Autumn is a great time to get outdoors and explore Fife on foot and the well-trodden Fife Coastal Path which runs for 117 miles from the Forth Bridge to the Tay Bridge provides lots of variety. Here’s a handy list for some of our favourite walks ranging from relaxing coastal strolls to more challenging hikes. What they all share are stunning views, beautiful landscapes and great places to stop and enjoy the outlook.
Elie to Crail
An 11 mile stretch of shoreline that takes in five small fishing villages. From the southern most village of Elie, through St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther, and ending in the last village of Crail in the north. this section of the coast is peppered with interesting castles, caves, lighthouses a windmill and the arch-windowed tower where 18th-century beauty Lady Anstruther would strip off for her daily swim. It’s a walk we know you will love!
Elie to St Monans
If you wanted to do a shorter walk and much smaller section of the Fife Coastal Path, Elie to St Monans is approximately 5 miles in length and takes just 1 ½ hours. It’s a pretty flat walk but offers some of the best views of the coastline. Park at Ruby Bay, once a site famous for Red Garnet gemstones and follow the path taking a recommended short detour to Elie Lighthouse and Lady’s Tower. Further on are the ruins of Ardross and Newark Castles. The route from here to St Monans has a high tide diversion which borders fields, crosses a bridge and rejoins the low tide route near the stunning 14th century St Monans Church.
Once you get to St Monans, walk down and around the harbour to the eastern edge, where you will find the East Pier Smokehouse. This is a great place to stop for refreshments. They sell the very best, local seafood for takeaway, or you can eat upstairs in the wee café (it also has an outdoor deck). Do check the website for opening hours.
East Sands St Andrews to The Castle Course Club House
Park at the East Sands beach car park and join the Fife Coastal Path that leads you East away from town, heading uphill on the Kinkell Brae. Stay on the footpath for a mile or so until you reach the Castle Course. The clubhouse isn’t just for golfers it’s a good spot for a cold drink, with stunning views back towards St Andrews.
Hill of Tarvit
You can park at the house car park (pay and display) and if you want, visit the house and gardens, but the secret here is to take the walk up to the top of the hill to the North. It’s not that steep and not too far, but once at the top you have views to the North towards the Tay, as well as back to the south towards St Andrews.
The Chain Walk – Elie
This is one of our favourites and is often mentioned when we recommend places to visit. Park by the beach at Earlsferry (at the eastern end of Elie). There are two ways to do it, depending on the tides. With the tide low, you can take the chain walk heading west to its end, and then head up the cliff path to the right which will lead to back towards where you started. At the top of the cliffs you will find the old WWII gun implements – used to cover the entry to the Firth of Forth – and as you might guess, the views are superb, either back up the coast or across to East Lothian. The other way to do it is simply in reverse. Remember to check what the tide is doing or you risk getting stuck!
St Andrews Links and West Sands, St Andrews
This walk gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs on the famous sands featured in the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ before passing through the Eden Estuary nature reserve. You will then end up on a track that goes between the famous golf courses, with great views of St Andrews’ iconic medieval buildings. The terrain on this walk varies from sandy beach to narrow dunes and surfaced paths. It’s a great walk but you need to be careful not to get cut off by the tide on the end of West Sands. The distance is approximately 4 1/2 miles, which will take you around two to two and a half hours to complete. Start at the North Haugh car park, St Andrews.
The Lomond Hills
The central part of Fife is dominated by the shapely Lomond Hills which is designated a Regional Park and contains the highest point in the Kingdom. If you’re looking for a walk that is longer and a bit more challenging, a 424m vantage point at the top of this walk is well worth the effort.
Start at Craigmead car park at the top of the hill road between Leslie and Falkland. Cross over the road and head up the track with a green and yellow barrier across it. A sign points the way to ‘East Lomond 1 ¼ miles’. The path climbs steeply from the road before bending to the left and levels out after 5 or 10 minutes on the Lomond Hills plateau. To your left are huge views north stretching across the Howe of Fife to Auchermuchty, and beyond into upland Perthshire and the Cairngorms.
Follow the path all the way along the plateau until, just before the path bends sharply to the right, you come to a metal swing gate on your left. Go through the gate and turn sharply right, and then follow the dirt/grass path uphill. This path will now take you all the way to the top of East Lomond. For the first ten minutes or so the path climbs gently across the moorland and grass, but before long you find the steepness increasing as you start up the hill. If you prefer an easier route up, ignore the faint grassy paths that take the direct line straight up the hill and instead veer left along a well-worn path.
Eventually you emerge onto the summit ridge and the views north open up. Carry on up to the summit, immediately below you can see Falkland, some 350m lower down and on a clear day the views north stretch all the way to Braeriach and Lochnagar in the Cairngorms. To the east you can see Dundee and along the Angus coast towards Arbroath. To the south you can see the Firth of Forth, the Bass Rock, Edinburgh, all three Forth bridges and, if you’re lucky all the way to St Abbs Head just a stone’s throw from the English border. Looking west, back the way you came, you can see West Lomond, Schiehallion and much of Perthshire.
Don’t descend in the direction of Falkland. Instead head southeast in the direction of the obvious aerials / transmitters to meet the main path coming up the hill from the aerials car park. When you reach a fence, go through the metal gate and continue down the path, past the aerials and then into the car park. Turn right and walk to the far end of the car park, where you’ll see another green and yellow barrier across a path. Follow this mostly level path as it skirts around the edge of East Lomond. ½ mile on from the aerials car park you reach a sharp left bend above an old lime kiln, and find yourself back at the swinging metal gate (now on your right) that you went through earlier. Continue along the long straight path back to Craigmead. The walk takes around 2 hours.
Leave us a comment or tweet us to let us know which of our walks you enjoyed and what you find on your adventures.