- Distance: 134 miles
- Type: Lots of traffic-free sections, with some on road cycling
A dedicated page lists any major route closures and diversions for the National Cycle Network in Scotland.
Route 76 runs for 134 miles from Kirkcaldy to Dunbar, which is covered in the Round the Forth map, and continues southwards for another 34 miles to Berwick-upon-Tweed, covered in the Coasts and Castles South map. Much of the route on the south of the Forth is part of the John Muir Way which runs from Dunbar to Helensburgh (opened in April 2014). The section from Berwick to South Queensferry is also part of the North Sea Cycle Route. You can also shorten the route or create circular routes by crossing the estuary on the Forth Road Bridge or the Kincardine Bridge. There are long-term aspirations to continue Route 76 around the East Neuk of Fife to St Andrews, but there is no timescale for this.
The Forth Estuary is one of the most interesting and varied parts of Scotland, and although the giant Grangemouth Refinery and colossal Kincardine Power Station dominate the landscape, they sit alongside renowned wildlife habitats, ancient castles, historic burghs, stately mansions and peaceful native woodlands. The Firth of Forth has been classified as a Special Protection Area under the EC Birds Directive because of its international importance for breeding and wintering seabirds, and the Isle of May has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation because of its grey seal colony. Few areas of Scotland are so steeped in history, yet so part of the present.
From Berwick, Route 76 heads north along the North Sea coast, following minor roads over remote country with some challenging gradients. Eyemouth offers some good fish and chips and you are advised to stock up here isn’t much in the way of refreshments until Dunbar. The terrain gets a bit flatter after Cockburnspath and there are substantial lengths of traffic-free path. Look out for signs to Barns Ness Geology Trail as you approach Dunbar. There are some sections of path which are rougher in this section - please look for notes on the map above.
Dunbar is a charming town and the harbour area is worth a detour. It is also the birthplace of the founder of the National Park movement, John Muir. From here, it’s 35 miles to Edinburgh, mainly traffic-free except for the section on minor road between East Linton and Haddington (junction with Route 196) which is relatively quiet, on the main street within Haddington (which can be busy), and along the coast road at Longniddry, a busy fast road (but on which cycling is common). There are fine beaches and excellent views to be had of the Edinburgh skyline as you head through old fishing and mining villages and into the town of Musselburgh. At Musselburgh, Route 76 joins Route 1 (follow Route 1 signage) to head through the centre of Edinburgh with its many attractions.
Once through the city, Route 76 signage begins again, with the route diverging from Route 1 at Cramond Brig. Here it heads round the parklands of Dalmeny Estate (use Route 1 for a shorter but less attractive option here), then through the historic town of South Queensferry (some busy roads but mostly slow traffic). After passing under the Forth Road Bridge, the route continues past Hopetoun House and along the coast to Bo’ness, where the town centre is an Outstanding Conservation Area. [Update to the 2008 paper map: path along the coast from Hopetoun Estate to Blackness and from Blackness to Bo’ness has been completed.] Heading west out of Bo’ness, the route takes you past the historic A-listed Kinneil House and a Roman fortlet (www.kinneil.org.uk). Please note that there is a short section of very rough path and a set of steps at the point where the route negotiates the protected Antonine Wall site. The route continues on a minor road that follows the line of the Antonine Wall, with views over Grangemouth Refinery.
The section of route between Grangemouth town and Stirling takes you through some surprisingly pleasant countryside, with wonderful views over the Forth estuary to the Ochil Hills beyond. Please note the markers on the map above at the villages of Cowie and Fallin. At Cowie there is a short section of path/track which can become extremely muddy - and at Fallin there are two gates on the cyclepath which are difficult to negotiate, even with a standard bicycle. Between the two is a busy stretch of road. Please check the comments section at the bottom of this page for ongoing notes about these issues. Both Sustrans and Stirling council officers are keen to find a solution.
The historic city of Stirling has its castle and the Wallace monument to explore and is also the junction with Route 765, which runs to Doune. We hope to extend it to Callander in time. Heading east out of Stirling there is a short section on the busy A907, but it’s soon over and you are on traffic-free route most of the way to Alloa. At Tullibody, Route 768 heads northwards to Menstrie and Alva, while in Alloa Route 767 (The Devon Way) heads north to Dollar. Also in Alloa, you pass Alloa Tower, the largest surviving keep in Scotland, dating back to the 14th century and run by the National Trust for Scotland.
A traffic-free path leads to the small town of Clackmannan, where you can join Route 764, a railway path to Dunfermline. Route 76 continues on a minor road to Kincardine, crossing over the approach road to the new Clackmannanshire Bridge. East from Kincardine, it is four miles on fine traffic-free path to Culross, a picturesque, historic town which retains many 16th and 17th buildings. From here it’s another 10 miles on a mixture of traffic-free paths and minor roads until you head past the port of Rosyth and under the Forth Road Bridge again.
The final stretch begins on a path that hugs the coast past Dalgety Bay and through woodland to Aberdour and its award winning sandy beaches. A path through woodland and squeezed between the sea and the railway line takes you to Burntisland and you are then on a wide road to the village of Kinghorn. There then follows a rather steep climb up though farmland, but this is rewarded by a downward run into the seaside town of Kirkcaldy, where Route 76 ends on the beach esplanade There are long-term plans to continue the route round the East Neuk of Fife to St Andrews. From the esplanade, you can join Route 766, which heads northwards to Glenrothes and beyond to link with Route 1.
Things to see and do
- North Sea Coast
- Dalmeny Estate
- Hopetoun House
- Bo'ness and Kinneil Steam Railway
- Stirling Castle
- Dalgety Bay
Substantial sections of National Route 76 use the same paths as the John Muir Way, a long distance route for cycling and walking between Dunbar and Helensburgh.
National Route 76 of the National Cycle Network runs from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh, Stirling and Kirkcaldy, with the route on both sides of the Forth.