Loch Leven Heritage Trail

The Loch Leven Heritage Trail runs for 13 miles around the shores 0f Loch Leven, immediately next to Kinross in Central Scotland. The trial is mostly level or slightly undulating, other than a short climb at RSPB Loch Leven and is suitable for walkers, cyclist, runners and, of course, kick scooter riders.

As always I like to do some research into prospective routes beforehand and this one was no different with my main question being the condition of the trail surface. It was obvious from images found online that the trail was compacted gravel and appeared quite rough in places. Smooth tarmac would have been ideal but gravel it was. This left the question of which Swifty to take, the Swifty Zero or the Swifty Air. Had the trail been tarmac it would have been the Swifty Zero with its faster skinnier tyres but the Swifty Air is ideally set up for this type of trail with larger tyres, so Swifty Air it would be.

Located some 40 miles from home in Bonnyrigg and most of the route on dual carriageway or motorway, only 45 minutes saw me arriving in Kinross. Parking is readily available at various locations but most are unlit at night and out of the way, I wanted to check out a suitable location to park for a future night-ride and found that a suitable option was at the woollen mills to the south of Kinross, also with a link path to the trail. Today, I parked at Kirkgate Park, right next to the loch and the trail.

I followed the trail in a clockwise direction, immediately noticing that the trail was very rough and worn, making for quite hard work on the Swifty Air, despite the larger tyres. I did find myself hoping the trail surface would improve and would not be like this all the way round. However, conditions did improve and some sections were smooth and fast. Even the rougher section offered smooth edges where erosion had depoisted the finer materials.

The trail passed through various stretches of woodland and was busy with runners, dog walkers and cyclists, most were courteous but a few, mostly men, seemed annoyed by my presence, despite me stopping to let them past they would not exchange a hello or wave. Parts of the trail were through damp areas of woodland bordering the loch and the scent of Himalayan Balsam filled the air.

After crossing a small bridge, where the water from the loch flow into the River Leven, the first short uphill section begins, taking me past RSPB Loch Leven. I was tempted to visit the cafe but I had no lock to secure the Swifty and made a mental note to get one. Having now left the shelter of woodland, the next section is more exposed with a fair headwind running alongside the B9097, before another short climb to a viewing area with shelter, benches and some sculptures. Worth a stop here as the views are excellent.

Next a downhill section needing some care due to trail erosion and then an easy scoot beside low-lying fields back into Kinross. The 13 miles had taken about 2 hours, and that includes plenty of photo stops. Next time I’d follow the trail in the opposite direction, placing the wind to my back in the more open areas and benefit from the shelter of the woodland when heading back into the direction of the wind. Next visit, I think, will be a night ride, hopefully under a full moon and perhaps all the dog walkers, runners, cyclists and walkers will all be home in bed and I’ll have the place to myself.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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