The Fife Coastal Path explores a landscape of dramatic cliffs, hidden bays, wildlife-rich grasslands and forests, golden beaches, picturesque harbors, ancient caves, and countless castle ruins.
As the trail winds its way for 116 miles (187 kilometers) between the Forth and Tay estuaries, you experience an ever-changing landscape; with modern and centuries-old industry contrasting wonderfully with the classic coast and countryside you would expect.
History is everywhere along this trail, with each period leaving its own relics for you to discover. Whether it is the Wemyss Caves and their prehistoric wall carvings, the abundant 15th century castles, 18th century coal yards and salt mills, and much more besides, there is always something to take you back in time.
For the most part, the walking is flat along the Coastal Path and the paths are well-maintained and clearly waymarked. There are a few challenging sections and some parts that can only be completed at low tide. Follow the link below to check tide times.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about this trail is the exhilarating Elie Chainwalk. On this epic two-hour challenge, you scramble along cliff sides; clinging onto chains attached to the cliffs. If this does not sound like your thing, though, don’t worry—it is optional.
In this Collection, we split the Fife Coastal Path into eight stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Larbert railway station, which is served by direct trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh and has connecting services around the UK. You would then need to catch X27 bus service to Kincardine.
To get home, you would need to catch either the 94 bus service to Ladybank railway station (choose this for Edinburgh connections), or the 36 bus service to Perth railway station (better for Glasgow), depending on where your ultimate destination is. Both have good links around the UK
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Kincardine.
To get back, you would need to catch the 36 bus from Newburgh to Glenrothes and then the X24 bus service back to Kincardine. Alternatively, you could find long-stay parking in Edinburgh and follow the public transport instructions above.
For more information about the Fife Coastal Path, visit: fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk.
For tide times, visit: bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables/7.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
For the X27 bus timetable, visit: stagecoachbus.com/routes/east-scotland/x27/glasgow-leven/xhax027.o.
For the 94 bus timetable, visit: stagecoachbus.com/routes/east-scotland/94/st-andrews-newburgh/xhco094.i.
For the 36 bus timetable, visit: stagecoachbus.com/routes/east-scotland/36/perth-glenrothes/xhbo036.i.
For the X24 bus timetable, visit: bustimes.org/services/x24-glasgow-airport-st-andrews.
This first stage of the Fife Coastal Path affords an unusual mix of industry, heritage, and wildlife-rich countryside.
From Kincardine, you head inland through farmland and will see Longannet Power Station, the last coal-fired power station in Scotland, on your right.
The trail rejoins the waterside and brings you to the Royal Burgh of Culross; a picturesque, colorful, and historic little village.
There is lots to see in the village, especially Culross Palace; a 16th century merchant’s house with delightful gardens.
You skirt along the northern edge of Torry Bay Nature Reserve, past the village of Torryburn and the Defense Munitions Crombie and onto Charlestown.
In Charlestown Harbor, you will see the remains of 14 limekilns, a reminder that this quiet town was once a hub of industry in the 18th century.
From there, it is a short step to the village of Limekilns, where this stage finishes. There are a few accommodation options in the area, as well as places to eat and drink.
With crumbling castles, iconic symbols of Scottish engineering, picturesque beaches, and nature reserves, the variety truly is abundant on this stage.
From Limekilns, you emerge into farmland and will see the enormous HM Naval Base on your right. On the outskirts of the base are the ruins of Rosyth Castle, which was built in 1450.
The trail then passes underneath Forth Road Bridge and the iconic Forth Bridge, which was the longest single cantilever bridge in the world when it opened in 1890 and is seen as a symbol of Scottish engineering prowess.
You then hike through Carlingnose Point Nature Reserve and the towns of Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay before the trail emerges into farmland again.
A short time later you reach Aberdour. The village is home to the Aberdour Castle, which has parts dating to 1200 and is one of the two oldest castles in Scotland, along with Castle Sween.
The trail then passes the picturesque Silversands Beach and follows the shoreline to Burntisland, where this stage finishes.
Burntisland has a range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
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Haunted ruins, ancient caves, pretty harbors, and plenty of heritage make this an interesting stage.
From Burntisland, the trail follows the shoreline to Kinghorn, and onto Linktown and Kirkcaldy. If you are attempting this section at high tide, you will have to follow the inland trail.
You soon pass the enchanting ruins of Ravenscraig Castle. Dating from around 1460, the castle is an early example of artillery defense and is a scheduled monument.
A short time later you reach Dysart, which has a picturesque and vibrant harbor. From there, you skirt along the edge of Chapel Wood to West Wemyss.
When you reach Wemyss, you will find six caves on the coastline; many of which have ancient carvings on the walls that are of immense historical importance, the earliest of which date to the Bronze Age.
