The beautiful Fife Coastal Path stretches for 117 miles from the Forth Bridge in the south to the Tay Estuary in the north, winding past award-winning beaches, wildlife reserves and picturesque towns. With sweeping views of the Firth of Forth rolled out right beside you, it’s a truly wonderful coastal walk.
Here’s what I thought of my first Fife Coastal Path experience, walking the section between Elie and Pittenweem in the scenic East Neuk.
We joined the long distance trail at the Lady’s Tower in Ruby Bay, Elie; dark clouds dancing between shards of light in the distance. With our toddler strapped to my husband’s back, we set off towards St Monans, enjoying the easy, relatively flat trail and the atmospheric light gathered around the Isle of May.
Soon the ruins of Newark Castle loomed ahead (I loved that there are such interesting buildings dotted along the path, from castle ruins to windmills). The 15th century castle ruins have been left to gaze out to sea from the cliff edge, like a lonely watch guard.
There is nothing like seeing the incredibly beautiful East Neuk villages for the first time from the coast itself, rounding the corner to see a cluster of brightly coloured houses hunched around the shore. We followed the low tide path past the 14th century St Monan’s Church, but there is a high tide alternative.
I was utterly charmed by St Monans, especially as one of my first sights was of the Welly Boot Garden. The sun beamed down for our arrival in the village, and I soaked up the pretty seaside scenery and the lines of characterful houses.
An hour’s walk was quite enough for my equally tired husband and toddler, and after packing them onto a bus back to Elie I returned to the harbour to photograph to my heart’s content. I then continued on my coastal path exploration, with only the Firth of Forth for company.
After leaving St Monans you soon arrive at an old windmill, a reminder of its salt industry. The restored 18th century windmill was once used to pump salt water into the salt pans.
The sun was shining brightly as I walked between St Monans and Pittenweem, but the dark clouds that had lurked in the distance started to quicken their pace, chasing me along the last stretch.
With the path hugging the coastline so closely, it really is the most peaceful walk with pretty rock formations and patterns. I was amazed to discover, as I neared Pittenweem, that nestled in the lines of rock was a tidal outdoor swimming pool, a souvenir from the 1950s.
Forgetting my race against the rain clouds, I stopped in my tracks when Pittenweem came into view. Basking in the sun’s rays, the lines of red-roofed and white-washed houses was a truly lovely sight.
Feeling a bit like I was on a film set, I walked into Pittenweem’s West Shore. This scenic and historic fishing village is a delight to explore, with its pretty harbour and gorgeous cottages.
Luckily I was able to explore Pittenweem before the rain clouds finally caught up with me. It wasn’t until we headed in the direction of the wonderful Cocoa Tree Cafe for a well-deserved hot chocolate and steaming bowl of chorizo and bean soup (both highly recommended) that the rain began to fall.
The walk from Elie took me about two hours and I would have loved to see what treasures were waiting around the corner on route to Anstruther and further on to Crail. I can’t wait to find out next time.