Burntisland is a port on the north coast of the Firth of Forth, in Fife in central Scotland, with a population of 6590 in 2016. Its west side is industrial and formerly had ship-building, but its east (downriver) is a small seaside resort and commuter town for Edinburgh. Its name refers to an island in the harbour that was long ago engulfed by shoreline development. The usual story is that huts there caught fire, but it could derive from "Burnet's land" a bygone landowner.
See Fife for inter-city routes. From Edinburgh Airport take Bus 747 (24 hours) across the river and change to train or bus in Inverkeithing.
Inter-city trains seldom stop in Burntisland so you need to change at Edinburgh, Haymarket or Inverkeithing for the Fife loop train. This runs from Edinburgh (M-Sa twice an hour, Su hourly) via Haymarket over the Forth Bridge to North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay, Aberdour and Burntisland (35 min), continuing along the coast to Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes / Thornton then looping back anti-clockwise via Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline to Inverkeithing and Edinburgh. You don't want to be on the clockwise loop going the long way round inland via Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes / Thornton then along the coast west via Kirkcaldy to Burntisland. Trains from Edinburgh badged "Glenrothes and Thornton" could be going either way, so if in doubt hop on, then you've got 10 min to Inverkeithing to check whether to stay aboard, or to step off and await the next train. For trains north to Dundee and Aberdeen, change in Kirkcaldy.
1 Burntisland Station is south side of town near the docks. It has a ticket office staffed M-Sa and ticket machines but no toilets.
From 1847 to 1890 the world's first ro-ro ferry plied across the Forth between Burntisland and Granton near Edinburgh: railway trucks were shunted on and off the ferry without needing unloading, while passengers walked. It only closed once the railway bridge spanned the Forth. Dr Bell of Edinburgh, one of the main inspirations for Sherlock Holmes, once theatrically deduced that a patient had come by this ferry by the nature of the mud on his boots. Much too simple to notice the patient's home address and make an obvious inference.
Inter-city buses don't call here. Stagecoach Fife Bus 7 runs along the coast from Dunfermline to Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay, Aberdour, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy and Leven, M-Sa every 30 min and hourly on Sunday. The main bus stop is by the junction of High St and Kirkgate.
From the south cross the Forth on M90 Queen's Crossing Bridge (no toll) and take exit 1C onto A921 eastbound.
The town can be explored on foot. Bus 7 (above) gets you along the coast road to Kinghorn and beyond.
Bay Travel Bus B1 loops around town hourly. Others such as BW3 and BW4 are just school buses.
- 1 Museum of Communication, 131 High Street KY3 9AA, ☏ . Closed ufn. Telegraph, radio, radar, TV, IT, all were found in these parts from their earliest days, with military, industrial and commercial uses.
- Burntisland Heritage Trust put on exhibitions of town history. They're in Burgh Chambers, corner of Kirkgate and High Street, hours vary.
- St Columba's Church (Burntisland Parish Church), East Leven St KY3 9DH (just north of railway station). "What we most need, Your Majesty, is a new Bible." This C of S (Protestant) church was the first built in Scotland after the 16th century Reformation. Protestant church architecture was still feeling its way and this is a very set-square building, a church symbolically founded upon a rock. It was completed in 1594, in a bit of a hurry as the new town walls had left its predecessor "without a city wall", prey to all sorts of marauders. The church has an interesting painted interior, and a gallery so that sailors could tiptoe out whenever tides dictated that they didn't stay for the end of the sermon. (A Presbyterian sermon, thank God for tides!) In 1601 St Columba's hosted the C of S General Assembly that proposed a new Bible, which King James VI & I supported to create the "Authorised Version" of the Bible.
- 2 Old Parish Church is a 12th century ruin on Church St, north side of town.
- Town Walls are fragmentary. A gateway stands astride West Broomhill Rd towards Rossend Castle.
- 3 Rossend Castle, Melville Gardens KY3 0DF. Closed. This is a 16th century fortfied mansion over the site of a 12th century bastion. By the 1970s it had gone to rack and ruin and was likely to be demolished, but the architects Robert Hurd & C bought and converted it into their offices, where they remain. So you can't visit, just admire the exterior, but the elegant timber ceiling is on display in the National Museum, Edinburgh.
