(161) Wormit-Balmerino Abbey Circuit (Fife)

Route Summary
An interesting coastal walk in a very scenic area with lots of ups and downs on the undulating route taking in views of the Tay Estuary and mixed woodland. The Tay Rail Bridge and the pretty hamlet of Balmerino, with its ancient abbey ruins, are particularly memorable features.

Duration: 3.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 3.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: Frequent Stagecoach buses pass through Wormit. Check timetables. Free parking at the walk start/end point.
Length: 8.750 km / 5.47 mi
Height Gain: 223 meter.
Height Loss: 223 meter.
Max Height: 57 meter.
Min Height: 2 meter.
Surface: Moderate. mostly on a good, well-maintained path. At the mid-point, some walking on minor roads, followed by a 1 km section on a rougher track through woodland before returning on the Coastal Path.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, dogs on lead on public roads and in the sections through fields with (Highland) cattle.
Refreshments: Options in Newport-on-Tay and Dundee.

This very pleasant walk, much of it on the Fife Coastal path, provides stunning views of the Tay Rail Bridge and fine views over the Tay Estuary to Dundee. The houses and cottages in the extended hamlet at Balmerino, many once abandoned, are charming and pretty, and now much sought after. The focal point on the route is the ruins of Balmerino Abbey in a tree-lined glade, and now maintained by the National Trust for Scotland. Founded in the early 13th C by monks from Melrose Abbey it was burned in 1547 by an English army and damaged again in 1559 as part of the Scottish Reformation. Due to plundering for building stone, only the smaller support structures to the north survive, most notable of which are the fan-vaulted cloisters. The grounds are notable for an ancient Spanish Chestnut Tree, believed to be over 400 years old. After ascending to the white-washed cottages of Kirkton of Balmerino on the return leg, the route passes through mixed woodland with high views over the Estuary before dropping back to the Coastal Path for the final section. The walk starts and finishes at a memorial to the 75 lives lost in the Tay Bridge Disaster. At its completion, the bridge was considered an engineering marvel and won international acclaim. However, during a violent storm on Sunday 28th December 1879, the bridge collapsed as a train from Burntisland to Dundee passed over it, killing all aboard. As a result, future bridge designs had far more rigorous specifications. Balmerino contains a number of 18th and 19th century houses and is now an official Conservation Area. It was described in verse by Dundee’s celebrated (perhaps, not in a good way) poet, William McGonagall, as follows: “Beautiful Balmerino on the bonnie banks of Tay, It’s a very bonnie spot in the months of June or May; The scenery there is charming and fascinating to see, Especially the surroundings of the old Abbey

Photos from walk  
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Outdooractive
Access Walk on Wikiloc


One thought on “(161) Wormit-Balmerino Abbey Circuit (Fife)

  1. Loved this route – so nice to see blackthorn hedgerows lining the track. We did it at the right time of year for sloes, hazelnuts and brambles.

    Liked by 1 person

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