Status - dismantled (tiny section abandoned)
Length - Dunfermline to Kelty, 6.8 miles, Steelend branch, 5 miles, Lathalmond branch, 800 yards.
Traffic - freight only
The West Fife Mineral Railway ran from Dunfermline to Kelty and also had branches to Steelend and Lathalmond. Its primary purpose was the transportation of coal but the Lathalmond section served the Royal Navy stores depot. There was also a connection with a line formerly known as the Townhill Tramway. This will be dealt with separately.
From Kelty, another mineral route ran to Thornton. The through route from Dunfermline to Thornton can be considered as one system but the two halves were built as separate ventures by different companies and will be given their own pages on this site.
This is the trackbed of the former Dunfermline to Stirling main line. It has now been converted to a cycle path. The mineral railway branched off to the right here at Whitemyre Junction. The exact site of the split is now obscured by dense vegetation.
Parts of the mineral railway's embankment are visible from Rumblingwell (A907).
The line once crossed the A907 here. The overgrown embankment can be seen on the left. Out of shot on the right, a new housing development has been built upon the route of the railway.
The line can be picked up again on the edge of Dunfermline. Here we stumble across the remains of a water tower - an extremely rare and unexpected find!
The next point of interest is the bridge at Wellwood. The pipes across the cutting carry hot water from the nearby landfill site, where an incineration process is used to generate electricity, the water being a by-product and used to supply the Carnegie Leisure centre further down the road.
Near the village of Wellwood, the line becomes a path for walkers and cyclists. This picture shows Lilliehill Junction, the point where the West Fife Mineral Railway linked up with the Townhill Tramway. The mineral railway is the curved path on the right, now signposted Bridle Path. The section from Whytemire Junction to Lilliehill was closed in 1963. The tramway route leads down to the present Fife Circle line.
A stroll along Bridle Path towards Wellwood is a pleasant outing but it seems quite uneventful. The trackbed runs straight as a die into the distance and the embankment on your right makes it clear you are following the course of a railway line.
If you glance between the trees to your left, a real surprise is in store. A short section of overgrown track is still in place. It is believed that this was once the siding for the Fife Electrical Company. A major substation is situated here today. Why these rails were left behind when the whole system was dismantled is anyone's guess. Proof that you should always keep your eyes peeled.
Back on the West Fife Mineral Railway trackbed. After the junction with the Townhill tramway, the cycle path comes to an end at the point where the line formerly crossed Cairncubie Road, Townhill. The footpath across the road allows further exploration of the old trackbed, where it split into two separate sections for Steelend and Kelty.
A spur from the Kelty branch ran through Townhill Wood to Muircockhall Colliery, which closed in 1944 but was used as a training centre until 1969. The trackbed is now an aptly-named woodland walk.
Bridge under the B917 on the approach to Kelty. The trackbed on both sides has been farmed over and tractors now pass below. The bridge is constructed from a mixture of stone, concrete and brickwork, reflecting various repair work done over the years.
Arriving at Kelty, the West Fife Mineral Railway passed under the A909 through this tunnel which has been almost completely infilled. The last worker has abandoned his wheelbarrow near the entrance.
Another shot of the tunnel. It is amazing how places like this can exist just a few yards away from a main street. You just have to know where to look. The Kelty route remained connected to the Townhill Tramway until 1976.
A confluence of raliway lines once came together at Kelty. The Cowdenbeath to Perth line provided passenger services but Kelty station was located over a mile from the village centre and never proved popular, being closed for good as early as 1930. There were mineral connections to Dunfermline and Thornton and also lines running to various pits; the Aitken, Lindsay and Blairenbathie collieries definitely all had rail links. If you take a walk around Kelty today looking for railway lines in service, you will find precisely nothing.
The Steelend branch passes under a farm road between Townhill and Bowershall. This line was opened in 1858 and served local pits and quarries, including the extensive Roscobie limekilns.
Clear evidence of the line, seen from the A823.
A well-preserved stretch of embankment heading towards Steelend. Lethans Colliery made use of this section until the mine's closure in 1938. Cunningly, the railway company built the line only as far as Steelend goods yard and asked colliery owners further afield to pay for any future extensions. In 1909, the route reached the edge of the site today occupied by Knockhill racing circuit but this western extremity lasted just over a quarter of a century, closing in 1935.
Another missing bridge. A solitary sheep guards the entrance to the cutting beyond.
Looking back towards the cutting at Threshyburn Farm. Another bridge has been demolished here. Following the track to the left leads to the edge of the M90 Business Park, which was formerly the location of the sprawling Lathalmond Royal Navy stores depot, served by a short railway spur.
This ramshackle hut stands on the site of Gask Junction, where the short branch to Lathalmond split from the Steelend line. The hut is built from railway sleepers and may have been a shelter for track workers. The track between the junction and Steelend goods yard was closed in 1951.
On the trackbed of the Lathalmond branch, looking back towards Gask Junction. This short branch originally served Gask Limeworks but from 1915 onwards the primary traffic was centred around the Royal Navy stores depot.
Some of the rolling stock stabled at Lathalmond as part of the Shed 47 railway restoration project. Rail traffic to the 90-acre naval complex ceased in 1971 but the depot remained open until 1993. Shed 47 formerly housed the on-site locomotives and is today in the hands of enthusiasts who make use of the workshop's facilities. The whole area is now known as the M90 Business Park and also contains the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum.
Rail chair found at Gask Junction, 41 years after closure. An assortment of concrete sleepers are also strewn around the site.