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The Fife Coastal Path – our guide to this excellent trail

Fife Coastal Path

We write lots of guides about Fife because there are so many excellent places to visit in the county - from St Andrews to Crail, Fife is packed with lovely towns and villages which are just a stone's throw from Edinburgh.

We think that walking along the Fife Coastal Path is the best way to see the county in all its glory. This 117 mile route takes you through some of the prettiest and most historically interesting locations in all of Scotland. We wanted to publish a guide about this route for anyone planning to walk along it in 2024, let's get into it:

Where does the Fife Coastal Path start and end?

The Fife Coastal Path is approximately 117 miles long and typically starts in Kincardine and ends in Newburgh. It's a coastal route so actually misses out a number of towns and cities inland that you might wish to explore in Fife such as Dunfermline (the abbey there is very special).

What sections are there?

The Fife Coastal Path is typically split into 8 different sections, with each section offering something different. Here are the 8 sections:

 

Kincardine to Limekilns
Limekilns to Burntisland
Burntisland to Buckhaven
Buckhaven to Elie
Elie to Cambo Sands
Cambo Sands to Leuchars
Leuchars to Wormit Bay
Wormit Bay to Newburgh
Now let's get into a more detailed breakdown of each section:

Kincardine to Limekilns - 11 miles

Starting at Kincardine Bridge, travel eastwards following cycle path route 76. As you near Culross, you go around the edge of the Torry Bay Local Nature Reserve and keep walking all the way to Charlestown. This is a lovely little village which is connected to Limekilns via the promenade. Limekilns is a lovely little place with surprisingly good amenities. If it was later in the route we'd recommend a fish and chips from the Ship restaurant, but you might want to save your fish and chips for a later destination.
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Limekilns to Burntisland - 17 miles

This section of the Fife Coastal Path takes you under the 3 different bridges connecting Fife to Edinburgh - The Queensferry Crossing, the Forth Road Bridge, and of course, the Forth Bridge. Starting from Limekilns, your first stop of note is Carlingnose Point Nature Reserve. From there, walk through woodland to Port Laing beach. The route then takes you through Inverkeithing, and if you want to pick up any supplies then it's a good chance to do so here. You'll then follow the coast from Inverkeithing all the way to St David’s Harbour at Dalgety Bay, another town which has a very good fish and chip shop (that's definitely a theme of this route!). From the harbour you start walking towards Downing Point - there was a World War I coastal gun battery defending the Firth of Forth based here, and you can still see the gun emplacements if you go up the stairs (plus you'll get amazing views across the water). Walk past Donibristle Chapel and the ruins of St Bridget’s Kirk and then into Aberdour. We mentioned in our guide to the best beaches near Edinburgh that Aberdour Sands is one of the best beaches in Scotland, and it really is worth enjoying if you have the time. From Aberdour you walk up over Hawkcraig cliffs and follow the path through the woodland towards Burntisland.
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Burntisland to Buckhaven - 14 miles

You might want to start this section by enjoying some food at a cafe in Burntisland, where you'll find plenty of excellent options. Once you get started on the route, it's about 3 miles to Kinghorn, where you'll find the first stop of note, a monument to Alexander III, who fell to his death in this area. Keep walking for another 3 miles and you'll soon reach the outskirts of Kirkcaldy and Seafield Tower, an area where you can often spot seals. If you have time and want to explore Kirkcaldy, we have an entire guide about things to do in the town. As you're leaving Kirkcaldy, take time to visit Dysart Harbour and St Serf’s Tower in the royal burgh of Dysart. From Dysart, the path takes you over Blair Point and into West Wemyss. As you're walking towards East Wemyss, take time to stop at Wemyss Castle, which was built in the early 15th century. Between East Wemyss and Buckhaven, you've got a few more stops of note, including MacDuff Castle and the Wemyss Ancient Caves.
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Buckhaven to Elie - 11 miles

From Buckhaven, it's a straightforward walk to Methil and then Leven. If you have time then you could visit the amusements centre at Leven, which is full of fun games for young and old alike. Once you reach Leven Head you can walk to Lundin Links along the beach (if the tide is in you can walk through the sand dunes). Once you reach Lundin Links the route then crosses the Keil Burn to Lower Largo, from where you can follow the abandoned railway all the way along the beach to Kincraig Point. Walk over the cliff and across the golf course, then walk to Elie.
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Elie to Cambo Sands - 13 miles

