Blairadam Forest is a popular recreational area on the edge of Kelty. The forest offers facilities for the walker / cyclist in the form of two formal car parks (both free), picnic tables and three waymarked trails. The forest is centred around the Blairadam House and was a designed landscape in the 1700s. Nowadays it is a commercial forest managed by Forestry and Land Scotland, although the house and estate parkland is still clear of forestry. Being a working forest there may be times when trails are closed due to forestry operations.
As well as the waymarked trails there are many more tracks and informal paths that can be explored. The routes below are only suggestions and many more options are possible. These routes all start from the Forestry Commission Clentry car park at grid ref NT 129 946. This is the lower car park at the forest workshops. From the picnic area and upper car park beside the public road, follow the tarmac road down into the forest for 950m to reach the lower car park.
Blairadam Route Map
Route 1 – Waymarked Trails
It is easily possible to link the three short waymarked trails together into one longer circular route. This route is shown in red on the route map above. This does not reflect the colour coding of the waymarker posts on the ground.
- Distance: 3.8 miles / 6.1 km
- Ascent: 410 feet / 125 m
- Terrain: waymarked paths and tracks – mostly reasonable surfaces
Start the walk from the lower car park by walking back up the road towards the forest entrance. Before the bridge at the corner, leave the road on a path to the left, alongside the burn and waterfall. This is the Blue Keltyhill Glen Trail. The path loops back northwards around the back of the car park. Keep left at a path junction next to a bridge to follow the path to where it meets with the main forest track.
From this point turn right into the forest to reach a totem pole and an obvious path to the left. This is now part of both the Red Glen Trail and Yellow Blairenbathie Mine Trail and follows the line of a mineral railway. On reaching the forest track at the end of this path turn left. There are waymarkers for a short diversion (right) to a viewpoint. This viewpoint is at the site of the old 100 foot railway bridge that crossed over the Glen. Once back on the forest track, continue westwards to reach a red waymarker. Turn right at this waymarker going downhill into the trees. This is the start of the Glen Trail. The path swings round to the right to reach the Kelty Burn and winds its way through the Glen crossing the burn a few times.
At the end of the Glen path turn left onto another forest track and start to go uphill. However, keep left at the next yellow waymarker leaving the track and uphill climb. Follow the yellow markers along the Blairenbathie Mine Trail, past the mine workings and through deciduous forest. At the end of this trail turn left on to a track and cross a burn at the Pieries Burn Bridge followed by the Lochornie Burn Bridge. It is now a short walk back to the main forest track, keeping to the path and ignoring the red waymarker for The Glen.
Once on the track, go left and follow it back to the mine railway and hence the car park.
Route 2 – Blairadam Park and Forest
This short circular route aims to explore the quieter parts of the forest along with the contrasting open parkland of the Blairadam Estate. It is shown in blue on the route map above.
- Distance: 4 miles / 6.5 km
- Ascent: 490 feet / 150 m
- Terrain: Forest paths and tracks plus mountain bike trails – can be muddy in places
Leave the lower car park heading north downhill into the forest. Pass the totem pole and brickwork with inscriptions (these may refer to big cat sightings that have occured in the area). At the bottom of the hill go through the green gate and leave the main track on a rough path. There are a couple of wooden footbridges on this section. On meeting a forest road turn left, following it round to the right past a house. This track now leads to Blairadam House (a private residence) but keep right at the junction with the private road sign to walk through open fields. There is a walled garden to the right although it is locked and there is no public access. Turn left towards the obvious house to reach the end of the track in a field. From here follow a wall/fence to the edge of the forest where there is a stile.
A rough path connects the stile with the forest track network at a signpost. Go left on to the track which passing through deciduous beech trees as well as the usual conifers. This section can be muddy at times but a new gravel surface is soon reached. Turn left when a track junction is reached, onto a rougher track, initially in an easterly direction. The track bears right and is soon heading south and then west. Approximately 500m beyond the junction a mountain bike trail crosses the track. There are now a couple of options. The first option is shown on the route map in blue. The two alternative options are shown in dark blue.
