Walk of the week: Culross Abbey and West Kirk, Fife

Walk Culross abbey and West Kirk, Fife. Picture: Nick Drainey

Walk Culross abbey and West Kirk, Fife. Picture: Nick Drainey

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CULROSS is one of the prettiest little towns in Scotland and remains pretty much how it would have looked in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The buildings themselves are interesting enough to warrant a visit – especially the palace and abbey.

However, there is also something special about the paths behind the town, which take you up to views across the Firth of Forth. A series of small tracks, bounded by fields, feel like byways of former times where it would not be that surprising to be passed by a horse carrying bundles from market.

At the top of the town the abbey stands proud and is passed just before the more bucolic paths are reached. This is definitely worth a look round before continuing. Further along, away in the fields, you reach West Kirk – once the parish church but now in ruins with a graveyard, again worth a stop.

After this take time simply to enjoy the pastoral surroundings, working up the justification for tea and cake at a café near the start.

DISTANCE 2.5 miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED 200ft.

TIME 1 to 2 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 65.

PARK There is a car park at the west end of Culross, by the B9037.

IN SUMMARY Turn right, on to the road you drove in on and walk to the centre of Culross. Follow a brown sign for the abbey, left, up Back Causeway.At the top of the hill the abbey is on the right, a little further on go left, and on reaching a national speed limit sign go left again, through a small gap in a wall.

Follow the southern edge of a field to a metal gate and then a road, which you cross before following a farm track on the other side. The track becomes overgrown with grass, then, at a junction of paths, you can go left to cut the walk short and return to Culross. But it is better to go right and follow a path uphill. On reaching another farm track go left to walk past the ruins of West Kirk, the pre-Reformation parish church of Culross.

About 200 yards further on you reach a junction of tracks. Go straight on from here for about 50 yards and turn left, down a grass path. This eventually turns into a track and drops all the way down to a road. Cross this and go through a wooden gate which leads to a path next to a railway line. Go left to walk the last few hundred yards back to the car park.

REFRESH The National Trust for Scotland’s Bessie Bar Tearoom, next to the palace, is good. Or, try the nearby Biscuit Café, with a gallery and pottery attached. There is also a tea room next to the abbey.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The palace and gardens (www.nts.org.uk) are pleasant and passed near the start. Culross Abbey (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk), with the remains of a Cistercian monastery founded in 1217, is passed on the walk and is worth exploring. Entrance is free and it is open all year.

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