walkhighlands

Fife Coastal Path section 2 - Ferry Toll to Kinghorn

Date walked: 04/02/2018

Time taken: 2 hours

After nearly a year away I was back on the Fife Coastal Path, and making an ambitious plan to finish it by the end of March - because if I don't, the same thing will happen, and the summer will fill with hills and other things again.

These next two days I think of as the railway coast, from where the line crosses the Forth to North Queensferry to where it turns from the coast at Kirkcaldy - of course, I came over by bus to Ferry Toll, and didn't quite make it to Kirkcaldy in the end, but it's still an area I've mostly seen from the train.

Sunday 4th February 2018

I had a bit of trouble getting back on the path from Ferry Toll - I recognised the road where I had left it, and even met a sign quite quickly, but it pointed vaguely between two roads, and over what looked like a path down below with no way to reach it.

The maps didn't help, with my paper one and an online one showing two different routes, neither of which necesssarily matched what existed on the ground, but since the path marked on the my map left from a road which was no longer there, and the actual sign came closest to pointing to the new road, I followed the road down towards the town, past some ongoing works around the new bridge.

This was still not coast in the sense of beaches, but more like some of the flatlands in among the industry near the mouth of the Tees.

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Flatland

But really, of course, this was the land of bridges - having walked steadily towards them from the west I was now in among them, passing under the new bridge first on the road into the town.

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New bridge

The old road bridge is beside the first little harbour, where I sat in the sunshine to eat my elevenses (it probably wasn't 11, but it never is).

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Old bridge

I spent quite a while pottering around the village, which is nice without having any standout feature - old well, old pier, tiny light tower built by one of the Stevensons, scattering of old houses - and then went to the cafe for lunch, since there didn't seem to be any shop.

The rail bridge is the one which really towers over the village, and still my favourite.

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Rail bridge

The way out of the village had a barrier halfway across it with a 'path closed' sign - works for something called the Fife Pilgrim Way - but the diversion map said quite definitely that the path was closed until 2nd February, and as the barrier had been moved and I'd seen someone coming down the path earlier I decided I was justified in assuming that they just hadn't cleared up properly from Friday. The path was a bit rough underfoot in places but better than many paths that are not closed, and it all seemed fine until I came towards another more solid barrier right across the path. I thought this must be the real problem area and I would have to retreat, then realised that the sign on it was on the other side and it was the other end - so I just slipped round the side and pretended I'd never been there!

The first little point was a local nature reserve, and beyond that there was a deceptively rural view of the next bit of coast, looking like the kind of empty bays you might get in Argyll.

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Empty coast

It was an absolutely glorious day, the first of the year where you could feel the sun as well as see it. I remember back in October defining a winter's day as one which was colder if it was clear, and if so, this was spring.

The first apparently empty bay turned out to be a little beach with a couple of houses and a few dogwalkers.

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The second, even more deceptively, suddenly opened itself up into the whole of Inverkeithing harbour, which in theory I knew was there, but didn't realise was quite so well hidden.

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Inverkeithing harbour

The path turned from rural to industrial at the corner, leading up past a quarry to bring me to the other side of Ferry Toll and within touching distance of where I'd started, then up through the outskirts of the town. The centre, however, was far more historic than I had expected, with a scattering of medieval buildings including an old friary.

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Hospitium of the Grey Friars

A road along past football pitches brought me for the second time almost to where I had been a long while earlier - this time looking back across the mouth of the harbour to where I had reached it.

On the coast again a ruined pier had presumably belonged to a disused quarry, and made a striking companion for the rail bridge behind.

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Old pier

The houses of Dalgety Bay across the water looked striking but too foreign, but close up I liked them a bit better - they had at least been made carefully different, when the usual problem with new houses is that they are all the same.

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Dalgety Bay

I didn't particularly take to it, though - lots of good houses for rich people, and wonderful views, but it really didn't seem to be a town, just one endless housing development.

The path led through a little wood and past a lovely little point which I didn't have time to explore, and brought me out at Donibristle Bay - a famous place in poetry!

My camera started playing up around here, insisting that the battery was empty although I didn't think it was - warming it managed to coax it through quite a few more photos, but eventually it just proved me wrong.

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Downing point

A nice little pier marked the end of that bay, and the path cut briefly inland to come out at the actual bay of Dalgety Bay, rather than the spreading town.

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Tiny harbour

At the far end of the bay are the ruins of St Bridget's Kirk, abandoned around 1830 when the population moved.

