DEVILLA Forest is a surprisingly peaceful place to escape to. The journey to it takes you past the industrial might of Longannet Power Station and further along the Firth of Forth’s coast is the shipbuilding hub of Rosyth, while across the water lies the huge sprawl of Grangemouth’s refinery.
The coast does have a jewel in the pretty town of Culross and likewise Devilla Forest is a place of beauty, where a more natural setting obliterates the impact of modern commerce.
The forest was planted in the 1950s, but don’t think of rows of sitka spruce; Scots Pine, larch and birch catch the eye, and the rays of low sun at this time of year.
The history of the area goes back much further and information boards tell you about this, including the derivation of the name – it means “Bad Farm”, in reference to the poor state of the land just to the north for agriculture.
One of the main attractions is Scotland’s native red squirrel and a short trail begins on the left of the track just after the car park where there is a chance of seeing the creatures. This is a good route for little, or tired, legs, but the walk described is longer and allows for a fuller exploration of the forest.
There are a number of tracks to follow, but the way described gives a good flavour of everything there is to see.
DISTANCE 4∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 140ft.
TIME 2 to 2∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARK There is a Forestry Commission car park off the A985. It is on the left, two-and-a-half miles east of the Kincardine Bridge.
IN SUMMARY To start, follow a track from the end of the car park, ignoring a path on the left just before an information board. Ignore tracks on the left as you drop down, but then, after rising up for a few hundred yards, do go left at a crossroads.
At the next junction go left to drop down to a crossroads, which you go straight over. Ignore a track on the left and continue under some pylons. The track drops to the reeds on the edge of Moor Loch. Keep left at a junction and follow the track around the north end of the loch.
The track then bears right, away from the reeds and water. Ignore paths on the left, but do go left at all track junctions. Eventually you pass a house nestled in the trees on the left – after this go left at a crossroads.
Immediately after passing back below the pylons, go right on a track which follows the electricity lines for a few hundred yards before turning left. Go over a crossroads and follow the track all the way to a junction passed near the start. Go right here to return to the car park.
REFRESH There is nothing at the start of the walk; try the Red Lion in Culross.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Culross is one of the most picturesque little towns in Scotland, sitting on the north bank of the Firth of Forth. Its abbey, with the remains of a Cistercian monastery founded in 1217, is well worth exploring. Entrance is free. n