- The Beach: "Award-winning" they say, but the award must be for fuel efficiency because it's spattered with coal. This is natural pollution: there are coal outcrops on the sea bed, so shards continually wash ashore.
- 4 The Links is the park above the beach, granted to the town by James V in 1541. His ancestor James II banned the sinful game of golf, but in 1502 James IV rescinded this, bought a set of clubs, and took to coming home very late for Sunday lunch in a foul mood and with his Pringle sweater covered in burrs.
- 5 Alexander III Monument is the spot where that king (1241-1286) was killed, thrown from his horse down a steep embankment, travelling alone on a wild stormy night. It was during Alexander's reign that Scotland ousted the Vikings from the Highlands and Hebridean islands, though it took another 200 years to gain Orkney and Shetland. The monument was built in 1886 by Hippolyte Blanc, the prolific church architect.
- 6 Kinghorn and Pettycur is the next village east, 3 miles along the coast. There are small beaches, a golf course, accommodation and a couple of caravan parks. The loop trains also stop here.
- 7 Black Rocks are more the colour of a decomposing crab. They're a tidal islet out in the bay, reached at low tide by the spit from Pettycur to the northeast, and even then with a bit of sploshing. At other times they're within easy kayak and SUP distance from shore.
- Burntisland Fairground is on the Links each summer June-Aug.
- Golf: Burntisland House GC (aka Dodhead) is on B923 a mile northeast of town. Kinghorn GC is 200 yards west of Kinghorn railway station.
- The Binn is the hill rearing up behind Dodhead golf course to 632 ft / 193 m. An east-west footpath loops off the coast roads.
- Fife Coastal Path extends from Alloa all the way east beneath the Forth bridges to Burntisland and onward to the East Neuk. To go west, simplest from High St is to head up Lothian St and Kirkton Rd to pick up the trail by Haugh Road. This leads through housing estates then along the railway, eventually ducking beneath the track to come onto the shore path to Aberdour. Going east is only worth doing at low tide, when you can walk along the beach to Kinghorn then trend north towards Kirkcaldy. When the tide's in you have to follow the main road A921; there's a sidewalk but it's a busy boring road. You can easily walk one way and riide back on the bus or train.
- 1 Beacon Leisure Centre, Lammerlaws Road KY3 9BS, ☏ . M-F 11:00-21:00, Sa Su 08:00-16:00. Local authority-run centre with gym, fitness classes and pool.
- 2 Divebunker, Lamerlaws Road KY3 9BS, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00. Dive shack, organises scuba dive trips in the Firth of Forth.
- Burntisland Highland Games are held on the Links, third Monday in July. The next is on Mon 18 July 2022.
- Co-op Food is east end of High St, open daily 07:00-22:00.
- In Burntisland in 2021 you'll struggle to find a sit-down meal. White's on Links Rd is one spot, open daily 12:00-21:30. Otherwise it's takeaway, choose from fish & chips, kebabs, Chinese, Indian, pizza, the usual.
- Burntisland town centre pubs are Old Port Bar, Crown Tavern, Silver Tassie, The Star and Smugglers Inn.
- Kinghorn has The Auld Hoose and Crown Tavern.
- Burntisland House Hotel, 81 High St KY3 9AA (town centre), ☏ . Basic place, looks derelict from outside; okay within for what you're paying. B&B double £50.
- 1 Burntisland Sands Hotel, Lochies Road KY3 9JX, ☏ . Friendly small hotel, most clients are here for the restaurant. B&B double £110.
- 2 Kingswood Hotel, Kinghorn Road, Burntisland, KY3 9LL (A mile east of town centre), ☏ . Clean comfy place with good dining. B&B double £110.
As of Sept 2021, Burntisland has 4G from EE and Vodafone, but a poor signal from Three or O2. 5G has not reached this area.
- Aberdour is within walking distance, the next village west up the Forth. After Dalgety Bay the coast is industrial.
- Dunfermline is Scotland's medieval capital, with a fine abbey.
- Kirkcaldy and Leven going east are industrial, then the scenery improves as you approach the East Neuk.