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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (15)
From:  North Queensferry (NT131804)
To:  Kirkcaldy (NT296943)
Via:  Cowdenbeath
Distance:  19.6 miles (31.5 km)
Meets:  Pier, A90, B980, A921, B916, B925, B917, A909, B920, B9149, B921, B922, A92, A910, A915, A921
Former Number(s):  A90, A910
Highway Authorities


Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
B981 North Queensferry - Cowdenbeath
(A909) Cowdenbeath - Lumphinnans
B981 Lumphinnans - Dothan
(A910) Dothan - Chapel
B981 Chapel - Kirkcaldy
This article is about the current B981 in Fife.
For the former B981 across Maryculter Bridge in Aberdeenshire, see B981 (Peterculter)

The B981 is a winding B-road in south Fife which has been bodged together from bits of other routes.


Queensferry - Crossgates

The B981 in North Queensferry

The route begins in North Queensferry by the old town pier, not, bizarrely, the ferry pier that once allowed A90 traffic to cross the Forth to South Queensferry. It then winds north through the village on Main Street and Main Road to pass under the A9000, Forth Road Bridge approach. The cables for the new Queensferry Crossing then come into view above the roadside wall, but trying to get a good view of either bridge from the road is not easy. A much better view can be obtained by turning into the hotel car park, although this is no longer signed as a viewpoint.

A couple of bends later the B981 passes under the M90 Queensferry Crossing approaches and reaches a signalised crossroads which is now the entrance to Rosyth Docks and Industrial areas. Turning right here, a short section of Dual Carriageway / S4 leads past the signalised junction for the B980 and on to Ferrytoll Junction on the M90. The dual carriageway continues briefly beyond the roundabout, past the Park and Ride site and under the railway approach to the Forth Bridge before narrowing down as Hope Street leading in to Inverkeithing. The route passes back under the railway at the entrance to this historic town, which for centuries was the gateway to the ferries and so Edinburgh. Hope Street becomes High Street at a mini roundabout and widens out into the old market place, now used for car parking.

The Dales Road, south of Crossgates

After passing the old church, the road becomes Church Street and crosses another mini roundabout as it heads north out of town past the station. The A921 is then crossed at a pair of roundabouts forming a sort of dumbbell junction across the railway. The route soon starts to climb as it winds up the hill to Fordell Crossroads, a staggered junction where the B916 crosses with a short multiplex. For a few years in the late 1960s this was the temporary terminus of the M90. Continuing north, two long straights lead through the fields, still climbing gently, to reach Crossgates. Inverkeithing Road leads past modern housing to a staggered, partially signalised junction with the B925 in the centre of the village. Main Street continues north through the older part of the village before crossing the dualled A92 (accessed from the B925) and then the railway.

Crossgates - Lochgelly

A sweeping right hander then leads to the forked junction with the A917, which continues north along the western edge of Cowdenbeath, while the B981 heads north east into the town centre. After passing a few houses, the road seems to head back into the countryside, with a field and woodland, but at the end of a long straight, the route kinks left onto the very urban Broad Street. This passes a mixture of twentieth century housing, some set back behind service roads, before crossing another railway bridge and dropping gently into the town centre, meeting the A909 at a mini roundabout on the High Street. The two routes then multiplex north, passing under the railway next to the station, and continuing round a sweeping double bend onto Perth Road.

The B981 resumes at the next roundabout, where it turns right onto Lochgelly Road, quickly becoming Main Street as it passes through Lumphinnans. This formerly separate village is now the urban link between Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly, the golf course on the south side of the road being the only hint at countryside. The interwar ribbon development of Viewfield Terrace leads into Lochgelly and Lumphinnans Road, which continues east as Main Street into the town centre. Here the route turns north onto Bank Street, past the shops to a mini roundabout where it TOTSOs right onto Auchterderran Road, with the B920 continuing ahead. A modern roundabout on the edge of the town is the junction for the short B9149 which heads south to a junction on the A92 dual carriageway.

Lochgelly - Kirkcaldy

Passing through Cardenden

After over 5 miles of running through towns and villages, the B981 is now back in open countryside and follows a long straight down hill before curving round to cross the River Ore at Bow Bridge. A few bends then lead into Jamphlars, another former village which is now the western edge of the Auchterderran - Cardenden urban area. Jamphlars Road leads to a mini roundabout where the B981 turns south east onto Main Street, while the B921 heads north east towards Glenrothes. In the centre of Auchterderran, a double bend by the shops leads onto Station Road, which re-crosses the River Ore on Bowhill Bridge to enter Cardenden. The B981 then swings round to the left onto Cardenden Road, while Station Road continues ahead. The town is almost split in half by the deep wooded gorge of the Den Bun, so Station Road serves the western portion - Dundonald - while Cardenden Road serves Cardenden itself.

After passing under the railway, the B981 winds along the northern edge of the housing estates before heading out across fields once more. A block of forestry sits to the north just before the tiny village of Cluny, where the route swings south at a mini roundabout with the B922. A couple of short straights then lead down to meet the A92 and A910 at Chapel Junction on the northern edge of Kirkcaldy. After a brief multiplex with the dualled A910 it resumes its eastbound course at Chapel Roundabout as Chapel Level, passing the retail park and sprawling modern housing estates. The road is dualled, with several roundabouts providing access to the housing, and only a handful of older properties facing directly onto the road.