- Go left on to the MTB which is somewhat rough and muddy in parts. If uncertain of the route follow the tyre marks and footprints. A ditch to the left, and an old wall that needs to be crossed are useful landmarks. After the wall keep straight on (not left along the wall) to cross a more open area (shown as The Rirum on some maps). After crossing this area the trail rejoins the forest track network. Turn left on to the track to go downhill.
- Keep to the forest tracks for the next 2km, turning left at the next two junctions. After about 2km the track goes downhill and reaches a yellow waymarker which should be ignored.
- Leave the track after a further 100m (600m beyond the junction) into a firebreak on the left. After less than 100m at the end of the fire break turn left on to the forest track heading downhill. Ignore a yellow waymarker that points to the right.
Keep to the main track going downhill with views to the left over to Blairadam House. After a crag on the left, turn right at a red waymarker on to a surfaced path. This is part of the The Glen Trail which winds its way alongside the Kelty Burn. Part way along are the remains of the 100 foot bridge that used to carry the mine railway over the Glen. At the end of the Glen the path turns left and goes uphill. Keep left at the junctions to reach the main forest track that runs through the forest. Turn left on to the track for a straightforward walk back to the car park.
A short detour to the site of the 100 foot bridge overlooking the Glen is possible by following the red / yellow waymarker on the left. Return to the track and bear right at an old mining area on to the route of the railway line. Follow this to the totem pole at its end from where it is a short walk back up to the car park.
Route 3 – Blairadam North with Cowden Hill
This circular walk explores the northern edge of Blairadam and includes a detour to the highest point in the forest, Cowden Hill. It is shown in magenta on the route map above.
- Distance: 5.5 miles / 9 km
- Ascent: 730 feet / 225m
- Terrain: Mix of forest tracks and paths, along with a section of rough trodden path. Some paths can be muddy after heavy rain.
Leave the lower car park heading north downhill into the forest. Pass the totem pole and brickwork with inscriptions (these may refer to big cat sightings that have occurred in the area). At the bottom of the hill go through the green gate and leave the main track on a rough path. There are a couple of wooden footbridges on this section. On meeting a forest road turn left, following it round to the right past a house. This track now leads to Blairadam House (a private residence) but keep right at the junction with the private road sign to walk through open fields. There is a walled garden to the right although it is locked and there is no public access. Turn left towards the obvious house to reach the end of the track in a field. From here follow a wall/fence to the edge of the forest where there is a stile.
An unsurfaced path connects the stile with the forest track network at a signpost. Go right towards Lochran to reach the termination of the track. At this point the route uses a rougher path through the forest which can be somewhat indistinct. However navigation is straightforward as the forest boundary can easily be followed down the hill. Cross the burn and start to climb back up the other side, again keeping reasonably close to the boundary wall until the path becomes more obvious. The path becomes more of a track as it turns west and crosses felled woodland. Keep straight on, across a newly planted area, on the track. At a T junction turn right towards the communications mast and follow the track round to the left.
When the track starts to get somewhat muddy there is a gate on the right that provides access to the grassy summit of Cowden Hill. At 285m this is the highest point of the forest. Return to the now muddy track and continue westwards until the next junction is reached. Go left at the T junction uphill to reach one of the main forest tracks. Go left for 600m to reach a crossroads where the communications mast is to the left. Turn right at the crossroads downhill for 200m to reach the next junction.
Continue straight on, down the hill, on the main forest track. Go straight on at the next two junctions, still downhill on the main forest track. Soon, a junction with marker posts is reached. Keep right, now on the yellow waymarked route, continuing downhill over a couple of bridges. Ignore the side routes until an obvious T junction is reached. Now go left on this wide track and follow it to the point where the old railway line branches off to the right. Take the railway path which leads back to the totem pole near the car park.