Loch Leven Heritage Trail – a guide for following this route in 2023

Loch Leven heritage trail sign

Many people visit Loch Leven without much of a plan or a route in mind to follow, and that is of course absolutely fine and a great way to experience this lovely area of Scotland. However, if you're looking for a trail to follow then the Loch Leven Heritage Trail is a wonderful option. Taking you past a number of interesting points around the loch, the 21km trail is quite long but is also great for a casual walk as the ground is pretty level for most of its length. Cyclists can also follow the route if they wish, however we think it is best explored by foot as there are many things to see along the way, as we've highlighted below:

How do you follow the Trail?

Typically, the route is split into 5 sections, which we've outlined below. We've made sure to highlight things to see and do within each section in case you'd prefer not to walk the entire route and instead tackle the part of the route which seems most interesting to you.

Let's look at each section in closer detail:

FireShot Capture 1793 - loch leven heritage trail - Google Search -

Kinross Pier to Mary’s Gate walk, 2.5km

The trail begins at the historic Pier in Kinross, from which you can often take a boat tour across to Castle Island. There is also an old boathouse here which is owned by Historic Scotland, and is quite fascinating to walk around if it is open when you visit. From the pier, the path heads through Kirkgate Park and goes past the graveyard, where you'll spot the watchtower (which was used as a lookout for body snatchers). When you get to the end of the churchyard you'll immediately spot the panoramic view of Castle Island, famously the location where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. Keep an eye out for Mary's Gate, a wrought-iron gate named after Mary Queen of Scots.
d948b552-5d3e-4b7f-8799-f51e9b0c4260 (1)

Mary’s Gate to Burleigh Sands walk, 2km

From Mary’s Gate, the route moves through farmland, and you'll soon be met with views of the Ochil Hills. Keep following the route and you'll reach a bridge over the North Queich - a great place to look across the water at the wildlife. As you get to the other side of the bridge, you'll spot the Kingfisher Hide which is unsurprisingly a great place to spot a Kingfisher from. The route then brings you toward Burleigh Sands (pictured).

Burleigh Sands to Pow Burn walk, 2.5km

From Burleigh Sands the route takes you through a wooded area and past many tall Scot’s Pine trees, out the other side to Loch Leven. You'll see Mary’s Gate and Kinross straight ahead, but typically you follow the route to the left over a small stream. There is a good view northwest of the Ochil Hills. The farmland here is quite beautiful too, and you'll spot the Pow Burn flowing through the middle of the land.
Burleigh Sands Loch Leven

Pow Burn to Findatie and RSPB Vane Farm walk, 7.0km

From the Pow Burn, the route takes you past Carsehall Bog, which might not sound like much but is an area where you can spot some really interesting wildlife, and you'll often spot animals hiding within the reedbeds. From here, the route heads through the Black Wood, an area which includes birch trees, willows, hazel and alders. As you come out of the Black Wood, you follow the route across a bank, and you'll spot the views of Bishop Hill in the distance. This is where you can deviate from the route if you wish, as you're not far from Portmoak, Scotland’s National Gliding Centre. You can visit the centre, or you can simply take a moment to see if you can spot any gliders in the sky. If you stay on the route,  you'll have a gentle climb toward Vane Farm, the RSPB Nature Reserve. Here you can enjoy the stunning views over St Serf’s Island and Loch Leven. The 'Mill' hide has been recently renovated and is a stunning piece of architecture as well as a great place to watch the wildlife from.
Findatie Loch Leven

Loch Leven Mill to RSPB walk, 7km

From the Mill, the route follows down to the Old Railway feature which was the site of the old Loch Leven Station. As you follow the route on the right down the west side of Loch Leven, you can stop to admire the ponds and Sand Martin Bank. This is all part of the RSPB Loch Leven Reserve, and the terrain starts to become quite uneven and windy. Many people like to finish the route at the East Brackley Viewpoint, where you can take a well-earned rest and admire the stone sculptures as well as the stunning views of the loch. You can then walk back on yourself about a mile to the RSPB visitor centre for a well-earned coffee and cake.
RSPB hide Loch Leven

Alternative Routes

We should mention that the above route is just the most common route, and is not necessarily the best route or the route we'd choose to take. A popular alternative route starts and ends at Loch Leven's Larder, which is quite nice as you can enjoy a coffee either before or after the walk. You can tackle this route either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Loch Leven's Larder

If you choose to start at Loch Leven's Larder, you can walk right round to the Loch to The Boathouse restaurant area near the pier, where you'll find toilets and an information panel (pictured).


You can also alter your walk slightly to pass the RSPB visitor centre, where you can stop to use the toilet and buy some refreshments.


After you've visited the RSPB visitor centre, you'll have the choice to continue the Heritage trail or to detour slightly via the Wetlands Trail, which takes you a bit closer to the loch and the wildlife.

Wetlands Trail Loch Leven

What else is there to see along the Loch Leven Heritage Trail?

Aside from the lovely views of the loch and of the Ochill Hills and Bishop Hill in the distance, the main thing to keep an eye out for along the route is the wildlife as there is plenty to see - sedge warblers, otters and even kingfishers have been spotted here, so it's a great place for birdwatchers in particular. You don't necessarily need binoculars as you can often get up close and personal with the wildlife, but if you've got a pair we'd recommend bringing them! Aside from that, just enjoy the views like this gorgeous view of the Loch.
view of Loch Leven

What should you be aware of before heading on the Loch Leven Heritage Trail?

The main thing to consider before heading on the trail is that you should be dressed appropriately. Good footwear is a must and we're in Scotland so preparing for rain is a good idea too! Parking is pretty straightforward and is available at both Kirkgate Park or Burleigh Sands Car Park. You'll find benches like this every mile along the route, so good opportunities to take a break if needed.
bench along the Loch Leven Heritage Trail
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to follow this great trail. We've got guides about other cycle routes in Scotland, as well as lots of other routes throughout Scotland including the Borders Abbey Way, The Pictish Trail, and the Southern Upland Way. If you prefer to cycle then you could try the Coast & Castles route. Happy travels!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *