Scottish Wildlife logo
SWT Membership Link
Scottish Wildlife logo

Cullaloe Wildlife Reserve near Aberdour is on the grounds of what was once the Burntisland reservoir. Part of the reserve is designated an SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) and supports several local and nationally rare plants.

Within its boundaries Cullaloe contains a variety of environments including a small loch, mature woodland, scrub, open grass areas, and hosts a wide range of woodland birds, wildfowl and other wildlife. The site is jointly managed by SWT and Fife Council and there is disabled access.

Access to the Reserve
Cullaloe is just off the B9157 Aberdour to Kirkcaldy road. From the Forth Bridge take the A921 Fife coast road to Aberdour. Take the first exit from the Braefoot Bay roundabout onto the B9157. Continue north under the railway bridge and further on for about 2 miles.

The reserve is sign-posted to the right, and the entrance is by a small cottage. There is disabled parking at the top of the drive, and more car parking spaces near the lower pools at the bottom of the drive.

Warning rough ground
The reserve all lies to the north of the car parks and there is a made up path that starts near the disabled parking and leads along to and past the loch.

There are no other footpaths on the reserve so please note that the ground is in places quite steep and rough. The lower parts of the reserve (the drained reservoir bed) can be wet and boggy, so suitable footwear is advised.

PRINT OUT a copy of this Web page and take it with you when you visit the reserve.

Slide Show of the Reserve
for IE 4/5 and Netscape 5 only

Photo Album of Reserve
for all other Browsers

Back to the Top of the Page




NT 186 878
O.S. Sheet 65


The Cullaloe reserve comprises several distinct and diverse environments, each supporting its own wildlife and plant communities. These are the old loch (rich in wildfowl and rare plant life), the wooded areas of mature woodland trees to the south and north of the loch (woodland birds and wildlife), the floor and banks of the drained reservoir (willow carr), the lower pools (aquatic insects and plants), several wild rough grassed areas (wild flowers, butterflies and insects), and the steep slopes along the boundary to the east of the reserve.

Although the western side of Cullaloe is bounded by the B9157 road, which can at times be noisy, one of the major charms of the reserve is its local surroundings, with farm fields and mature conifer woodlands across the road to the west, low hills to the east, open views of the beautiful Fife countryside to the north and the Pentlands across the Firth to the south. The relatively undisturbed and varied surrounding countryside encourages birds of prey and buzzards and kestrels are common sights at Cullaloe.

Two rare plants grow at Cullaloe: Water Sedge, and Mudwort. Mudwort grows on the muddy shores of the loch and to enable this plant to flower and seed the loch is partially drained each summer between the months of June and October.

Historical Perspective

One of the geological features of the Cullaloe reserve is the steep sided valley of the Dour burn. Until the late 19th century it was probably a mixture of scrub, marshy areas and land used for grazing.

In 1876 a dam was built which created a large southern reservoir and a smaller northern reservoir.

These provided a water source for Burntisland for more than 100 years but in 1986 the reservoirs were no longer required. The southern section of the site was drained and a new spillway built to lower the level of the northern section. This remains as the loch and the Cullaloe site has been developed as a wildlife reserve since that time.


Cullaloe is jointly managed by the SWT and Fife Council. Regular work is done in some areas with the aim of maintaining or increasing diversity.

All the area of Cullaloe is accessible but care must be taken not to disturb nesting birds or trample on any of the areas that support the rarer plant species. Additional information for visitors is given on a map of the reserve which is located on the top of the old dam. As well as the ample car parking space, and several bench seats for the use of visitors, there is also a woven wickerwork screen (acting as a hide) on the southern shore of the loch.

Why not visit another of our reserves?
Choose from the drop-down list below
and click on your choice.