All articles, documents and images on the website are the intellectual property of Craigencalt Rural Community Trust and copyright, and permission is required before use for any purpose. Copyright © Ron Edwards 2012.
Craigencalt is first mentioned in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland when, in 1368, King David II granted Sir John Abernethy of Kinghorn lands including Craigynkat. The Boswell’s acquired the land and had Craigencalt for several centuries. In 1444 David De Boswyll of Craigyngate held the lands. However Craigencat Farm was not at Craigencalt, it was near Grange Farm and only moved to the mill at the loch in 1891. The first mention of a mill at Craigencat Mill was in 1583 when John Boswell is noted as holding “the town and lands of Craigencat, Damheid and the mill, mill lands and acres”. This is extremely interesting as this indicates that the Banchory Burn was already diverted to Craigencalt (the Loch Burn) across the hillside from South Glassmount, which was no mean feat, and that the original mill pond existed in the field that took its name -
Kinghorn Loch or Kirncat Loch was never part of this estate, it was part of Whinnyhall estate to the west, which stretched from the flank of The Binn hill to the east shore of Kinghorn Loch. For centuries, until the discovery of oil shale beneath Whinnyhall in 1878, the estate primarily produced timber and, being heavily wooded, was described as being a “pleasure of hunting” in the Statistical Account of Scotland (Volume X; Fife) in 1791.
Craigencalt either comes from Craigencat, the rock of the wildcat or the rock of the madman, or Kirncat, the gorge of the wildcat.
For a fascinating read on the history of Craigencalt please refer to the CRCT booklet on “History of Craigencalt”. The research for this publication covered a much wider area of countryside than just Craigencalt and a database is available for researchers.
The striking feature of the landscape is the remnants of volcanic vents and lava flows some 300 million years old. These form the nearby hill of The Binn (at 191 metres), the rounded peaks of the Lomond Hills to the north, the island of Inchkeith and of course the rock of Edinburgh Castle, Salisbury Crags and Arthurs Seat to the south. The Coastal Path looks out on numerous islets, rock pools and small beaches, formed from the interlayered basalt and softer Carboniferous age sandstones and shales. Fossils are plentiful, mainly ferns and other plants. The shales once served a prosperous oil shale industry and the remnants of the factory and Binnend village still exist.
Inland the basalt forms ridges (from The Binn to north of Kinghorn Loch) and the land is hummocky and occasionally rocky. The ridges and cliffs between The Binn and Kinghorn Loch forms a Wildlife Conservation Area and its extent is shown in the attached Fife Council map. We are working to set up the environs of the loch as a Local Nature Reserve and the remaining 3 km wildlife corridor as a managed reserve. For more information see the Craigencalt Rural Community Trust (CRCT) website.
Pettycur Bay is a Site and Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and within a RAMSAR site, of very special quality. This is a recognition of the wading birds that live here. Towards high tide and with bad weather wading birds -
The Gallery shows a large number of wildflowers from the area.
This young owl sat on the wall at Craigencalt for a day or more in June 2012, bright and alert but unable to fly. Eventually it was taken to the Scottish Wildlife Centre at Middlebank, where it joins a number of other young Tawny Owls who have simply proved to be far too adventurous for their young bodies.
The SSPCA National Wildlife Centre is now situated in Clackmannan and if you visit there you can see the seal rescue tanks, particularly storm-
From the 1950’s to 1983, Kinghorn Loch suffered from leachate entering from the Alcan tip at Whinnyhall (now remediated). By 1983 the loch was very alkaline (from the caustic leachate) and there were no fish or significant plants. Algal blooms abounded. After 1985 rare species emerged (such as the Water Anemone) but gradually more common water plants invaded. Pike and other fish were introduced by various individuals and the loch is now a good pike fishery and an excellent carp fishery (Scottish Carp Group). Roach, perch, minnows and stickleback are present and plentiful toads and frogs visit the loch to breed.
In 1985, brown trout were introduced and monitored for bio-
Nitrate, which is a nutrient in water, remained high but originates from the burn entering the loch -
For a fuller description of the history of the loch and its successful recovery, please contact CRCT for an abridged summary text from Ron Edwards’ Doctorate thesis from 1985 (Edinburgh University PhD Thesis, December 1985).
With serious water pollution incidents occurring in Rumania and China, interest in the fate of arsenic in water has increased and in 2011, a new PhD study started to look at the fate of arsenic in Kinghorn Loch under the auspices of the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, which completed in 2016. CEH has now commenced a further study on the fate of vanadium. This follows on from the detection of elevated vanadium in lakes in China and, as data on vanadium toxicity is sparse, it is now important to clarify the fate in water. Alcan has hosted two international conferences at Burntisland/Kinghorn Loch on the remediation of the factory and landfill site and CRCT has presented at these. Contact CEH for publications.