”. Keep right here to follow the signpost although it is also possible to go left to make a slightly longer loop. Both routes will bring you to a picnic bench beside the Grange Burn.
After the picnic bench you cross the burn on a new bridge and walk on a good path across a wetland where bulrushes grow in the Summer. Beyond the wetland another bridge takes you across the Bluther Burn and into the Forestry Commission managed Balgownie Wood. Turn left on to the forest track for about 300m until you see a small path heading off into the woods on your left hand side. Follow this pleasant path firstly through birch trees, then oak and later an “avenue” of beech and what looks like garden conifers. This path takes you along the southern edge of the wood close to the boundary fence before turning right to follow the western edge fence.
The forest becomes more traditional forestry commission spruce trees for a while as you walk on a carpet of shed needles. The path starts to head into the woods away from the boundary fence but look out for a path off to your left that will take you back towards the western edge of the forest and into deciduous trees. You will quickly reach the main forest track at the entrance to the woods. There are a number of tracks through these woods and it doesn’t really matter which ones you use provided you end up in this north east corner at the forest entrance. The route above is pleasant as it is mostly through deciduous trees rather than conifers and is off the hard surface of the forest vehicle tracks.
Turn left on to the forest track and walk out to the public road. Turn right and walk up the quiet road for about 650m passing the large farm Balgownie Mains. When the road turns sharp right, take the track that goes straight ahead signed for Bramble Brae. Keep straight on rather than going left to the house, passing through a gate in front of you. This gate leads you directly on to the Alloa to Dunfermline Cycle Track where you turn right.
After 700m on the cycle track you pass under a powerline and cross over a bridge. At this point you can decide to stay on the cycle track for easy walking or divert onto a softer surface track if you do not like walking on tarmac.
If you choose the second option, cross over the bridge and on your left hand side there is a steep (and potentially slippy) path down a bank connecting with the track that passes under the bridge. It’s unfortunate that despite both the lower level track and the cycle track being core paths that they do not connect together particularly easily. Go down this path and turn left to walk under the bridge. Follow the track round the back of Middle Grange house where it swings round to the left. There are newly planted trees in the fields at the sides of this track so in future years this section of the walk will be through woodland. Keep on the path until it reaches a wider vehicle access track where you turn left to East Grange farm. Follow the track past the farm to reach a public road.
Turn left onto the quiet road and after about 150m pass under the bridge carrying the cycle track. Go round the corner until you reach the access path to the cycle track on your right hand side. On joining the cycle track turn left to head eastwards.
After passing over the Comrie Viaduct an obvious path on your right hand side leads into the woods. Take this path and from time to time look back for glimpses of the viaduct between the trees. As this path is also a cycle track it has a reasonable surface. Follow the path round to the right (there are a few benches along this section if you need a rest) through a more open area, keeping right at two junctions. There are core path arrow posts at both junctions although the second one points to the left which will take you to Valleyfield Woods. Keeping right will take you downhill for about 300m back to the opposite side of the road from where you started the walk.
This route could be linked with a walk in Valleyfield Woods for a longer walk. Hopefully future path developments will open up the link to Devilla Forest to provide further options.
The red route shown below is as described. The blue line is the route keeping to the cycle track.
View / download a GPX route of this walk from Viewranger.
View / download a GPX route of this walk from Ordnance Survey.
© 2016 Fife Walking. All rights reserved. If using this route for a group or organised walk please credit Fife Walking as your source.