The Fife Coastal Path
Area Interest

Forth Railway Bridge Forth Railway Bridge

Opened in 1890 it was for until more recent times one of the wonders of the world. This took 7 years to build and uses the cantilever principal. The chief engineers were Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker however the construction of the bridge is mainly credited to Sir William Arrol. Arrol is also credited with the building of the second Tay Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge in London. It highest points are 361 feet above water and the length including approaches is 1 mile 972 yards. The construction has 55K tons of steel, 640K cu feet of Granite and 8 million rivets.

Forth Road Bridge

Opened in 1964 this took 6 years to construct. With the approach viaduct this is just over 1.25 mile in length and a maximum height of 512 feet.

Inverkeithing's industry

In the Inner Bay at Inverkeithing ship breaking has been an important form of work and the sister ship of the Titanic, The Olympic, was broken up in these yards in 1935.
The Cruicks PeninsulaThis is made up of solid quartz dolerite know as whinestone. This was formed about 300 million years ago when molten rock came up from great depths below the earths crust. This varies in depths between 10 and 70 metres. The quarry was first opened in 1828 and provided material in the form of slabs, sets and kerbs throughout the UK. Much of the material was used in the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal in dock like Leith and Liverpool. The advent of the motor car meant that the demand changed to crushed whinestone for the roads and much of the output of the quarry was then transported by steamer from the quarry to ports in England.

Starley Burn near to Burntisland Starley Burn

The path crosses the burn close to Burntisland at a pedestrian bridge over what is at this point falls on the burn. The waterfall is some 12 to 15 feet above the path and some 6 feet below and are an attractive feature. Being rich in line that burn leaves a coating on the surrounding stones.

John McDouall Stuart Museum

Details to be posted shortly.

Harbourmaster house Dysart HarbourDysart Harbourmasters House

As a part of the ongoing development of the Fife Coastal Path and the work of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust this building has been renovated and was opened in September 2006 by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown MP. This has many attractive panels and displays related to the walk and the Fife countryside along with some interactive IT offerings. As well as providing a much more detailed understanding of the walking route it also has a cafe where the walker can relax and enjoy some refreshments before carrying on their way.

Francis Colliery Wheel Coal Industry - Francis Mine

This pit which lies to the east of Dysart has over a century of operating life. It was opened in 1874 when in the ownership of the "Earl of Rossln Collieries" and although mothballed in 1984 while in the ownership of the "National Coal Board" it was not formally closed until 1988 when plans to extend it further under the sea to the Lothians was abandoned.
The pit was known locally as the "Dubbie", getting this name from the Dubbie Braes where the pit shaft was sunk. "Dubby" is defined as a rock pool on the shoreline.
Although the pit head area is now turned into an industrial estate the pit head wheel is a reminder of earlier industrial heritage and can be seen from several mile away on the walking route.

Randolph Wemyss (1858 – 1908)

He was born on his father’s estate in Wemyss and at a young age inherited this area rich in coal reserves. Following education at Eton and then in America he returned to Fife to set up the Wemyss Coal Company putting much of his efforts into the logistics of getting coal from the mines to the customers. This entailed rail and coal ports at Methil.

Buckhaven

Within the Parish of Wemyss Buckhaven’s residents are said to be descended from Norsemen who settled there in the 9th century. Once a thriving weaving village and fishing port, it was reported as having in 1831 the second-largest fishing fleet in Scotland with a total of 198 boats. But like so many other communities in the area coal became the dominant industry in the 19th & 20th C.
Of note is the church and now theatre of St Andrew’s. This has been located in Buckhaven since 1825 but is in fact pre Reformation. It was first a church in St Andrews and suffered significant defacement at the time of the reformation (circa 1560). Post the reformation the St Andrews’ congregation grew too large and they needed a bigger building. This church was taken down stone by stone, transported along the coast and rebuilt in its present position.

Methil

This village was in its height of activity in the early 20th C when it had the busiest coal port in Scotland. During the World Wars the port remained busy, now the use is restricted to the refurbishment of oilrigs.The parish Church was designed in 1924 by Sir Reginald Fairlie (1883 – 1952)This is the most impressive building along Wellesley Road and replaced the earlier church building in Lower Methil. It is designed in the Romanesque style with a traditional cruciform layout, the north transept joined to the pyramid-roofed tower by an 'aisle' housing the vestry. A striking feature is the enormous organ by Rushworth and Dreaper; its case has been compared with the 16th century screen in the chapel of Falkland Palace, although the carved detail, and that of the integral elders' stalls, is Celtic in inspiration. The stained glass may be German or Flemish in origin, perhaps dating from the 17th century.
Also on Wellesley Road is the distinctive clock tower of the Tower Bar that dates from 1906. The tower is closely based on the early 18th century tolbooth, which the Path passes by at West Wemyss.