From there, it is worth the climb to see MacDuff’s Castle. Be warned, though, these atmospheric 11th century ruins are said to be haunted by the Grey Lady, who has also been spotted around the caves, too.
The trail then passes through Buckhaven to finish in the town of Methil, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage passes a picturesque beach, explores a rare grassland nature reserve, and has an exhilarating chain walk along cliffs.
As you leave the industrial and urbanized areas of Methil and Leven behind, you step onto the vast expanse of Leven Beach, with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters.
You continue along the beach (at high tide you will have to follow the inland trail) to Lundin Links. When you leave Lower Largo, you soon emerge into Dumbarnie Links Nature Reserve.
This nature reserve is a rare lime-rich dune grassland that provides a habitat for nearly 2,000 species, including 1,200 insects, a wide variety of birds, and many rare wildflowers.
When you reach Kincraig Point, you can either hike up onto the cliffs or attempt the Elie Chainwalk; an exhilarating scramble along a series of chains attached to the cliffs.
The scramble, which takes around two hours to complete, requires a good level of agility, confidence, fitness, technical ability, and a definite spirit of adventure.
The chainwalk becomes completely submerged at high tide so must be completed at low tide. For more information on tide times, visit: bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables/7.
This stage finishes in the town of Earlsferry, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Coastal views, historic ruins, and a rough terrain dominate this stunning stage.
From Elie, you walk around Sauchar Point, passing Elie Ness Lighthouse and the ruins of Lady’s Tower, a viewpoint built in 1770 for Lady Janet Anstruther.
A little further along the coast you reach Newark Castle, an atmospheric ruin that dates to around the 15th century.
The trail continues past St Monans and, once the village is behind you, takes you right alongside St Monans Windmill, which produced salt from seawater during the 17th and 18th centuries.
You continue along the coast past Pittenweem, Fife’s only working fishing harbor, and Cellardyke.
When you reach the former royal burgh of Crail, the trail heads inland through fields and returns to the coast just below the village of Kingsbarns, where this stage finishes.
Kingsbarns has some options for accommodation and places to eat and drink.
This stage explores a breathtakingly-beautiful stretch of the Fife Coastal Path.
The terrain along this stage can be challenging in places and includes some tidal sections. As such, you should check the tide times before you start.
From Kingsbarns, you return to the coastline and hike north. At the Kenly Water estuary, you follow the river inland for one mile (one-and-a-half kilometers), then hike past the hamlet of Boarhills.
The section between Boarhills and St Andrews is probably the most challenging of the entire Coastal Path and should only be attempted at low tide. For tide times, visit: bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables/7.
Once you arrive in St Andrews, there is plenty to see and do. Highlights in the town include St Andrews Castle and Cathedral, which can be visited together.
From St Andrews, the trail heads inland through farmland and crosses the River Eden. Once you have crossed the river, you emerge onto Eden Estuary Nature Reserve; a rich intertidal mud and sand flat that is home to myriad wildlife and plantlife.
This stage finishes in the small town of Leuchars, which has a few options for accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage explores the vast and glorious expanse of Tentsmuir; a pine forest, golden beach, and a wildlife-rich nature reserve.
From Luechars, you are soon into Tentsmuir Forest, which covers 50 square miles (130 square kilometers) and mainly comprises Scots pine and Corsican pine.
You emerge from the forest onto Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, which is home to lots of wildlife including seals and many species of birds. There are spectacular wildflower displays in spring and summer, too.
The trail re-enters the forest and emerges onto Tayport Heath, where you are afforded wonderful views across the river to Broughty Ferry Castle.
You continue onto the town of Tayport, which boasts a picturesque harbor, then follow the disused railway line to the Tay Bridge, and onto Newport on Tay, where this stage finishes.
Newport on Tay has a few options for accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Contrasting scenery, atmospheric castle ruins, and a tough terrain make for a challenging yet rewarding final stage.
With more ascent and descent than previous stages, as well as a hefty distance to contend with, this last stage will be a real test of your fitness and endurance.
From Newport on Tay, you start with some leisurely walking along the coastline to the village of Balmerino, at which point the trail heads inland.
Just outside the village is Balmerino Abbey. Founded in 1229, this once magnificent Cistercian monastery is now an atmospheric ruin with lovely views over the Tay.
From the abbey, the trail climbs inland, culminating in a tough ascent from Home Farm.
You then descend gradually to Creich Castle, a 16th century castle in a serene setting. The castle is situated on farmland, so you need to ask permission before exploring the ruin.
It is a tough climb over Norman’s Law before the trail drops into Newburgh, where this stage and the Fife Coastal Path finishes with a ceremonial passing under the Newburgh Arch.
Newburgh has a few options for accommodation and places to eat and drink.