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.  

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Loch users Barley straw rafts to treat algal blooms. Mute swans Youngsters training on the Scout canoes

The jetty

Great Crested Grebe  and young


Youngsters training on the Scout canoes

Frozen loch on the thaw

Dinghy sailing

Barley straw rafts to treat algal blooms.

Mute swans

Background: The Loch Users & Projects Group (projects group) of CRCT incorporates three specific groups that joined the Trust in 2011, being Kinghorn Loch Users Group, Kinghorn Pathways and the Walking Group.  The projects group is an informal gathering of watersports groups and individuals interested in helping the Trust to improve facilities on the loch for the groups, wildlife and the environment (the ‘Loch Users’ interest) and to improve and maintain the pathways and general ecology and environment within the area of interest of the Trust (the ‘Pathways’ interest) as well as a Walking Group that organises walks on a fortnightly (during the summer) or monthly (during winter) basis and has organised three Walking Festivals.

Kinghorn Loch Action Group was formed in 1997 by the community council to provide an umbrella to tackle severe algal blooms on the loch and represent and co-ordinate the groups that use Kinghorn Loch with a view of managing the Loch and the immediate area. It became Kinghorn Loch Users Group (KLUG) in 1998 and was incorporated into CRCT in 2011.

The projects group invites watersports users and others to help fulfil its aims and help resolve any issues that may arise from time to time:

Back in 1999, KLUG designed and built the barley straw rafts and piled them high with barley straw to improve the water quality of the loch.  The general guidance was adapted to build six rafts (Lochframes - designed by the group) each of which holds one large round bail of barley straw, split up into a loose heap on the raft. This task had to be undertaken every six months, with the help of volunteers and the donation of barley straw from J. Cochran Ltd of Banchory Farm.  The outcome was totally successful.  Now, instead of the original six rafts there are now four and loaded annually, with the intention of ensuring that we keep the water in excellent condition.

Loch Users timetable 2019 Dinghy sailing Frozen loch on the thaw Oops! Great Crested Grebe  and young New jetty - completed by KLUG in 2007

Kinghorn Loch suffered from prolonged algal blooms for many years, present from Spring to mid-Winter.  The water was often “Mediterranean blue” and cloudy.  Some blue-green algae was present.  The cause of the nutrient enrichment of the loch, that allowed the blooms to form, goes back to the polluted days before 1983.  Phosphate built up in the sediments, absorbed on hydrated iron oxides when the loch was polluted by Red Mud leachate from alumina extraction from bauxite.  Since 1983, a very small concentration of phosphate lhas continuously eached from the sediment and nutrified the water enough to cause the extensive algal blooms. Rooted water plants could not develop because of lack of sunlight so the algal blooms had no competition for phosphate.  The method has been highly successful with very few blooms ever occurring and all failing within days.  The water is now clear and rooted weed growth is becoming more and more prolific.  With the water plants thriving, phosphate is completely depleted in the water until winter die-off of the rooted plants.

Report by Ron Edwards, Chairperson, for the Annual Meeting 2018.

The purpose of this update is to highlight the progress and improvements that have been accomplished during the year, together with any issues that exist and thoughts for the future.  The various sports and leisure activities are thriving and the number of visitors to Kinghorn Loch continues to grow. The ‘Barn at the Loch’ café, run by Bruce and Sarah Stuart, is proving a big draw for people who are walking in the area or using the loch for water sports.  Our success is proof of all the hard work that a lot of people have put in over many years and the extent of co-operation between everyone.  I would like to greatly thank everyone who has volunteered their help in completing the latest Trust project “Provision of visitor facilities at Kinghorn Loch and its environs” and making it such a success.  Practical matters are progressed through this informal Loch Users and Projects Group of CRCT, involving Friends of CRCT who express an interest in this work and those activities and clubs represented here.  We ask all Friends if they can offer practical, technical or specialist help.  

The water quality of the loch remains excellent and just one loading of barley straw onto the four rafts now suffices to keep algal blooms away.  In the first years of treatment (from 2000), we loaded six rafts twice a year but that intensity is not now needed, as rooted water plants help reduce the nutrient supply that algae need, especially phosphate.  Jean Cochran at Banchory Farm had always donated the straw but since Jean’s passing away, her son Jimmy has ensured that the straw continues to be donated.

The new barley straw rafts have also proved to be a big hit with nesting birds.  This year the female swan has found a new mate and they have built a fine nest on the usual raft.  Last summer, the female successfully reared five healthy cygnets on her own, with assistance from concerned loch users.  The two nesting platforms were completed over the winter, breaking through the ice on each workday.  We are indebted to Web Rigging Services (through Maciej) for donating scaffold materials for the bases.  We look forward to a variety of residents.

The ‘Come and Try’ Day on the 6th May was again a great success with wonderful weather.  We had a record number of youngsters trying out canoeing, the sailing dinghy was kept very busy and so was the new attraction, the Coastal Rowing Group skiff.  On land there were lots of families that took advantage of the weather, walking through the woods, visiting the ‘Earthship’ and taking advantage of the viewing scope to check up on progress with the swan on its nest on the far barley straw raft.  There were also a couple of brand new families of mallard ducks scurrying around to keep children entertained and a great spotted woodpecker close by.  Given the cold and extended winter we have had this year, it looks unlikely that we will have many ducklings to adorn our day this “Come and Try”.

The kingfishers have returned to their usual haunt this winter and the number of visiting bird watchers has rocketed.

