Ravenscraig Park - the jewel in Kirkcaldy's crown

Lockdown has given us a chance to explore what's on our doorstep

By Allan Crow
Friday, 31st July 2020, 12:30 pm
Ravenscraig Park, Kirkcaldy
Ravenscraig Park, Kirkcaldy

There’s something special about Ravenscraig Park. Of all Kirkcaldy’s public parks, it has a beauty and tranquility which never diminishes.

And then, there’s its setting; just wonderful.

Where else can you follow winding woodland park paths and find yourself close enough to hear the waves break on the rocks on the other side of the sturdy boundary walls built centuries ago?

Stanes - part of the art trail at Ravenscraig Park in Kirkcaldy

And where else would drop gems of art and architecture into the landscape, and leave you to discover them?

And then wrap everything around a centuries old castle which you can wander through at your leisure?

For me, Ravenscraig is, Kirkcaldy’s under-stated gem.

We take it for granted because, well, it’s there. We don’t put anything on pedestals in Fife – if something is “fine” then that’s high praise indeed. Ravenscraig is more than fine.

Looking up to Ravenscraig Park from the beach

On holiday a week ago, I took off on a wander around town and ended up at the park where, instead of heading to the waterfront, I went along its top path.

The picnic area is pretty barren – benches on a concrete surface offer a functional, rather than pleasant, eating area – and the old bowling green is a sorry old sight.

The clubhouse, like so many buildings, is shuttered, while the surrounds are unkempt. Wouldn’t it make a wonderful tea room come cafe? A place to relax and watch the world go by with views right across the Forth?

The days of tennis courts and a pitch and putt are, sadly, consigned to the history books, underlining the potential of the park; potential that we, as a community, perhaps have to unlock as we emerge into a more localised future?

The grasslands and manicured pathways sit comfortably side by side and lead you into the woodlands which weave right round to the steps leading to Dysart.

It’s a fabulous meander round the gnarled branches, the semi-circles where branches lie on the ground, and also provide natural alcoves.

And the trail is enhanced by the chainsaw wood carvings and artwork - inscriptions all too easy to miss as you wander.

It is, however, hard to overlook Stanes, the substantial piece which features Duncan Glen’s poem of the same name.

It overlooks the Forth, and sits just before that fabulous outlook tower with its narrow slit which gives a very different view across the water.

And it’s down there that the paths lead to the nooks and crannies which abound.

Holes in the outwith wall have made the beach alcoves accessible; places to unwind completely and watch the tide drift past. Some accesses are easier than others, but the more you explore, the more you find ways down.

The official path, meanwhile opens up to the greenest waterfront imaginable, and on to Dysart Harbour via a tunnel with just about enough head height for most people!

People have been walking this route for several centuries - the park was one of many built in the Victorian era to help improve the living conditions for workers in what was then a highly industrialised town.

Their footprints remain embedded in the landscape to this day …

What were your favourite walks during lockdown? Email us at [email protected]

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

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Allan Crow, Editor, Fife Free Press