The Fife Coastal Walk – from Aberdour to Burntisland

I moved to Scotland recently and have since been making every effort to see as much of my beautiful new home as possible. So on the Bank Holiday we decided to go and see (a small section of) the Fife Coastal Walk, a 150-kilometre path that snakes round the coast of the Scottish Kingdom of Fife.

Yes, you read that correctly – Kingdom! None of that common ‘county’ rubbish for this largely rural area just above the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Hardly being up for several days of walking, we decided to walk the short three kilometres between Aberdour and Burntisland in the south.

Our day trip began in the best way: a train ride over the Forth Rail Bridge. There’s something very charming and nostalgic about taking a train over a bridge and gazing out at the water below and the changing scenery above. For me, it might have something to do with watching Harry Potter take the Hogwarts Express across that grand viaduct bridge, which, coincidentally, is also in Scotland and a day trip for another day! But the Forth Rail Bridge is a grand monument in itself, with its strong curving shapes and bold red girders forming a striking figure against the misty blue backdrop of water and sky. The view from the bridge across the Forth of Firth is similarly enchanting, with numerous seabirds, boats and far-off monuments to pick out from the vastness.

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Once across the bridge the train continues through North Queensferry, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay until we reach our destination of Aberdour. On our way down to the sea we passed Aberdour Castle and decided to make a brief detour to explore it.

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I was really glad that we did. Apart from a few empty rooms – one featuring a faintly painted wooden ceiling – the small castle was mostly ruined. But the stony remains were very picturesque and the castle’s star attraction – a beehive-shaped dovecot – was well worth seeing.

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One final walk through the fortressed gardens and we were back on the path to the coast. We followed signs for Silver Sands beach and in just a few minutes we were there – along with many other people! Families had turned out en-masse to make the most of the unseasonal warmth and sunshine of the bank holiday, leaving barely a square metre of the fine, pale yellow sand unoccupied at the beach’s busiest end. Not wanting to miss out, we whipped off our now-sweltering jumpers and descended to the beach ourselves. Weaving in and out of the sunbathers and sandcastles, we admired the lovely view over the Firth of Forth – the only slight detractor being the industrial-looking seaport on the distant facing shore. We decided it was definitely time for our first Mr. Whippys of the year and bought them from the nearby kiosk.

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Having slurped up our ice creams while watching the waves, we finally began the Fife Coastal Walk. The signposts took us onto a single wide path along the coast and it was straightforward from there. The path was generally very level and smooth, and along the first section we had a near-continuous view of the sea through a thin layer of trees. At one point we came back out of the trees and onto a rocky beach, with large boulders offering viewpoints from which to look back at the beach and, just visible, the Forth Rail Bridge.

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From that point the path took us through a small tunnel beneath the rail line and up into the forest, where the path continued alongside the rail line.

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After a while we came to a frankly amazing waterfall that looked to me like something out of Lord of the Rings! The warm, damp atmosphere of the forest had allowed thick green algae to grow over the rocks, forming a glowing carpet beneath the cascade that looked decidedly mythical.

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The path became less interesting after that, veering off the coast to run along the edge of a new housing estate until we came out in the town of Burntisland. From there the signposts directed us down Burntisland’s small high street, made up of a few local shops, takeaways and the odd bank. At the end we came to a large field with cars and a burger van parked on it, which we walked across in hope of finding a beach – and we found one!

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Though far less of a beach than Silver Sands (partly because the high tide had reduced it to a mere sliver of sand and rocks), it nevertheless made the perfect backdrop for enjoying some fish and chips. We bought these from Links Fish Bar back across the field (cash only!) and ate them sat on the water’s edge. Our walk had built up such an appetite that, for once, we scoffed them too quickly to stop to take a photo!

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We caught the train back home again from Burntisland station, ensuring to sit on the opposite side of the train to last time in order to see the opposite view! It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day and one I’d recommend to anyone keen to see a beautiful corner of Fife.

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