Kirkcaldy is a town on the coast of Fife in central Scotland. It was named "The Lang Toun" when its high street stretched for a mile, but then it grew to four miles. It's industrial, making linoleum, and in 2016 had a population of 50,010. Famous people from Kirkcaldy include the economist Adam Smith, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the crime fiction writer Val McDermid.
In 1723 Kirkcaldy was the birthplace of Adam Smith, founder of the science of economics and author of "Wealth of Nations". He's particularly associated with the laissez-faire or liberal-classical strand of economics, holding that the greatest wealth is created by the free operation of the "invisible hand" of market forces. He was also well aware of the destructive and corrupting effects of those forces, and this dichotomy is why his theories and legacy are debated to this day. For example, market forces imply market failure, but what if that failure takes down a bank, railway company, energy supplier, hospital, college or city? But if we can agree upon one economic lesson from Smith it is this: if you have a £20 note bearing his likeness, offload it before Oct 2022, and get one with JMW Turner which will remain legal tender. Even better if you trade it for one depicting Alan Turing, as that's worth £50.
Smith's work chimed well with the 18th / 19th century industrialists who developed Kirkcaldy into a large port. Commerce was driven by the Fife coalfields, salt panning, whaling and linen. Flax was also spun into coarse floor-cloths (cheaper than carpet) that protected floors and cut out draughts, and techniques were devised to spray oil or resin onto a canvas backing, creating linoleum. This turned into a big seller, as it was durable, washable, inexpensive, and could be brightly patterned and cut to precise size. By 1877 Kirkcaldy was the world's largest manufacturer of lino, with half a dozen factories and a distinctive oily pong across town. This industry declined from 1960 with foreign competition but continues in town, other manufacturing arrived, and the port re-opened in 2011 when it was equipped to handle container freight.
See Fife for long-distance options. From Edinburgh Airport take the direct Bus 747 across the bridge to Inverkeithing for trains or Halbeath for buses.
Kirkcaldy is on the east coast mainline which runs from London Kings Cross via York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Inverkeithing to Kirkcaldy, continuing north to Dundee and Aberdeen. The Caledonian Highland Sleeper runs from London Euston reaching Kirkcaldy around 05:00 en route to Aberdeen. Trains from Edinburgh to Perth and Inverness also come this way every hour or two. From Glasgow, Manchester or Birmingham, change at Haymarket.
The Fife Loop Train runs from Edinburgh twice an hour M-Sa and hourly on Sunday via Haymarket, Inverkeithing, then along the coast via Aberdour and Burntisland to Kirkcaldy (45 mins). A walk-up single from Edinburgh is £9. These trains continue to Glenrothes with Thornton then loop anti-clockwise back to Dunfermline, Rosyth, Inverkeithing, and Edinburgh. Don't go the long way round on the clockwise loop, from Inverkeithing via Dunfermline and Glenrothes. If in doubt in Edinburgh, step aboard then you've got 20 min to Inverkeithing to decide whether to stay on or step off for the next train.
1 Kirkcaldy railway station, Abbotshall Rd KY1 1YL. This has a ticket office staffed M-Sa 06:30-19:00, Su 08:00-21:00, toilets open same hours. There are ticket machines and a WH Smiths.
Bus X27 runs from Glasgow via Dunfermline to Kirkcaldy (2 hours) and Leven. It runs every 30 mins M-Sat and hourly on Sunday.
Bus 7 runs along the coast from Dunfermline via Inverkeithing, Aberdour and Burntisland to Kirkcaldy and Leven; M-Sa every 30 min and hourly on Sunday.
Bus X37 runs every 30 min from Glenrothes and takes 30 min. Bus 39 and Bus 32 are slower routes.
Kirkcaldy 2 bus station is central, enter from Hill St.
From south or west, exit M90 at Jcn 2A onto A92 eastbound, then take A910 into town. This is much quicker than the coast road.
Town is walkable but quite spread out. Bus 7 takes you along the coast and the Glenrothes buses get you inland.
Bus 11 makes an hourly loop between the bus station and Chapel Fife retail park. Bus 13 starts in Lochgelly and runs hourly to Kirkcaldy, Dysart and West Wemyss.
- Old Kirk is on Kirk Wynd a block north of the shopping centre. Its western tower from around 1500 is the town's oldest building, though most of it is early 19th century. It ceased to be used as church in 2008 and is now a performance and event space.
- Kirkcaldy Galleries, War Memorial Gardens, Abbotshall Rd KY1 1YG (next to railway station), ☏ . Tu-F 10:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-15:00, Su 12:00-15:00. The museum displays the town's industrial heritage, such as the local Wemyss Ware pottery. The gallery has several works by Scottish Colourists and Jack Vettriano originals.
- 1 Kirkcaldy Town House is the council offices, built in 1956 as a sort-of Nordic, sort-of neo-Classical low rise. The main entrance is west off pedestrianised Wemyssfield.
- 2 Ravenscraig Castle is the ruin of a castle built in 1460 at a time when gunpowder and artillery were getting the better of early medieval castles; so it was built to withstand cannon shot and to be an artillery platform itself. It was also to be a comfortable residence for the wife of James II, but he'd no sooner planned it when he got blown up by one of his own cannon. ("It's people that kill, not cannon!" so no legislation was passed.) The castle ceased to be a residence after Cromwell wrecked it but, in an appropriate coda, it was used as an ammunition depot in the First World War. The ruin is free to stroll any time.
