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 General Projects Committee (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, rafts were constructed  and piled 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 2017 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.

Chairperson Report to Annual Meeting 20th May 2013.

The co-operation between all the member groups is the crux of its success and long may this continue.  The recent “Come and Try” day at the loch demonstrates how well the groups organise themselves and work with others.  I would like to thank everyone who participates in this annual event and who help it to run so smoothly each time.  Despite the weather being cool and blustery this year, Come and Try remains as busy and popular as ever.

The water quality in Kinghorn Loch continues to be excellent even when other places suffered problems caused by the very wet summer of 2012.  Justyna Olszewska, PhD student from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, NERC, Edinburgh, is continuing her study on the recovery and ecology of the loch.  The results of this will prove useful for our understanding and future conservation of the loch.  In recent years the floating blue-green algal growth has been extremely low and not problematic but we continue to monitor the situation.  The barley straw treatment is now done annually in early spring, and this appears to be sufficient to eradicate algal problems.  Our thanks go to Mrs Jean Cochran, owner of Banchory Farm, for her continued donation of barley straw bales which has saved us a considerable amount of money over time.

In September 2012 the East of Scotland Open Water Swimmer’s Association held their annual swimming event at Kinghorn Loch, for the first time, which proved such a success they are continuing swim sessions here this summer, and holding their 2013 annual swim event in June.  They liaise with the Canoe Club to link for times on the water to give safety cover.  It is good to see the loch being used so well.  

The wildlife remains in good health with broods of ducklings, coots and goslings on the loch.  The bird watching fraternity provide us with regular bird surveys to build up an intimate and detailed seasonal knowledge of birds that inhabit the loch.  Danny has made his own bird nesting baskets to encourage even more variety and activity around the bird hide.  Everyone remains vigilant to look out for migrant mink encroaching on the water but nothing has been reported this year. Unfortunately, the goose population continues to grow in number and this is not desirable, we should encourage visitors not to feed them.  Our efforts to encourage the swans, with the construction of a nesting platform using recycled materials, were unsuccessful.  The Trust’s Summer BBQ will hopefully generate some funding for a new swan nesting platform to be built in the shallow at the head of the loch.  Sadly, Ash Dieback is evident in the area and we can only wait and hope that our woods do not become too badly affected.  We all need to abide by the guidance given by the Forestry Commission to try to prevent the spread of the disease further.

There are always ongoing jobs to be done and continuous high rainfall has made it impossible to tackle some improvements over this year.  We have been unable to re surface the slipway in the bay, or tackle the bank erosion at the far end of the jetty.  The repair to the jetty, using stainless steel screws, has been successful and well worth the effort.  Many volunteers help us throughout the year, to complete our ongoing jobs, and without them everything would not be achievable.

Report from Ron Edwards, Chairperson Annual Meeting 28th April  2014.

There continues to be healthy usage of the loch by a variety of clubs including canoeing, sailing, open water swimming, bird watching, fishing and walking groups.  The improvement to the Burnside Path by the Trust’s Kinghorn Pathways group has given clean, easy access to the lochside from Kinghorn without getting wet and muddy feet and many local folk have expressed their appreciation for the work.  Annual events are held on the loch such as the canoe regattas and the open water swim event. Also the “Come and Try Day” held each May for people to enjoy a try of water sports remains popular and now includes bird watching at the hide.

The water quality remains excellent with just one input of barley straw each spring.  We now use only five bales which is considerably less than when KLUG started and it seems to do the job well.  We continue to receive the donation of barley straw from Banchory Farm and this has saved a considerable cost over time.  One raft remains damaged and will need replacing this year.  The weed growth in the loch is very healthy but can become a problem to users by the midsummer period.  The group is looking at the cost of hiring or purchasing a boat-mounted cutter to trim back the weed growth when necessary but this will be an expensive venture.

In December 2013 CRCT volunteers made repairs to the dinghy slipway at the end of the jetty.  CRCT supplied Type 1 to level the gradient so that the sailing boats could launch smoothly.  The work carried out has proven most successful and appreciated by the Sailing Club.

The number and variety of birds which inhabit the loch is extremely healthy.  We are kept informed by the regular bird surveys conducted by the bird watching group. Results are reported on the CRCT website.  This year the resident swan couple has built a well compacted nest on one of the rafts and we hope that cygnets will soon appear.  Plans to build a swan nesting platform with Trust funds last year was postponed when it was suggested that the large number of geese at the loch would adopt the platform instead. However, the two dominant geese have died and the male swan is able to keep the remaining geese away from the nest. Because of the problem with geese, it was decided to invest the funds in a wildlife camera to observe and discover wildlife behaviour at the loch.  Sadly, despite the camera being secured in place, it was stolen.  However, before this happened, it was able to assist in confirming an otter on the loch, which sadly was later killed on the road.  There is much to be investigated at Kinghorn Loch, and we will look forward to finding a new way of observing the wildlife.

