Letham Glen, Leven

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright May 2019, Bill Kasman; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.


Letham Glen is a public park on the outskirts of the Fife town of Leven LinkExternal link In the 18th century it was part of the Durie Estate and was named 'Sillerhole Den'. In later years it became known as 'Spinky Den' (Spinky is an old Scots word for a primrose).
It was renamed 'Letham Glen' after John Letham of Lower Largo who donated monies to the Town Council to pay for the lease of 'Spinkie Den' from its then landowner. It was given its current name in 1925 to commemorate this gift and is now owned by the Local Authority.

During the Great Depression of the 1920s, unemployed miners were engaged to build an outdoor swimming pool (which, after WWII was made into a sunken garden which is still a major feature of the park). There is an impressive triumphal archway (a listed building) accessed from the Scoonie Roundabout where the A915 leaves town heading towards the East Neuk LinkExternal link The archway bears the date 1925 and is the only vehicular entrance to the park with a large car park situated just inside the archway.

As well as tranquil woodland walks the park has play areas for all ages and levels of fitness, a craft centre, a pond (and the sunken garden) as well as open areas of grass for an impromptu game of football or rounders or just for youngsters to run free and throw a frisbee! The car park and adjacent toilets are free and there are many picnic tables and benches to be found in strategic places. The Scoonie Burn tumbles its way through the park adding interest to the area and somewhere for youngsters to paddle on a hot day. The woodlands in the park and alongside the burn are hundreds of years old with many mature examples of native trees including sycamore and beech. The northern part of the park is quite wild and natural and lots of wildlife species have been recorded - red fox, roe deer, red squirrel, several species of bats, great spotted woodpeckers and many more. There are even rumours of otters and brown trout being seen in the burn!

In bygone days Letham Glen had a variety of animal so-called 'attractions'. There were at one time or another goats, rabbits, foxes, guinea pigs, chickens and more living in various cages, hutches and pens but, in 2001, the decision was taken by the Local Authority to close all such facilities in Fife. Coincidentally, that was the year in which Letham Glen's biggest animal attraction died - Hercules The Bear along with his owners Andy and Maggie Robin were regular visitors during the 80s and 90s and every time they appeared the park was crowded LinkExternal link Many people, both residents and visitors to Leven, remember Hercules' appearances with fondness and the thrill of getting up close to such a huge beast! Rather sadly, today's culture of 'elf 'n' safety precludes a repeat of anything like that.

A Scottish Tourist Board 3-star attraction, Letham Glen was one of seven Fife Council parks to be given a Green Flag award in 2018 by Keep Scotland Beautiful - a benchmark standard for excellence in parks and green spaces. In the whole of Scotland only 71 parks have achieved Green Flag status. The Glen (as it is known locally) continues to be a valuable resource for the town of Leven.

Dogs are welcome in the park but please clean up behind them!





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