The Gartmorn Circular -
A scenic route around Gartmorn Dam.

   
GRADE Easy Recreational
   
UPDATED February 2002

 

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This route 15 km / 9 mile route is one of my favourites, given the right weather and company the run through the woods, along the lade and around the loch can be most gratifying.

The route starts off from the car part at the Fife end of the West Fife Cycle Way, and follows a country road which leads on to the path along the lade for Gartmorn Dam, continuing around the Dam to connect with the Clackmannan end of the cycle way to return the starting point. This wee run can be done in either of two ways; going anti-clockwise means that you miss the climb at the start of the clockwise route, though the trade off is that the route seems to be that bit harder and more uphill than downhill. My own preference is to do it clockwise.

I chose the car park near to Slack Cottage on the end of the West Fife Cycle Way or beginning of the Clackmannan Way as the starting point, though you could equally start at Gartmorn Dam.

From the car park, turn right and follow the narrow country road keeping a good look out for cars, you do not get much forewarning. The road passes by an old mill on the right and Brucefield House on the left. Shortly after Brucefield is a short sharp climb and with that over continue along the road eventually passing under a set of power lines to arrive at a T-junction. Turn left to follow the road down hill into Forestmill. At theT-junction with the A977, turn right taking extreme care at this junction as the traffic does not give much quarter. The Longanlea Restaurant is beside the T-junction and seems to be popular with cyclists.

After crossing the A977, turn left before the farm, the old double arch bridge can still be seen over the lade to the right. The farm house has an inscription on the door lintel proclaiming that the house was erected by the 12th. Earl of Mar and the 14th. Earl of Kellie... never knew the aristocracy could be so good at bricklaying!

The lade (which is a Scots name for a millrace) was constructed to channel water into the Gartmorn Dam which was built to supply the Alloa mills with water. With the demise of the mills the dam has now become a nature reserve and country park.

Follow the path along the lade as it heads for Gartmorn, the Black Devon River to the left will keep you company as you go downstream. The quality of the path varies between firm to muddy, to bumpy and grassy, though by no means impassible. There are two points along the lade where sluices have been constructed to allow water to enter the Black Devon rather than the dam, watch out for the path at the first sluice gate as there is a steep drop off just before, nothing on a mountain bike but it could be serious on a tourer.

Eventually the path will squeeze itself between a conifer forest and the lade, the path can be muddy and precipitous at this point. The path ends at a gate, which can be negotiated by following a short cut to the left and going through the fence. The final section of the path leading to the dam is grassy and muddy, turn right and cross the lade by the narrow bridge, following the path uphill towards the white farm house.

Go through the archway, alongside the house and continue straight on to the top of the hill, good views of the dam can be had from here. As you go down hill, look out for a path on the left, turn left, going through the gate to follow the path along the waters edge – watch out for walkers and wildlife.

The path eventually leads onto the car park at the head of the dam, continue straight on to a farm track, following the overhead power line to the top of the hill and the crossroads thereafter. Turn left onto the metaled road, continue straight down the hill, crossing over the bridge and around the gate.

Follow the footpath beyond the gate onto a farm road as it leads down to a white cottage then to the right in front of the cottage and right again at a junction with another farm road. Shortly afterwards you will pass through a cutting left when the old railway bridge was removed and turn left onto the old road as it runs alongside the railway line, going through two gates, the road at this point is dumping ground for a while range of articles from cars to garden sheds.

Shortly before the T-junction with the B910, turn left and go up the embankment of the railway, through the gate onto the Clackmannan Way.

The Way crosses over the Black Devon by a viaduct, on the middle of the bridge there is some kind of artwork on the ground. Shortly after the bridge is the old brickworks, the chimney and kilns can still be seen, though there is no access to the brickworks. A clay pigeon shooting club shoots here from time to time.

Shortly afterwards on the left is Castlebridge colliery, the last deep mine in Scotland and part of the huge Longannet Complex, supplying coal to the Longannet Power Station near Kincardine. The railway line continues passing very close to a house by the railwayline back to the starting point near Slack Cottage.

Wallace Shackleton (February 2002)

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