The Charlestown Recreational Route

A circular tour of Charlestown and Limekilns

DISTANCE 19 km / 12 mile
GRADE Easy Road & Track Ride
UPDATED November 2001



Dunfermline to Charlestown-Limekilns route 12 mile / 19 km is one of three routes off the West Fife Cycle Way. Most of this route is very enjoyable, especially in the Charlestown area, unfortunately this route has a premature ending at Rosyth, leaving you with a three mile cycle along an unpleasant road back to Dunfermline.

The starting point for this route is the beginning of the West Fife Cycle way (WFC), in Dunfermline. This 13 mile route was created from the ashes of the disused Dunfermline to Alloa railway line, and forms with the Clackmannan extension part of the National Cycle Route to Stirling. Leaving Dunfermline, you travel along the track to turn right shortly after passing under the second bridge, cycle up the embankment to the road, turn right and head to Crossford.
As you enter Crossford, the road narrows at the crest of a hill forming a "choke point", the amount of car debris testifies to the danger here. Turn first left into Kirkwood Crescent and follow the road around to the right, then descend to the traffic lights.
At the lights cross straight over and continue along Wagon Road, sometimes traffic can be unpleasant on this road. At the bottom of Wagon Road there is a facility for riders to safely turn right and cross the busy A985. On the verge to the left is a refuge, entering the refuge will enable you to cross Wagon Road (rather than turning right from the middle of the road), onto the shared use footpath. The footpath runs for a short distance alongside the A985 then crosses the road directly. The usefulness of this facility is offset by a road signpost, which partially obscures your view of the oncoming traffic...nice try.
On the far side of the road, follow the footpath to the Charlestown Road junction, turn left and then immediate left to follow the road around the back of the farm. Cross the redundant railway line, which was built to transport munitions to the nearby naval depot. Climb the bumpy road to the gates of the landfill site then follow the road around to the left to a T-junction. Turn right then follow the road down into Charlestown.
Look out for a set of gates on the left, through which is an orange coloured Experimental Lime Kiln called ELK, is a joint venture between the University of Paisley, Heriot Watt University, the Scottish Lime Centre and other building concerns, it is unfortunately not open to the public. Go straight on at the bottom of the road, the road surfaces changes to cobbles as you go down the hill, (quite a rare sight in Fife) which does not change the fact that they are a pain...
At the bottom of the road, make a small diversion, turn right into Saltpans Road follow this road for a short distance to Charlestown harbour and lime kilns. Great quantities of coal and lime were exported here from this extensive harbour. Retrace your tracks, to the right on the other side of the Forth is Blackness castle which was used as a location for a recent version of Hamlet, back to the junction at the bottom of the hill and turn right.
Continue through Limekilns, turning right at the end of the sea front, and follow the shoreline into Bruce Haven. Just before the harbour breakwater, turn left then right, then at the end of the road turn right following the shore line again, straight ahead of you is the Rosyth Dockyard and the Forth Bridges.
The track is barred by a gate, go around and continue along the shore, the Rosyth Old Parish Church and church yard is just around the point to the left, the churchyard has headstones dating back to the 18th century. A notice here states that cyclists must give way to pedestrians. The path finally moves away from the Forth, climbing as it passes the fields, the final climb is especially hard, at the top, take in the scenery and have a rest while your at it!
The path descends to a farmhouse to meet the A985 again. Cross-straight over, the next turn is not signposted at this point, turn left to Pattiesmuir, follow the road until nearly the end of the village and turn left onto a reasonably surfaced farm track. Continue on this track going straight on at a cross roads heading towards Rosyth. The track emerges at a cross roads with the busy Grange Road. A sign states that this is the end of the cycle route, which will come as a surprise as the route board at the start of the WFC states that this is a circular route. The route board also states that Grange Road is "very busy, please take care on this interim standard route" what that means is that until the road can be closed to through traffic, which seems unlikely, anyone that wishes to use this a circular route has to share this narrow road with seemingly indifferent drivers, cycling on Grange road is not a pleasurable experience - believe me.
There are no more signposts on this route until you return to the start of the WFC another comforting thought. The Charlestown route seems to take the following route: continue all the way along Grange Road to the traffic lights, turn left then enter Pittencrieff Park and make your way northwards (I cannot be more specific) to emerge, a set of gates onto the A994 Road. Cross straight over and continue up Maitland Street, at the top turn right, then left and second left to pick up the urban "blue" route back to the start of the cycle way.