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St bridget's Kirk

I was in the last of the light now, with lovely sunset colours back towards the bridges, and running late - I was about 95% certain that I was going to miss the next train at Aberdour, although it was all good path from where I was, but only about 50% certain that I wouldn't miss it by a couple of minutes at most, and on that line there was always a good chance it was running late.

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Sunset

Of course the inevitable happened, and I just ended up with a long time to wait - I tried to find some dinner, but one pub was full of people playing bingo, one was run by a lady who chased me away for no apparent reason, and I didn't find the third as I didn't think to look down the sideroad. So I tried my luck in Inverkeithing, knowing I 'd seen plenty of pubs, but none of them seemed to do food and I ended up taking a fish supper back to the next train.

Saturday 17th February 2018

It was two weeks before I came back to Fife, having spent a weekend in Newcastle in between, and the day didn't start very well - I got from South Gyle past the bridge before I remembered that I'd killed my camera battery the last time and done nothing about it. So out at Inverkeithing and back home, stick it on to charge for a while, and try again - fortunately the first start had been quite early.

Coming out of the station at Aberdour I was distracted again by a sign for the castle - I knew that there was something here called a castle but thought it was just a fancy house, not a proper medieval ruin (also with a lego exhibition). So I spent a while exploring that and making myself even later, before heading on again.

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Aberdour Castle

Finally back on track, I headed down towards the harbour and out to Hawkcraig Point. The map was quite misleading here, because it shows the path going right to the tip of the point, but there's nothing there but an impassible rock face.

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Hawkcraig point

So I had to retrace my steps to find the turning I'd missed, up a set of stairs and over the top of the point to reach the remains of a WW1 research station and then the beach at Silversands Bay, with a sea so blue it looked almost tropical if you ignored the winter coats and hats.

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Silversands bay

From the beach a tarmac path led towards Burntisland, squeezed between the railway line and the sea.

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Seafront path

After a while the path slipped under the railway line, and there was even less to be seen - not even sea, just two walls, until it opened out to run along the edge of a housing estate and then a park.

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Between walls

The centre of Burntisland was far more run down looking than I expected - more than Inverkeithing, where I had expected it. The far side, however, with the links and the beach and the row of houses behind, was more what I remembered from childhood visits.

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Burntisland

I have two main childhood memories of Burntisland - trying to slightly Canute the sea one day by building a barrier of sand as the tide crept in, and going there on a train and then going to a playpark with a train to climb on. But there was obviously no chance of the first today, with the tide in already, and all the playpark equipment looked to be new.

At the end of the links the path split into a low tide route along the shore, and a high tide route along the road - but of course this is what the low tide route looked like!

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Under water

At the corner of the road I found a pub still serving food - it was about quarter past three - and went for a belated lunch, so that it was nearly 4 when I set off again.

The road route was unexciting, but did take me past the monument to Alexander III, who was killed by a fall from his horse here, and whose death caused all the trouble with Wallace and Bruce and Englishmen and spiders.

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Alexander III monument

Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags had been making a beautiful silhouette on the other side of the water all day, but now there was a good view right along the Pentlands as well.

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Lothian skyline

Through Kinghorn the route had changed again - instead of cutting up the main road as shown on the map, it went down a set of steps to the harbour and followed the road round the edge of the headland.

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Kinghorn harbour from above

I had meant to push on to Kirkcaldy, but I just missed a train at Kinghorn and knew I wouldn't make it to Kirkcaldy for the train an hour later, which was the latest one I could get to be back in time for an evening event.

So instead I just went down and pottered about a bit on the beach below the station, where the railings of the little boatyard place had been turned into a homemade viewfinder, looking over the Forth.

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Viewfinder

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nigheandonn


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Location: Edinburgh
Activity: Wanderer
Mountain: Eildon North Hill
Place: Tarbert Loch Fyne

Munros: 6
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 16
Wainwrights: 157
Hewitts: 93
Sub 2000: 16
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Borders Abbeys Way    St Cuthbert's Way    Berwickshire Coastal Path   



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Statistics

2018

Trips: 3

2017

Trips: 30
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Sub2000s: 5
Hewitts: 17
Wainwrights 24

2016

Trips: 23
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 5
Hewitts: 16
Wainwrights 23

2015

Trips: 25
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 17
Wainwrights 38

2014

Trips: 20
Munros: 2
Sub2000s: 3
Hewitts: 21
Wainwrights 40

2013

Trips: 16
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 10
Wainwrights 11

2012

Trips: 15
Distance: 90.5 km
Ascent: 395m
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 3
Hewitts: 8
Wainwrights 21

2011

Trips: 2

2000

Trips: 2


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Last visited: Feb 25, 2018
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