The relatively new Dunnikier Estate Roundabout marks the end of the dual carriageway and Dunnikier Way continues east, through some wooded parkland. The dual carriageway resumes at the next roundabout, with an industrial area on the north side of the road, and more housing to the south, the route finally terminating at the Gallatown Roundabout with the A921 and A915.


The B981 is a real Frankenstein's monster of a road, stitched together from bits of redesignated roads and tagged with a name exhumed from darkest Aberdeenshire. No one would ever need to drive from one end to the other in one go, and the M90 and A92 provide faster and better alternatives for almost all of the medium length journeys that the B981 could fulfil. It is therefore best views as a series of local routes which all carry the same number.

The route from North Queensferry to Cowdenbeath mostly follows the line of the old A90, the main deviation being around Ferrytoll Junction, where the bridge approaches have been built over the original road. The section from Cowdenbeath to Kirkcaldy, including Chapel Level, was the meandering original course of the A910, and the final section along Dunnikier Way to Gallatown is a heavily upgraded B926, which was briefly numbered as the A988 before the new A92 route was built. The B981 first came into existence in 1964 with the opening of the Forth Road Bridge, and initially applied to the section from Queensferry to the M90 temporary terminus at Fordell Crossroads. When the motorway was extended a few years later, so was the B981, into Cowdenbeath where the A909 was extended over the next section of the former A90.

With the coming of the new A92 East Fife Regional Road in the 1980s, the old A910 route was no longer required to be an A road, and as such was downgraded. For some reason, it was deemed appropriate to extend the B981 number along it, and the short lived A988, creating the rather convoluted route that we have today.

Being the old routes of some fairly important A roads, the B981 could be expected to have seen many upgrades over the years. However, The Forth Road Bridge and M90 projects were conceived in the late 1950s, at the time that other major A roads were being upgraded, so as a result there was no significant upgrades to the A90 prior to the opening of the motorway. The route had, of course, been widened in the past, but this was in the 1920s and 30s when traffic was lighter and slower, so most of the widening was online. The A910, as a less important route which spent over half its time passing through towns and villages, was also not prioritised for any substantial improvements.

As a result, the main changes to the current route of the B981 over its predecessor routes from 1922 are at the ends. The construction of the two bridges over the Forth make it almost impossible to give any meaningful description of the original route of the A90 between Queensferry and Inverkeithing. In Kirkcaldy, both ends of the old B926 were changed prior to the route being renumbered as the A988. The original route had followed the loop of Rosemount Avenue around the Dunnikier Estate Roundabout at the west end, while at the east end it forked right along Oswald Road to reach the A921.

Related Pictures
View gallery (15)
B981 - Geograph - 1385558.jpgBend - Geograph - 372218.jpgCardenden - Geograph - 187536.jpgThe B981 heading for Crossgates in Fife - Geograph - 1825737.jpgBends for half a mile - Geograph - 42290.jpg
Other nearby roads
Forth Road Bridge
NCN1 • A90 • A92 • A823(M) • A904 • A921 • A985 • A8000 • A9000 • B800 • B907 • B924 • B980 • E15 • E32 (Old System) • EuroVelo 12 • Fife Coastal Tourist Route • Forth Valley Tourist Route • M9 • M90 • T93 (Britain)
NCN76 • A92 • A907 • A910 • A915 • A921 • A955 • A988 • B922 • B924 (Kirkcaldy) • B925 • B926 • B927 • B928 • B929 • B9157 • C48 (Fife) • C91 (Fife) • C92 (Fife) • C93 (Fife) • C94 (Fife) • C95 (Fife) • C96 (Fife) • C97 (Fife) • C98 (Fife) • C100 (Fife) • Fife Coastal Tourist Route • T92 (Britain)
B900 – B999
B900 • B901 • B902 • B903 • B904 • B905 • B906 • B907 • B908 • B909 • B910 • B911 • B912 • B913 • B914 • B915 • B916 • B917 • B918 • B919
B920 • B921 • B922 • B923 • B924 • B925 • B926 • B927 • B928 • B929 • B930 • B931 • B932 • B933 • B934 • B935 • B936 • B937 • B938 • B939
B940 • B941 • B942 • B943 • B944 • B945 • B946 • B947 • B948 • B949 • B950 • B951 • B952 • B953 • B954 • B955 • B956 • B957 • B958 • B959
B960 • B961 • B962 • B963 • B964 • B965 • B966 • B967 • B968 • B969 • B970 • B971 • B972 • B973 • B974 • B975 • B976 • B977 • B978 • B979
B980 • B981 • B982 • B983 • B984 • B985 • B986 • B987 • B988 • B989 • B990 • B991 • B992 • B993 • B994 • B995 • B996 • B997 • B998 • B999
Former versions: B902 • B906 • B907(W) • B907(E) • B911 • B912 • B924(E) • B924(W) • B937 • B944 • B947
B953 • B963 • B969 • B973 • B974 • B975 • B976 • B978 • B980 • B981 • B983 • B984 • B985 (1) • B985 (2) • B987 • B988 • B991 • B995 • B996 • B998

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