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Things to do in Glenrothes, Fife

Glenrothes is located in Fife, East Central Scotland about 30 miles north of Edinburgh.

The Dream by Malcolm Robertson symbolises the friendship of young people regardless of race or background. It is situated near Church Street, opposite Glenrothes Town Centre. © Ian Sloan Photography
The Dream by Malcolm Robertson, opposite Glenrothes Town Centre © Ian Sloan

History of Glenrothes

It is the newest and the smallest of Fife's main towns as it was developed as a New Town after World War II to provide labour for the Rothes "Super Colliery".

Projections for the colliery were that it would extract 5,000 tonnes of coal per day and provide coal for a century.

It was expected to employ 4,000 miners with many more jobs in the support industries.

A new rail yard was also built beside the colliery at Redford and affordable housing for mining families was built at Glenrothes.

These giant irises once stood over the Glenrothes exhibit at the Glasgow Garden Festival, now at Fettykil Roundabout © Ian Sloan
Giant Irises at The Fettykil Roundabout © Ian Sloan

The colliery was opened in 1957 by Queen Elizabeth II.

It employed 1500 people and lasted just four years before closing, as it could not overcome the many difficulties of flooding and geological problems.

After the closure of the Rothes Colliery, the challenge facing the area was to attract new industry to the area to counter this huge setback, and new plans had to be adopted to allow for industrial estates.

Carpet and flooring, electronics and other high-tech businesses eventually moved in, although the area suffered during the recession in the 1990s.

The New Bridge spans the River Leven and the Town Park in Glenrothes © Ian Sloan
Bridge over the River Leven and the Town Park © Ian Sloan

As part of the new town plan, through traffic was discouraged.

A ring road and huge roundabouts were designed to keep the traffic moving.

The upside was that the roundabouts provided great opportunities for some creative gardening landscapes.

They resulted in the town winning many awards including a Silver Gilt Award for Britain in Bloom 2009!


Present Day Glenrothes

Latest figures show Glenrothes has a population of approximately 39,000.

This modern statue was unveiled by Prince Charles in the Town Park, Glenrothes © Ian Sloan
Statue in the Town Park © Ian Sloan


It is the administrative capital of Fife and is the epitome of a clean, modern town.

As part of the New Town plan, Glenrothes has the largest indoor shopping centre in Scotland.

The Kingdom Centre has over 100 retail outlets and restaurants, a cinema, theatre and conference centre.

The Leisure Centre has floodlit sports tracks, a large gym and two swimming pools.

Balgonie Castle was visited by Rob Roy McGregor and is now the home to many weddings - and to the owner, The Laird of Balgonie © Ian Sloan
Balgonie Castle © Ian Sloan


Three of the modern churches are being considered for listed buildings status and the town incorporates many parks and artworks.

Each district also has small shopping centres for local needs.

Housing is mainly low-rise or houses with small gardens and the few high-rise blocks at Raeburn Heights are slowly being replaced with conventional housing.

It is a high employment area with a great deal of commuter traffic from outlying areas.

Due to the high proportion of foreign workers, it is also a very cosmopolitan town.

The Heritage. A David Harding masterpiece set in a quiet square off the Kingdom Shopping Centre, Glenrothes.  © Ian Sloan Photography
The Heritage by David Harding, in a quiet square off the Kingdom Shopping Centre © Ian Sloan

The shopping centre is served by a bus terminal and further expansion will include another supermarket.


Things to Do Around Glenrothes

The former branch railway line from Leslie to Markinch is now a cycleway and walking trail which is well used for recreation.

Known as Boblingen Way, it is one of the longest and best cycleways in Fife.

Thirsty Hippos. Stanley Bonnar joined the team of Glenrothes Town Artists and created the iconic concrete hippos. They are situated in several locations throughout the town. © Ian Sloan Photography
Thirsty Hippos by Stanley Bonnar © Ian Sloan

The town has three 18-hole golf courses at Markinch, Tanshall and Thornton; Leslie has a 9-hole course.

There is also a golfing academy at Tanshall and of course St Andrews, home of golf, is within easy reach.

Glenrothes was developed with large areas of open space.

Forest and grassland are popular for hiking, cycling, dog walking or playing games.

Local beaches provide many opportunities for watersports.

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