Category Archives: Fife Coastal Path

Fife Coastal Path – Dalgety Bay to Kirkcaldy

OK, I have to admit to being a bit of a fair weather hiker, at least where the hills are concerned. In the past, I’d decided to simply cancel plans if the weather was looking particularly nasty.

This year, I’ve decided that I won’t do that. If the weather is worse than I’d like, I’ll change the plans slightly and do something closer to home, and at low level. It’s a much better option than giving up on a day in the outdoors, that’s for sure!

To that end, a couple of weeks ago, when the worst of the wintry weather had hit, I decided to do a walk from my own front door. I have a small advantage, in that one of Scotland’s long distance walks is right on my doorstep. The Fife Coastal Path.

Basically, the route covers the entire coastline of Fife and is 117 miles long. I did a little 15 mile section 2 weeks ago.

We’ll start off from St David’s Harbour, which is the first place on the coastal path, as you arrive at Dalgety Bay (as the walk from my house to here ain’t very exciting!). It conveniently has a nice car park, and if anyone is planning on doing this walk for themselves, is also within 15-20 min walk from Dalgety Bay rail halt. The coastal path is signposted here, as it is at most stopping points along the way.

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You also get a great view of one of Scotland’s greatest landmarks (yes, I’m biased! Shoot me!), the Forth Bridge… A true engineering wonder!

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The path is quite clear, and as it passes through Dalgety Bay is a mix of trail and tarmac, but mostly trail. There are a few points along the way with some nice views, such as Seal Point, shown below (I’ve never seen a seal anywhere near it, so why it’s called that, I’ve no idea!)

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It doesn’t take long before you come to Dalgety Bay itself, which is fenced off, with some lovely warning signs…

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Yes, folks, I live in a town which has radioactive waste on the beach!

You know what, though? I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, and there’s nothing wrong with me! My dad and I used to dig bait here, and never had any issues eating the fish caught with it… The whole thing has been blown way out of proportion, as is always the case in this H&S era.

Just on the edge of Dalgety Bay, you reach St Bridget’s Kirk, a medieval church, which is maintained by Historic Scotland.

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Once past here, you walk up a small minor road, then join the path towards Aberdour.

This is quite a pleasant stretch of path, through reasonably open countryside and woodland

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After a mile or two, you arrive at Aberdour itself, and are immediately faced with the Woodside Hotel… The hotel more or less burnt down a few years ago, and they’ve done an amazing job in restoring it.

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The route now goes through the town itself, and down to the Black Sands beach, one of several seaside award beaches along the coastal path.

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The part then goes round, past the harbour and then up and along to a point

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The path then goes round to Silver Sands beach, yet another one winning a seaside award.

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And with that, you’ve effectively left Aberdour. You’re now on the path to Burntisland. This section of the route is also quite pleasant, staying close to the shore throughout, though with a railway line as a constant companion.

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Eventually, you arrive at Burntisland.

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For me, this is where the walk went through it’s least pleasant phase. Upon arrival into Burntisland, the way markers for the coastal path have had their direction arrows scrubbed out, but no alternatives in their place, so it’s a bit of guess work to find the right route through the town.
Luckily, it’s not rocket science… As long as you aim for the coast, you can’t really go wrong!
Burntisland has yet another award winning beach (yes, it seems everywhere in Fife, apart from Dalgety Bay is clean!)

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Sadly, once past the beach, my least favourite section of the whole walk appeared. Up until now, the sections between towns have been the most pleasant parts of the walk, but not so the section between Burntisland and Kinghorn!
It’s awful tarmac, all the way, on a path right beside a main road! Decidedly unpleasant, though fortunately, relatively short at about a mile.

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Once in Kinghorn, the path leads you down to yet another beach, though I’m not sure if this one has any awards…

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The lifeboat crew from the RNLI were out, doing some exercises with the coastguard helicopter, so I stopped for a couple of minutes to watch them in action.

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Then, it was a case of carrying on before the hail/snow got too much for me to bear!

The section between Kinghorn is actually my favourite part of the whole walk. It’s probably the longest uninhabited section of the whole walk and has some of the most interesting terrain. There’s a couple of wee bits of uphill and downhill here, as well as a few muddy sections, all of which work to get the blood flowing and make it that wee bit more entertaining!
There was also more rugged terrain and slightly more interesting things to see.

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Eventually, it had to end, though, and Kirkcaldy quickly appears, as does the end of my walk

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I think the idea of doing the simple, local walks when the weather is slightly less pleasant is a good one. If this year is even slightly like last year, I suspect I’ll have the complete coastal path walked before the end of the year. In a way, I’d really like to, too! There are other parts I’ve already walked, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come… I think next time I’ll walk in the other direction from home and see where I end up (I’d probably aim for Limekilns)

This walk in itself isn’t a bad walk. There’s enough there to keep the interest for most of the walk… The only exception is the section between Burntisland and Kinghorn, but in honesty, I’m not sure there’s a way round it…
It’s definitely a good way to kill 5 hours of a day, though, and it at least prevents the day becoming a waste. With a train station at either end, it’s quite good, too.

Walk Report: Newport to St Andrews

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.