The loch was heavily polluted from the 1950s to 1983 and, while I was Chief Chemist with the Forth River Purification Board, I undertook a study to remove the pollution (1980-1986), which has proved completely successful.  The legacy of high arsenic and vanadium in the sediments has been further studied to elucidate the longevity of the pollution.  Having now completed the follow up research on the fate of arsenic in the loch as part of an international review, Bryan Spears, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, held a conference in December as vanadium is becoming an element of concern in the far east particularly with the possibility of vanadium being used in battery technology.  I have been involved in preparing this paper and wish CEH success.

Kirkcaldy Canoe Club is the longest established group at the loch, with more than thirty-six years canoeing at Kinghorn Loch and it continues to thrive well.  The Sailing Club has also been wintering here for a long time.  The Radio Sailing Club now has twice weekly sessions on the loch.  The open water swimmers continue to meet informally at the loch (from May to September) on Tuesdays and there are often up to twelve hardy souls.  We also have had the pleasure of having the Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Group using the loch for training for a second winter.  

The Trust is working with groups, particularly the Scottish Carp Group to assist the welfare of fish and to ensure that all users can safely use the loch at all scheduled times.  The CRCT “Fishing Rules” (based on SCG rules) and a developing “Water based risk assessment” are helping to finalise a safe and healthy regime, and the process has the full support of the owner of the loch, Alcan Aluminium (UK) Ltd.

There were some very interesting presentations during the year with Gerald Lincoln’s talk on ‘Colours of Australia’ and a visit to the Herb Garden.  The highlight for many was a trip out to Inchkeith in November, in co-operation with Kinghorn Historical Society and Burntisland Heritage Trust, and guided by Ron Morris, Conservation Officer for the islands in the Firth of Forth, principally to count the seal pups; over 500 seen.  The second trip was cancelled due to poor weather. This month Ian Archibald gave a presentation on “Island Jewels of the Forth” to a packed audience of more than 50 and it was greatly appreciated.

A programme of moth surveys is underway with Gerald Lincoln covering the whole of the Craigencalt Farm area.  There will be four surveys throughout Spring to Autumn.  The first survey was last week and found sixteen species and over 300 individuals over one night.  Different species and numbers will occur throughout so please come and help.  Details will follow.

The Walking Group meets each month throughout the year, with an additional mid month walk from April to September. Kathleen and Pat organise the monthly walks and have developed a regular group of walkers.  Marilyn organises the mid month schedule.   The mini Walking Festival, held over two weeks in April, 2018, has just finished and was very successful.  The first two walks were in winter conditions but the weather was really nice for the later eight walks.  The story telling walk in particular had 17 children attending and a total of 37 with parents. It is lovely to have such a good feel to the walks.  A big success with largely full participation.  Some routes went through local farms and landowners were very welcoming.

A big thank you to Gordon Reid who has repaired the Swan Bench that was damaged in 2016.  It is now in place and an attraction for lots of children.  We still need to improve the surround.  Hilary organised further Defibrilator training through Alex Macdonald of Burntisland First Aid and most people who wanted training have now been accommodated.  The new Information Board at Woodland Rise Path is in place and looking good.  I am afraid we are pretty backward with Facebook etc, and we need a Friend to volunteer to look after the page!

Lovell is well underway with house building on the old tannery site and it will be good to see the area improved at last.  We will continue to work with developers if and when appropriate to achieve the best and most attractive outcome but the current road closure is proving very difficult for people.

Three new projects are in the planning stage.  Red Path Brae is much used by pedestrians but is really not that safe from traffic.  The Trust is working with Fife Council Access Officers and Craigencalt Farm to put in a by-pass path through the wooden copse.  The second project is to build a new jetty extension at right angles to existing to improve docking for canoes and dinghies in adverse weather.  It is hoped to complete these this year.  The other project is to open up the “Rock Rest” on Bramble Lane to provide a new picnic area.

The area covered by the Trust, from the loch through Craigencalt woodland and right up to the old Binn village, has been greatly improved by all our volunteers over a number of years with great help from Alcan and funders and now with increased numbers of visitors, there is a buzz in the air.  Altogether things are looking very healthy.  The combination of the water, the ducks, wonderful walks and the countryside, and with a drop off at the café, the area is attracting more and more people, particularly young families and it is great to see.  A big thanks once again for all your support.  

Ron Edwards (Chair) 27th April 2018.

In 2007, funding was secured and plans were fulfilled to build a new jetty on the north bank.  This reversed the erosion of the bank and greatly improved the launching area for Kirkcaldy Canoe Club, Kinghorn Sailing Club, the Scouts and visiting water sport users. After many months of work by volunteers, the launching area was completed.  In 2011 it required some repair, securing the planks with more allowance for expansion.  This was necessary because, when the work was originally done, Plaswood planks were a new product and the expansion characteristics not fully understood (black planks expand in heat of sunshine, the bottom of the planks do not!).  Anyway, quite an effort - but successful.

During 2015/2016 CRCT received further funding from Fife Environment Trust and Awards for All Scotland to replace the aging barley straw rafts and to construct two Nesting Platforms especially for the swans, but open to all other water birds.  These nesting platforms also delineate the Wildlife area at the head of the loch where people should not go.  Two Goldeneye nesting boxes are also in place to see if we can encourage nesting.  Erosion next tot he jetty has also been replaced by an extension of the jetty area.  A  number of Interpretation Panels and Information Boards are also provided, together with a mobile defibrillator, situated at the toilets at Craigencalt Farm.  We also invested in a weed cutter for the Dory (boat) to keep blanket weed (a macro-algae) down in the watersports lanes.

CRCT, in conjunction with the canoe and sailing clubs have arranged annual “Come and Try” days to give people of all ages the opportunity to try water sports.