Report by Ron Edwards, Chairperson, for the Annual Meeting, 18th April 2016.

The purpose of the Chairman’s report is to highlight all the progress and improvements that have been accomplished during the year, any issues and thoughts for the future.  The various sports and leisure activities are thriving and the number of visitors to Kinghorn Loch continues to grow with each passing year.  Our success is the proof of all the hard work that a lot of people put in over many years and especially the last three. I would like to greatly thank everyone who has volunteered their help to make the latest Trust project “Provision of visitor facilities at Kinghorn Loch and its environs” possible and such a success.  A huge amount has been achieved.

The latest project concentrated on improvements around the lochside area.  Renewing the barley straw rafts in February and piling on the barley straw before any nesting of birds took place was very much a joint effort from all the groups, and the swans, geese and coots have taken great advantage with their nesting.  We are now into the completion of the last parts of the project, with the jetty extension underway and nesting platforms ready for placement at the head of the loch later in the summer, when the birds have brought up their young.  The new car park is already proving a big bonus to the clubs holding events, and will be a great asset for the annual “Come and Try” day at the loch in May.  The information shed, with board space for all groups to put up posters, to advertise particular events, and pocket holders for information is ready. The new pathway named “Woodland Rise” is a big success, with lots of positive feedback and with the addition of signage and information boards it makes an enjoyable walk.  A beneficiary that seems to particularly like the path is the joggers who now have some lovely circular runs without obstacles, and it is much appreciated.

The water quality of the loch remains excellent and just one loading of barley straw onto four rafts suffices each year.  Once again we thank Jean Cochran for donating the straw.  Justyna Olszewska has finished her study on Kinghorn Loch and Bryan Spears, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, has recently been in touch to say that he hopes a new study will be funded to investigate the long term problems of vanadium and the study will include Kinghorn Loch.

The kingfishers were seen at the loch earlier this year but have not made many appearances since, so no repeat of last years bonanza sightings.  Ian McKenzie has taken over from Danny as the contact for bird activity on the loch.  A new bird booklet is being collated by Rena Wallace and it will pocket size and available soon.  It will go out at the CRCT Information Board at the lochside and at the new cafe.  It will be good to have an update of this informative little booklet.  The “History of Craigencalt” booklet will also be printed as part of the present project and will be available at the cafe and other venues.

Kirkcaldy Canoe Club is the longest established group at the loch, with more than thirty-five 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 a weekly session on the loch each Saturday and will be hosting a championship event in June.  The open water swimmers continue to meet at the loch (from May to September) along with the Canoe Club on Tuesdays.  The Scottish Carp Group has put in a new path down to the area where they fish.  Some large carp were caught and photographed last year.  There are also greatly improved facilities for visitors and sports people, with Craigencalt Farm installing new toilets, and the opening of “The Barn at the Loch” cafe.  Altogether things are looking very healthy.  The combination of the water, the ducks, wonderful walks and the countryside, with a drop off at the cafe is attracting more and more people, particularly young families and it is great to see.

The Walking Group meets all year round on the first Wednesday of each month, with an additional mid month walk from April to September. Kath and Pat organise the monthly walks and have developed a regular group of walkers.  Marilyn organises the mid month schedule, which has a walk to Glassmount House Gardens in May.   The second Walking Festival held last September, was even more successful than the previous year.   Good weather again played a part in making it so enjoyable with over a hundred participants and over 225 footfall on walks during the festival. The third Walking Festival will go ahead from 3 – 11 September 2016.  The bridge at the sluice has recently been covered with rubber matting by Fife Council which it is hoped will prove durable.  This will allow horses to pass over the bridge.  After approaching Alison Irvine, Fife Access Officer, she agreed to fund this.

Lovell, the house builder, has put in a planning application for housing at the old Tannery site; they were required to do a survey on great crested newts before the application could be considered, but hopefully this derelict site will be improved soon.   We will continue to work with developers if and when appropriate.

The area covered by the Trust, from the loch through Craigencalt woodland and right up to the old Binnend village, has been greatly improved by all our volunteers over a few years with great help from Alcan and funders and now with increased numbers of visitors, there is a buzz in the air.  A big thanks once again for all your support.  

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.