Royal Burgh of Kinghorn - for residents and visitors alike

The environment of Kinghorn was formed by the great ice sheets of the last Ice Age scouring the hard basalt layers and interbedded softer rocks into a deep fjord of the Firth of Forth and abrupt hilltops.  The loch, a “kettlehole”, formed by a trapped lump of ice melting beneath the land surface.  Now, people and wildlife can enjoy the resulting landform.

Topography of the coastal area.

The striking feature of the landscape are 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.  

Topography of the inland area.

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.

Wildlife of Pettycur Bay, the loch and surrounding areas.

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 - primarily the oyster catchers and curlew - come inland onto the fields.  During winter shag and cormorant fish on the loch.  The loch carries a long list of resident and visiting birds and the Ecology Centre website should be consulted.

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, bright and alert but unable to fly.  Eventually it was taken to the Scottish Wildlife Centre at Middlebank, Inverkeithing, where it joins a number of other young Tawny Owls who have simply proved to be far too adventurous for their young bodies.

If you visit there you can see the seal rescue tanks, particularly storm-driven youngsters and all the sea-bird rescues.

Help with donations to SSPCA.

For rescues phone 03000 999 999

Wildlife Rescue - SSPCA, Middlebank, Inverkeithing

Young Tawny Owl in danger

Recovery of Kinghorn Loch.

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 an bio-accumulation of heavy metals.  Despite the very hot summer of 1987 no accumulation was found and no heavy metals (primarily arsenic) were released into the ecosystem from the sediments.  The trout grew very well but could not breed as there are no suitable spawning streams.

For a description of the history of the loch and its successful recovery refer to the attached document, which is an abridged  summary text from Ron Edwards’ Doctorate thesis from 1985 (Edinburgh University PhD Thesis, December 1985).


Developing Situation, hydrology and geology

Description of the loch and developing situation.

The Environment of Kinghorn - topography, geology, ecology - wildlife and plants of interest.