Area focus: Kirkcaldy

Kirkcaldy Walking Festival returns this weekend with a programme packed with walks suited to all abilities, led by organisations from in and around this beautiful corner of Fife.

A broad overview of Kirkcaldy’s building stock, from the 15th-Century Ravenscraig Castle in the foreground, to mid-20th-Century high-rises and beyond

Running until Sunday, 8 August, the festival includes a series of free gentle and challenging routes, and themes such as wildlife, heritage, health and family fun.

Some 11 miles north of Edinburgh and 27 miles south of Dundee, the “Lang Toun” is ideally positioned for such rural and coastal wanders.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 117-mile long Fife Coastal Path passes through the outskirts of the town, providing dramatic seaside views and an abundance of wildlife.

One of Scotland’s ancient burghs, Kirkcaldy – derived from the Pictish meaning for “hard fort” – has a long history, with the settlement’s roots having been traced as far back as 2500 BC.

The Battle of Raith in the year 569, when the Angles fought the Scots, Picts and Britons, reputedly took place to the west of Kirkcaldy, making it potentially one of the town’s earliest-known events.

Later, at the end of the first millennium, monks from Dunfermline Abbey received the land around the town from King Malcolm II, and the subsequent centuries saw the construction of a parish church, Ravenscraig Castle in the 15th Century, and a harbour.

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century helped the harbour town boom, largely thanks to the invention of linoleum. Indeed, Kirkcaldy was the world’s largest producer of the resilient floor covering by 1877.

Production prospered until the 1960s, when new housing developments were created in the north-west of the town despite a fall in population following the lino industry’s decline.

Today, Kirkcaldy is the second-largest Fife community with a population of more than 59,700.

Twinned with the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt and home to Raith Rovers FC, it has become popular among property buyers seeking a residence with access to the countryside, beaches and busier urban locales, such as Edinburgh.

A property in Kirkcaldy has an average market value of £162,967, according to Zoopla, up 11.16 per cent in the last year, and ahead by 22.7 per cent in the last five years. In the last decade, the portal shows there has been a value change of 44 per cent overall.

One highly sought-after address is Boglily Road, which runs alongside the north side of Beveridge Park, and to the south of Raith Lake.

It features many palatial Victorian and Edwardian detached villas, surrounded by extensive gardens.

With around up to five bedrooms, a property on this street has a higher average value of £514,164.

On the north-east of the park is Southerton Road leading to Southerton Crescent, which have spacious detached houses highlighted by red pantile roofs – a prominent feature on Fife’s coast.

In the north-east, Loughborough Road has individually-designed detached and semi-detached large stone villas. With an average value of £270,758, this is a more affordable option than Boglily Road, although it retains the same sense of grandeur, and the nearby Milton Road is just as affluent.

South of the town lies East and West Vows Walks, a modern development of large detached and semi-detached family homes.

For new housing projects, keep an eye on Barratt Homes’ Kingslaw Gait and Persimmon’s Roslyn Gait developments near West Wemyss.

As well as their size, what is most impressive about these dwellings are the spectacular panoramic views across the Forth and beyond.

There are a number of primary and pre-schools throughout the town and secondary schools include Kirkcaldy High, Balwearie and St Andrew’s RC.

There are also ample amenities with supermarkets by Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Aldi.

Kirkcaldy is less than an hour’s drive to the picturesque East Neuk of Fife, which could provide a scenic day out with friends or family, with access to vast sandy beaches.

Average market value of properties (Source: Zoopla)

Detached house £272,691

Semi-detached £172,060

Terraced £132,908

Flat £110,468

Leisure

Beveridge Park is a 42-hectare green space with formal gardens, play areas, a boating pond, maintained woodland walks and plenty of wildlife.

The park opened in 1892 and was gifted to the people of the Lang Toun by then Provost Michael Beveridge.

Popular features are the rugby and football pitches, and the food and drink outlets.

Fife Ice Arena on Rosslyn Street is home to the UK’s oldest ice hockey team.

The ice rink is open to the public for skating and curling from 8am to 11pm daily, although due to Covid-19 restrictions hours are currently reduced.

Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre on the Esplanade has a 25-metre swimming pool, gym, fitness studio and sports hall. It is open Monday to Friday between 6.30am and 10pm, and weekends between 8am and 5pm. Activities must be booked in advance on 01592 583 306.

Culture

Kirkcaldy Galleries is a magnificent building, pictured, on War Memorial Gardens and houses a museum, library and art gallery. The museum tells the story of Kirkcaldy from as far back as 300 million years ago to the present day, while the gallery has the largest collection of work by landscape painter William McTaggart and Scottish Colourist Samuel Peploe. There is a car park and the venue is situated just a ten-minute walk from the town centre. It is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 10am to 6pm on Thursdays; 10am to 3pm on Saturdays; 12pm to 3pm on Sundays.

Ravenscraig Castle on the eastern outskirts of Kirkcaldy was built for Queen Mary of Gueldres in 1460 and later turned into a defensive fort by the Sinclair family. The ruins of the castle are maintained by Historic Environment Scotland and the exterior can be viewed between April and September, daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance must be adhered to.

Adam Smith Theatre on Bennochy Road is an impressive 475-seat venue which hosts visiting comedy, dance, drama and music shows. Named after the town’s most famous son, regular classes and workshops are also held here, and when live events are not taking place, the venue becomes a cinema. There is a café which feeds all profits back to ONFife, which oversees the attraction. To find upcoming events, visit www.onfife.com