Long Time Gone

Long Time Gone © Jack Vettriano, courtesy Portland Gallery, London

Jack Vettriano

Born in Methil in the Levenmouth area of Fife in 1951, Jack Vettriano spent the early years working in the local coal mines. His talent in painting was self taught and he only became a full time painter at the age of 37. His success has been recognised by the award of an OBE and his financial rewards have been reflected in a large rise in painting prices, many now fetching tens of thousands of pounds. Perhaps one of his most memorable images has been the Singing Butler that was sold for a record breaking price for a Scottish Artist in 2004.

The painting on the left is "Long Time Gone" by Jack Vettriano and is painted with the Methil Power station as the backdrop.

Methil Power Station

This was built in 1965 and was used until 2000 for power generation. It was a somewhat unique power station, only one other beside Methil that were fired by coal mine washings / slurry. It generated 57 megawatts of power, but today it is rarely used and is held as part of the strategic reserve capability. At this time there are discussions as to the longer term options for the station and site.

Leven

This community was built around the River Leven that flows out of Loch Leven. Its original industry was linen but like so many of the neighbouring villages its character was changed with the coal mining industry. To the north end it has managed to retain the less industrial look and with its golf links it has been the home of many fine golfers. One of the sons of Leven was Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord President of the Court of Session in the 17th C. Some of his work is recorded in Sir Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

Lundin Links

Overlooking Largo Bay this is effectively the start of the holiday coastline and as with Leven it has an attractive links golf course.There are on the west side of the village three remaining standing stones believed to be of Druid origin.

Scottish Fisheries Museum

Situated on the harbour front in Anstruther, the Museum tells the story of fishing in Scotland and its people from earliest times to the present. Opened in 1969 the Museum has grown in size now occupying 27,000sq ft including two “A” listed buildings. In addition to the original courtyard and buildings there is also a covered boatyard with the latest gallery housing a 78 ft “ZULU” fishing vessel from the very early 1900s. The Museum has received national awards and being directly on the Path is worthy of a visit. (www.scotfishmuseum.org)

Isle of May Isle of May

Off shore and between Anstruther and Crail is the Isle of May. This is in the protection of Scottish Natural Heritage and is the home to a large and wide variety of sea birds. This ranges through Puffin, Fulmer, Oystercatcher, Tern to Cull, to mention but some.
As well as the natural heritage this island has a long and varied history. To learn more about this aspect click here.

May Princess
During the tourism season there is a boat that takes visitors onto the island. This is run by Anstruther Pleasure Trips on their boat the "May Princess". To find out times and cost link to their website by clicking here.

Caiplie Caves Caiplie Caves

Between Anstruther and Crail are the Caiplie Caves. Based on the carved crosses inside it has been deduced that monks and pilgrims on their way to St Andrews will have stopped her and sought refuge. These cave have been cut out by the wave in post-glacial times when the raised beach was being formed.

Kilminning Coast Wildlife Reserve

The reserve is a strip of coastland about one kilometre in length and 10 hectares in size. It was established in 1985 and is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. In summer, listen out for the stonechat also look out for the white flowers of the scurvy grass. It gets its name from the leaves, which are high in vitamin C, and were widely eaten on ships to prevent scurvy.In winter, many birds can be seen. Out to sea, cormorants and gannets often fly past. Closer to the shore, you may see the bobbing form of the male eider duck with its striking black and white plumage. On the shoreline, oystercatchers can often be seen feeding.

Fife Ness Coast Guards and Lighthouse Fife Ness

This most easterly point is also in part under the management of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. There are numerous migrating birds to be seen in spring and autumn. There is a Fife Ness harbour, which dates from the 16th century, and an HM Coastguard lookout post that has been used on those at sea since the middle of last century.

Fife Ness Harbour - Artist's impression Fife Ness Harbour

This cove was first mentioned in 1537 when it was the the harbour for boat going out to collect customs and shore dues for the Burgh of Crail. It was also then used a a small fishing port but it was not until the construction of the Stevenson Lighthouse on the North Carr Rocks in 1813 that the harbour became a place of importance. This was where stone was cut to shape and then taken from the small harbour to the lighthouse construction. Markings can be seen on the rocks which were used to defined the shape of the stones before transportation to the Isle of May.

Kingsbarns Kingsbarns

The history behind this small community dates back to King David I when it was reputed to be the location of one of his castles or palaces. In more recent times it was part of the Parish of Crail until the mid 17th Century when it separated. In the 19th Century a main source of income was the manufacture of Linen for the Dundee market.

Now know for the new Championship standard golf course, this course follows in a longer history, the first Links being established in 1793. This however ended in 1930 and until close to the end of the century there was no golf at Kingsbarns. The present day course was designed by Kyle Phillips and built in the 90's. It is already ranked as the No. 13 UK Golf Course by Golf World magazine.

