Heading from the picturesque village of Culross, this section of the Fife Pilgrim Way offers many opportunities to enjoy historic pilgrimage sites, nature’s delights and stunning views over the Firth of Forth. The start of this long-distance walking route can be found in Culross Play Park which is next to West Car Park. Culross is Scotland’s most complete example of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries and is worth exploring. Much of Culross is under the guardianship of the National Trust for Scotland and you’ll find locations used in the filming of ‘Outlander’.
The Culross to Dunfermline path follows the shore, with views across the Forth and Torry Bay Local Nature Reserve. From Torryburn the path follows an attractive hedge-lined old road, before heading inland. The route takes in a variety of habitats, including woodland and farmland. As walkers head east look out for a first glimpse of Dunfermline Abbey. Once in Scotland’s newest city of Dunfermline, the route winds through beautiful Pittencrieff Park with its parkland, wooded glen, formal gardens, café and resident peacocks. North Queensferry is an alternative starting point for the Fife Pilgrim Way. Visit our North Queensferry to Dunfermline section to find out more.
Before you set out why not read the Story of Fife Pilgrim Kingdom to find out more about Culross’s colourful heritage of Christianity and coal. Visit our online shop to purchase a Fife Pilgrim Way Map or Guide Book.
‘Item, offerit [by James IV] to Sanct Serfis fertur, 14 shillings.’ (Historical account, dated 5 October 1511, of King James IV’s visit to St Serf’s shrine)
Culross was one of the starting points for pilgrims journeying across Fife to St Andrews. It was also a pilgrim destination due to its links with two local deities, Saints Serf and Kentigern (later St Mungo of Glasgow).
According to legend, Saint Serf moved to Culross having slain a dragon that was terrorising the residents of Strathearn. Meanwhile, Saint Kentigern was born here after his pregnant mother was washed ashore at Culross having narrowly escaped being murdered by her father.
Culross Abbey and St Mungo’s Chapel were popular stop off points for both lowly and lordly pilgrims. In fact, King James IV was recorded as leaving an offering at St Serf’s remains in Culross in 1511. Both sites can be visited today.
Ochre-painted Culross Palace is in the heart of the village and steep cobbles lead to Culross Abbey. Either choose to visit the Abbey or continue along the path which follows the route of the Fife Coastal Path at this section. To find out more about Culross Abbey visit Historic Environment Scotland.
‘There was a poor little woman, English by birth and race … who was afflicted for a long time with a very serious ailment … she fell headlong to the ground before the holy altar like a lifeless stone … But soon sadness was turned to joy, the health of her limbs restored to her.’ (Excerpt from the Miracula S. Margarite Scotorum regine [Miracles of St Margaret] 1245-63)
For hundreds of years Dunfermline has provided countless pilgrims with an inspiring destination. Magnificent Dunfermline Abbey is the burial place of many of Scotland’s kings and queens, including King Robert the Bruce and Queen Margaret, who was later made a saint.
Many miracles are recorded as having taken place close to St Margaret’s shrine, and a number of Scottish queens wore her shirt for protection during childbirth. Medieval pilgrims who visited the abbey on her feast day of 16 November were promised a smoother journey to heaven. This made the arduous journey of pilgrimage worthwhile.
Several other local sites associated with pilgrimage and Saint Margaret may still be visited today, including the Head Well, Saint Margaret’s Stone and St Margaret’s Cave, where the Queen is said to have rested and prayed respectively.