The Elie to Cambo (also known as Kingsbarns) can be rough underfoot. It is full of geological, historical and wildlife interest, but it also includes several short sections of stone steps that may be uneven or slippy. It will also lead you through quaint little fishing villages. Stout footwear is essential, particularly in winter. Allow 5 – 6 hours.
The Elie to St Monans section begins Ruby Bay, once a site famous for Red Garnet gemstones. Follow the path, taking a recommended and short detour to Elie Lighthouse and Lady Tower built for Lady Janet Anstruther as a summer house in the 1760s.
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.
Pass the restored St. Monans Windmill, once used to pump seawater into the adjacent salt pans. The limestone beds here are rich in fossils. The next village of Pittenweem is Fife’s only working fishing harbour and is the site of a cave used by St Fillan in the 7th century.
Skirt the golf course and the rocky shore past Billow Ness to the four old Royal Burghs which constitute Anstruther. This popular tourist village is noted for its award-winning fish and chips, Scottish Fisheries Museum and the Reaper, a herring drifter built in 1900 and used in the filming of the hugely popular Outlander series. From Anstruther, there are daily boat trips during the summer months to the Isle of May nature reserve.
Pass through Cellardyke, with its picturesque harbour, towards Crail and onto open pasture. Livestock may be present in this area so please proceed with caution. Caiplie Caves are a prominent weathered sandstone feature situated almost halfway between Cellardyke and Crail. The route continues past an old salt works before winding its way via some stone steps to Crail, a traditional fishing village with a 17th-century harbour.
The Path leading onto Fife Ness is challenging in places with narrower and altogether rougher terrain. It passes through the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Kilminning Coast Wildlife Reserve and users should note that sheep and cattle graze the area at certain times of the year.
You are now at the most easterly point in Fife and the path passes King Constantine’s Cave where he was killed in around 874. Beyond the golf course, the route continues along the shore beneath the Randerston cliffs. Walkers should wait for low tide before attempting this section. The path then leads to a bridge over Cambo Burn then continues along a sandy track through the dunes. An alternative route follows Kingsbarns beach.
The Cambo Sands (also known as Kingsbarns Beach) to Leuchars part of the Fife Coastal Path follows a beautiful stretch of coast over some rough terrain. The coastal path is tidal in places so please check tides before setting off and be aware that dogs should be kept under control as livestock will be present in some areas.
The section of path from Kingsbarns to Boarhills is rough and may be muddy in winter. The route hugs the coastal slope between rocky shore and farmland from where it descends to the beach and continues to Babbet Ness.
The next section from Boarhills to St Andrew’s may be the roughest of the whole route and should be walked only at low tide.
Buddo Rock is a prominent geological feature, an impressive stack of pink sandstone. Further along the same section, you will find the Rock and Spindle, the weathered remains of a volcanic plug.
Walkers should note that during the winter months cattle are grazed on this section of the path causing the area to become very muddy. The path leaves the beach and climbs a flight of steps to Kinkell Ness and descends to East Sands, St Andrews, a popular spot for watersports enthusiasts.
There are two route options here, either over the cliffs and past St Andrews Castle or through the town with its many attractions.
Follow the path behind the Old Course Hotel and the Fife Cycle Way along the road to Guardbridge. A footpath leads to Coble Shore point with outstanding views of the Eden Estuary Nature Reserve. Guardbridge is the lowest bridging point on the River Eden, dating from 1419, and once a busy harbour. The Eden Visitor Centre overlooks the upper estuary, a wildfowl hotspot and Site of Special Scientific Interest and well worth a visit.
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