Buddo Rock The Buddo Rock

All along this coastline there are unusually shaped rock formations, and the Buddo Rock is one such example. This is just below Boarhill and may be a ideal spot to stop and take a rest. There are views on a clear day across St Andrews Bay to the Tentsmuir Point and the Angus coastline on the north side of the Tay Estuary.
The Buddo Rock has a narrow split in the middle allowing the slim and energetic a chance to explore, but at their own risk.

Rock & Spindle The Rock and Spindle

This rock formation is best viewed from some way off on the eastern side. It appears like a huge spinning wheel, the tall pillar representing the distaff or rock, the wheel-shaped projection representing the spindle. The wheel has probably originated from basalt cooling within a cavity. The whole structure displays the internal architecture of a volcano of Lower Carboniferous age.

From a point close to this the path again rises to higher level and many dramatic views over the East Bay to St Andrews.

Guardbridge

Between St Andrews and Leuchars it is at a point where the road crosses the River Eden. This small hamlet developed with the growth of a paper mill. It is worth noting that the bridge over the Eden is a 15th C six arch bridge bearing the initials and cost of arms of the Archbishop of St Andrews, James Beaton.
Leuchars' more recents claim to fame dates from 1908, when the War Office acquired land to the east of Leuchars Church on which to test man-carrying kites. From this developed the RAF airfield now one of the longest continuously operating military airfields in the world. RAF Leuchars saw in the third millennium as the RAF's busiest fighter base and it looks ahead to a role as home to the RAF's newest fighter aircraft, the Typhoon. RAF Leuchars is also known for its annual air show, one of the best in the UK.

Tentsmuir Point and Sands

Scotland’s National nature reserves - This is a 1500 ha (3700 acre) forest on the NE coast of Fife extending over sand dunes that lie between the Tay and Eden.There is archaeological evidence that the site was occupied in Mesolithic times by hunters and fishermen who were amongst the earliest settlers in Scotland. In more recent times the inhabitants of Tents Muir were people descended form the shipwrecked Scandinavian sailors, and they were known for their smuggling and poaching activities, and the name Tentsmuir is thought to be derived from the camps that used to be set up these local fishermen.
The woods are now managed by the Forestry Commission. This large area of sand dunes and beach at the mouth of the Tay Estuary forms an important roosting and feeding area for huge gatherings of seaduck, waders and wildfowl. The reserve is also a haul-out area for over 2000 common and grey seals. Colourful butterflies are a feature of the grassland and dunes in summer.The land acquired by the Forestry Commission in the 1920s is planted predominantly with Scots and Corsican pine. In addition to commercial forestry, careful management has created an interesting mixture of open spaces, ponds, trees, and sand dunes that are rich in wildlife.
Of interest is the 19th-century icehouse and pond built to keep locally caught salmon fresh.

Broughty Ferry Castle

Broughty Ferry Castle

Across the Tay Estuary lies Broughty Ferry once a fish port and ferry terminal. In 1490 Lord Gray had secured a charter for the fishing and as a part of protection that heritage the Castle was built on the shore line. the castle has seen many change of ownership and use throughout its time and is now renovated and acts as a museum of local history and the whaling industry.

Tay Road Bridge

Opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 18th August 1966, the Tay Road Bridge crosses the Tay estuary linking Newport on Tay with the City of Dundee. Designed by William Fairhurst and built at a cost of £6 million by Duncan Logan Ltd (Contractors), the bridge is 2250m (1.4 miles) long and crosses the Tay 10m (32 feet) above water level. There are 42 spans with 4 navigable by bigger vessels. A 50 feet high obelisk at the Fife end of the bridge commemorates Willie Logan (1913-66), director of the construction company, Robert Lyle, former town clerk of Dundee, and five men who died while the bridge was being built.

Tay Railway Bridge

The first bridge was designed by Sir Thomas Bouch and was opened in 1878 as a single track 2 mile long structure. It had in the centre a thirteen span high portion to allow shipping headroom to reach the Perth harbour. It was on a stormy night on 28th December 1879 that one of these high sections collapsed under a train with the resultant loss of 75 passengers and rail crew.The second bridge plans were approved in 1881 and opened in 1887, running from Wormit to Dundee, a few yards to the west of its predecessor. Sir William Arrol, the builder who also undertook the Forth Railway Bridge, built this bridge.

Wormit

This is to the west of the Path's original end point, but is known as the point where the railway bridge reaches the Fife banks. This is effectively today the western end of Newport on Tay. Do not however expect to get on a train at this point, there is no station.

Newburgh to St Andrews

Newburgh is now the most westerly point of the Path on the northern side of Fife and this community is very close to the county boundary with Perth and Kinross. It is the long term plan to link Newburgh to Abernethy in Perth and Kinross and to then create a new long distance walking route know as the Three Saints Way the will link Killin with St Andrews. This will make full use of the Fife Coastal Path as it is established between Newburgh and St Andrews passing by the ruins of Lindores and Balmerino Abbeys.For more information on this planned walking route link to www.threesaintsway.org

The sections accessed from this page are as follows:

Area interest |  Area history |  St Andrews


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