When staying in St Monans on the East Neuk of Fife it seemed bizarre not to walk some of the Fife Coastal Path (FCP) as it passed 10m from our cottage. The plan was to walk from Fife Ness along the Forth coast to Earlsferry. This can be done in a day if you start promptly. However, the Brat was staying with us and “prompt start” obviously means “any time before noon” in student-speak. So we ended up splitting it over two days but the join is so seamless that you’ll never notice the photos switching from dusk to foggy day…
We got dropped off at the Crail Golf Society 1 carpark and followed the track down to the coast to join the FCP at Fife Ness. There is an interesting old harbour complete with interpretation board, so things instantly look promising. We pass the lighthouse and coastguard station and then head west, or clockwise around Fife, passing Kilminning Castle which is actually a rock stack that apparently the RAF liked to bomb with flour during the war.
We then arrive in our first fishing village of the day: Crail. This is the one on every Scottish calendar and the subject of countless paintings getting flogged to the tourists. It is very quaint and the arrangement around the harbour just draws you in. There is also a very convenient shelter where we waited while the one shower of the day passed over.
Now we are heading for Anstruther passing some interesting cave and rock formations on the way. I had brought my binoculars along as you just never know what migrating bird might pop up along this coast. However, the only interesting flying thing we saw was a jumbo-jet getting closely escorted by a fighter jet right over our heads. Anstruther is the biggest village on the coast and has a different feel to Crail: it has a thriving leisure harbour and fish&chip emporia 2.
Our next village is Pittenweem and again it has a different feel while also being charming: this time its harbour is full of working fishing boats to supply the fish-suppers of Anstruther. At this point the sun drops below a layer of cloud and we are obviously going to be treated to a great sunset. So we head along the path towards St Monans and its lovely windmill hoping to get some photos. It was spectacular and continued as we ended up at the harbour in the village. Maybe it is because we are staying there but St Monans is our favourite of the villages on the East Neuk: it is charming, isn’t busy 3, and is still a living, working village.
The final leg is along the coast to Elie and Earlsferry. Those of you still awake will spot that the weather has changed and we are walking through an atmospheric fog with fog-horns wailing mournfully out in the Forth. The path on this stretch has high and low-tide variants: luckily we were at low-tide and so could skirt the coast – there is a cool indicator post that if the water reaches it then you should take the high-tide alternative route. It’s an easy saunter to Elie. Again the village has a different feel with lots of big houses for the retired or holidays. The village is wrapped around a lovely beach that we had to ourselves. Given the number of “No parking”, “No turning”, “Please go away” signs it is clearly not somewhere you want to go in holiday season. It was our least favourite village but it does have an interesting church and a great deli for lunch.
So an easy walk through beautiful, charming and varied villages with great views over the Forth. Just make sure you arrange for a stunning sunset for when you arrive at St Monans.
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