On Saturday, I decided to take a walk from Newport-on-Tay to St Andrews. I basically followed the Fife Coastal Path along the way – the Route is also mentioned in Walk Highlands (though I did it in reverse, effectively)
The walk started out at Newport, at the car park directly next to the Tay Bridge. From there, simply cross the road and follow all of the signs for the Fife Coastal Path.
It was a rather stunning morning on Saturday morning, although there was still a residual haze (this would be burnt off quickly enough). As there was so little wind, the Tay Estuary looked quite calm and impressive. As a result, Dundee looked pretty good from this side of the water
The walk continues along next to the main road for a little while, but after what looked (and smelled!) like some sewage works, it does veer away as it heads towards Tayport. Despite being next to a main road, this was still quite nice. The farmland between the path and the Tay was reasonably full of wildlife, with Lapwing and Pied Wagtail all over, and the occasional Skylark singing overhead.
It’s not long before you approach Tayport, and the first sight as you approach is the Lighthouse (shown below)
The little bits of woodland on either side of the path along here played host to quite a few bird species, too, with Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Great Tit and Blue Tit all seen, and Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds all heard singing away.
After walking into Tayport a bit, it doesn’t take too long before you reach the Harbour. As the water was so calm, it was looking pretty stunning, it has to be said!
The walk through Tayport from here was pretty uneventful. On leaving Tayport, the route takes you through Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. For those with an interest in Wildlife, this is one of the best locations in Fife for biodiversity. Almost as soon as I entered Tayport Heath, I noticed the Common Dog Violet in Flower. (shown below) This is the main food plant of both the Dark Green Fritillary and Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, which can both be found here later in the year.
The walk through Tentsmuir is the longest individual section of the whole walk, and for me, it was easily the most interesting. I managed to see Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies, an Orange Day-flying moth, which I was unable to identify (I’m considering a return trip this weekend to see if I can identify it). There was also lots of Green Shield Bugs. Plenty to keep the budding naturalist occupied!
It took me at least an hour and a half to walk through Tentsmuir. As you leave, you have to walk along the road which takes you to the Kinshaldy car park. I didn’t actually mind this, as it can be quite picturesque, with trees on either side of the road.
Once out of Tentsmuir, the walk takes you towards Leuchars. There is a section where you have to walk on a boardwalk, over a bog. I have to admit, this made me a little uneasy. I’m not the lightest person in the world. I’ve lost a fair chunk of weight since I started walking to prepare for the West Highland Way, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m 6′ 4″ tall, and pretty darn broad at the shoulder. I felt the boardwalk was just a little too flimsy, and a good few of the boards were a bit too keen to bend under my feet. I deliberately switched my iPod on at this point, so that I couldn’t hear any sounds of cracking wood, in case they happened!
Once the boardwalk had been endured, the next test was Leuchars itself. There’s nothing like being stared at by men with guns to make you increase your pace! Walking past the entrance to the airbase was quite interesting… you definitely got the sensation that you were being watched (which is a good thing – I’d rather they DID watch people, really!)
Next stop was Guardbridge. Not the most exciting town in the world, though the bridge over the River Eden always provides good views. There were still plenty of waders feeding on the mud, including Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher. The remains of the first bridge were looking good, too.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is Interpretation boards. On the walk, there were several boards, with bits of information about the area. I’d strongly recommend taking time to stop and read them, as they’re quite informative. After all, without them, I wouldn’t now be able to tell you that the original bridge was last used in 1966, by train!
After walking through Guardbridge, I stopped for 5 mins at a small picnic spot next to the main road. Yet again, plenty of butterflies about. The weather really was perfect for them!
The final stretch from Guardbridge to St Andrews was a little uninspiring, I have to say. It basically involves walking along a tarmac cycle path next to the main road into St Andrews. Tarmac is not my favourite walking surface, particularly in hiking boots. I can imagine it’s great for the cyclists, but for me it was more than a little uncomfortable. Add the fact that you’ve got a main road on one side of you and a golf course on the other (And I find golf incredibly dull – you don’t need a ball and a stick to go for a walk!), I was glad when the walk ended at St Andrews.
All in all, though, it was a good walk, with plenty of nice scenery and lots of wildlife. I’d definitely do the walk again, though I suspect in the future I’ll probably stop at Guardbridge, rather than walking the final 4 miles to St Andrews.