- Ravenscraig Park is the woodland east from the castle to Dysart. The large car park is reached by ignoring Satnav, which is trying to take you to brownfield Ravenscraig near Motherwell.
- 3 Dysart is a small harbour that fell on hard times once the pit closed and coal shipping ceased. The village was then merged into Kirkcaldy and much of it swept away for bland housing estates, but a historic core around the harbour has been preserved. See the Tolbooth, Town Hall, Pan Ha' (cottages by the salt pans), St Serf's church tower of 1500, and Dysart House. The Carmelite Monastery just north is still active, but in a modern building. Don't go searching for Dysart Castle, as that's near Thomastown in Ireland, and according to its famous resident Bishop Berkeley, it may not even exist if no-one happens to be looking at it.
- What's on? For local events read Fife Today or listen to Kingdom FM on 95.2 and 96.1.
- 1 Adam Smith Theatre, Bennochy Rd KY1 1ET (opposite railway station), ☏ . This is the town's main performing arts venue.
- Kings Theatre is central on the Esplanade, +44 1592 564481. The town cinema closed down many years ago.
- 2 Beveridge Park is a pleasant green space, with swans on the lake and rowing boat hire.
- 3 Fife Ice Arena, Rosslyn St KY1 3HS, ☏ . F 19:00-20:30, Sa Su 14:00-15:30. This has public skating and curling matches, but is best known as the home of Fife Flyers, who play in the Elite Ice Hockey League.
- Beach: the main beach is sandy, stretching east of the harbour to Ravenscraig Castle. There are shorter, more shingly sections east to Dysart. Two miles south of town is Seafield Beach.
- Golf: Kirkcaldy GC is on Beveridge Park. North of town is Dunnikier Park GC surrounding Oswald House, see Sleep.
- Watch football at Raith Rovers. They were promoted in 2020 and now play soccer in the Scottish Championship, the games' second tier. Their home ground is Stark's Park, capacity 8800, on Pratt Street half a mile southeast of town centre.
- Links Market is a travelling fairground that occupies a mile of the Esplanade. It's held for six days in mid-April but dates for 2022 are tba.
- Highland Games: see Glenrothes#Do for the games held in June at Markinch and in July at Thornton.
- Mercat Shopping Centre is the large retail block between the bus station and the sea front. Postings Shopping Centre on its north side has closed down.
- Rejects at 123 St Clair Street towards the ice rink is a huge department store specialising in second-hand and DIY furnishing. It's open M-Sa 10:00-16:30, Su 11:00-17:00.
- Chapel Fife is an edge-of-town retail park at the junction of A92 and A910, with B&Q, M&S, Halfords, Currys and the like.
- Farmers Market was traditionally on the last Saturday of each month in the square next to the Townhouse. It's nowadays sporadic, and more regularly held in St Andrews and Cupar.
- High St is the main strip, with Duchess of Kirkcaldy, Maxin Chinese, La Valente fish & chips, EDA Turkish, Dehlicious, Pommy's (below), The Prince Indian, Amritsar Tandoori, Annapurna Gurkha, and La Gondola.
- The Robert Nairn, 6 Kirk Wynd KY1 1EH (100 yards north of bus station), ☏ . Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00. Reliable JD Wetherspoon chain outlet. It's named for the 19th century industrialist who founded Kirkcaldy's linoleum trade.
- 1 Pommy's World Buffet, 31 Esplanade KY1 1HR, ☏ . Daily 14:00-22:00. It's got a bit of everything and is open from early afternoon, so it could save your skin on a cold wet day.
- 2 Giovanni's, 66a Dunnikier Rd KY1 2QN, ☏ . Tu-Su 17:00-23:00. Consistently good family-run Italian restauran, half a mile north of High Street.
- 1 Victoria Hotel, 28 Victoria Rd KY1 1DS, ☏ . Small clean comfy place. B&B double £75.
- Windsor Hotel, 38 Victoria Rd KY1 1DR (near Victoria Hotel), ☏ . Great value small hotel, some noise from street and karaoke bar. B&B double £60.
- Beveridge Park Hotel, 6 Abbotshall Rd Rd KY2 5PQ (south side of railway station), ☏ . Central welcoming small hotel. B&B double £60.
- 2 Oswald House, Dunnikier Park KY1 3LP, ☏ . Plush hotel in an 18th century mansion at the golf course, often caters for weddings. B&B double £100.
- Ashgrove B&B on Nicol St south of the station is dingy.
- 3 Dean Park Hotel, Chapel Level KY2 6HF (On A92), ☏ . Given a stylish makeover in 2019, Dean Park is by the retail park north edge of town, so a good choice for motorists. B&B double £130.
Kirkcaldy has 4G from all UK carriers. As of Oct 2021, 5G has not reached this area.
- The coast improves east of Leven, with a series of picturesque fishing villages: Elie, Pittenweem, Anstruther (for boat trips to Isle of May) and Crail.
- St Andrews is an attractive medieval university town.
- Glenrothes is a humdrum "New Town", but north of it are the Lomond Hills, and Falkland Palace and gardens.
|Routes through Kirkcaldy|
|Edinburgh ← Dunfermline / ←||SW NE||→ Glenrothes → Dundee|