Craigtoun Country Park

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Craigtoun Country Park is a country park located approximately 4 miles to the south-west of St Andrews in the county of Fife, Scotland. It is currently owned by Fife Council, with park

The 'Dutch Village' at Craigtoun Country Park.

amenities being operated by the charitable organisation Friends of Craigtoun Park.[1] The park was originally part of the Mount Melville Estate, 47 acres (190,000 m2) of which was purchased by Fife Council for £25,000 in 1947.[2] A series of gardens of contrasting styles have been created around the park and are maintained by Fife Council gardeners all year round. The Cypress Walk consists of two parallel rows of cypress trees which lead up to the derelict Category B listed, Craigtoun Hospital,[3] once owned by the Younger family.

Craigtoun park train

The two ponds in the park were landscaped by the Younger family, which included construction of the 'Dutch Village', a series of small island in the centre of one of the ponds which are painted white and feature two turrets with small rooms. It is likely that this was used by the Younger family to entertain guests in the summer months. The park is ranked as the 7th best thing to do in St Andrews as of September 2013, according to Tripadvisor.[4]

History[edit]

The Mount Melville Estate, origianally called Craigtoun was one of the many Melville family estates, first established in 1698 for General George Melville of Strathkiness. In the late 18th Century General Robert Melville undertook much of the landscaping in the park; an account from 1790 mentions the purchase and planting of 230 trees. The house and grounds continued in Melville ownership until the beginning of the 20th Century. In 1901, the new owner Dr James Younger of the Younger brewing family commissioned Paul W. Waterhouse to design a new mansion house and landscape the park. He designed much of the fabric of the park which can now be seen, including formal gardens, a walled garden, Cypress avenue, rose garden, Italian garden and temple. In 1920 Waterhouse added a series of lakes and the picturesque Island village, now known as the 'Dutch Village'. A summerhouse was also added. In 1947 the house and grounds were purchased from the Melvilles for 25,000 pounds. Its name was changed to Craigtoun and the grounds established as Craigtoun Country Park. The Mansion became a maternity hospital, until 1992 when it was closed. The house is now being renovated by the Kohler group to be turned into a luxury development. The country park facilities were added to in 1940; when the bowling green, stage, miniature railway, putting green, and toilets. Over the years, more facilities have been added; including a children's zoo, a Countryside Rangers Centre, adventure playground, bouncy castle and cafe. Some of these facilities have since closed. In 2012 the Friends of Craigtoun was formed to work in partnership with Fife Council to run the amenities in the park, they reopened the park from the 2013 summer season with restored facilties along with a few new activities. They also returned some of the original rides to the park, including the 'Puffing Billy' tractor ride and Fairy Glen. It is hoped the success of this partnership will continue over the coming years.

Cypress Avenue, designed by Paul Waterhouse
Craigtoun's large grass lawns

Facilities[edit]

The park includes large expanses of grass. Of the two man made ponds one is used for rowing and pedal boats, the other is unused and is home to many mallards, moorhen and Mute swans. It also has picnic areas and benches along with a 'picnic hut' for parties.

Entry to the park is free and open on a daily basis during the summer season

the boats at Craigtoun Park

Attractions include crazy golf, rowing boats

Summer at the boating pond

pedaloes, adventure playground, trampolines, putting, bouncy castle, pedal cars, 'Puffin' Billy' vintage tractor and the Craigtoun Miniature Railway. The park also has a free nature trail available from the ticket office and four caches for Geocaching. There is also a 'fairy glen' to explore, a ruined temple, Italian garden, greenhouses, formal gardens and assorted other Victorian ornamental features. Every Saturday morning at 9:30 there is a free public 'Parkrun[5]' on a 5 km course around the park.

Flora and Fauna[edit]

The park is home to a variety of habitats and wildlife. Notably it has a pair of resident Mute Swans, affectionately known to staff as Gerald and Liz, whom in Spring 2013 hatched three signets which are yet to be named. There is also a resident Grey Heron named Henry. A feature of the park for many years had been the presence of a breeding pair of Muscovy ducks which were donated to the park by a local who no longer wished to look after them. Initially, six were present at the park; however, none remain as of 2013. The Dutch Village is home to a small colony of bats, the species of which is unknown. Assorted other wildlife can be seen around the park; including red squirrels, foxes, wild rabbits, various butterfly's, grey squirrels and one reported sighting of a water vole. The park covers many different habitats including woodland, parkland, marshland and lakes.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°19′05″N 2°50′28″W / 56.318°N 2.841°W / 56.318; -2.841