I know that we've mentioned fish and chips a few times in this guide, but we'd describe this section as the fish and chips section - it takes you through both Anstruther and Crail (read our guide about Crail here), 2 of the best places to get fish and chips in Scotland. This is also a tricker part of the Fife Coastal Path due to the variety of terrain, so you'll need all the energy you can get. Starting from Ruby Bay, there is a clear route all the way to St Monans about 3 miles away. You may wish to take a slight detour from the path to see both Elie Lighthouse and Lady Tower, as well as the ruins of Ardross and Newark Castles. Keep walking all the way past St Monans Windmill to Pittenweem, a lovely little village with a working harbour. It's 1 and a half miles from Pittenweem to Anstruther, where you can stop for food and coffee if you like. There are places to sit with food next to the harbour which is an enjoyable experience. You should also take time to visit The Scottish Fisheries Museum, a fascinating museum which explains the history of fishing in Scotland and the important role that the fisheries of Scotland played in the lives of every Scot.
 

After Anstruther, keep walking through Cellardyke all the way to Crail, our preferred place for a chippy. You'll find the Caiplie Caves halfway between Cellardyke and Crail, a very beautiful series of caves. The 2 mile route between Crail and Fife Ness is one of the tougher parts of the entire route, especially the part which passes through the Kilminning Coast Wildlife Reserve. You then reach the most easterly point in Fife and King Constantine’s Cave, which is very interesting to see. Keep walking around the golf course and beneath the Randerston cliffs if it is safe to do so. You'll find a bridge over Cambo Burn which turns into a path through the dunes, taking you into Cambo Sands. Cambo Estate is a nice place to stop if you want a nice lunch or to explore the grounds.
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Cambo Sands to Leuchars - 14 miles

This is another section of the Fife Coastal Path with some pretty tricky terrain to navigate, and you'll have to check the tide before setting off as some parts of this section are tidal. The first 3 miles are between Kingsbarns and Boarhills - this first part can be really muddy during the winter months, especially on the farmland side. But it's the 5 mile walk between Boarhills and St Andrews which will likely cause you the most issues, and this part of the Fife Coastal Path can only be completed at low tide. You'll encounter 2 interesting rock formations during this walk - firstly Buddo Rock (a stack of pink sandstone) and then the Rock and Spindle (the remains of a volcanic plug). Keep walking along the beach until you reach Kinkell Ness, and then go down into East Sands, St Andrews. We'd recommend walking through St Andrews at this point and taking in some of the sights (we've got a guide about things to do in St Andrews if you need ideas). To continue along the Fife Coastal Path, walk behind the Old Course Hotel and then continue another 4 miles all the way to Guardbridge.
Take a moment to stop at Coble Shore Point where you can enjoy views of the Eden Estuary Nature Reserve. From Guardbridge it's only 1 more mile to Leuchars, and the hardest parts of the Fife Coastal Path are now behind you.
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Leuchars to Wormit Bay - 16 miles

Before leaving Leuchars, we'd recommend taking a moment to admire St Athernase Church, a very pretty 12th century Romanesque church. This section of the Fife Coastal Path has a few stops of note, but is generally quite a good opportunity to get your head down and get some miles under your belt. 4 miles from Leuchars you can detour slightly towards Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve to the southeast of Tayport, a great place to spot wildlife such as otters and teal birds. Tayport itself is also a very pretty little village which you may wish to explore if time allows for it. From Tayport, it's fairly straightforward to follow the disused railway line all the way to the Tay Bridge, and then from the bridge, it's pavements all the way to Wormit Bay.
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Wormit Bay to Newburgh - 15.5 miles

The last section of the Fife Coastal Path starts from the car park at Wormit Bay and takes you 2 and a half miles to Balmerino. You'll pass through some woodland and fields, but it's fairly straightforward and nothing compared to what you've tackled already. It's the next section from Balmerino to Newburgh which is really testing - you'll walk 11 miles with some steep inclines, including a section which almost takes you to the summit of Norman’s Law. From Balmerino, walk along the beach until you reach the large woodland at Birkhill Castle approximately 2 miles away. You'll then walk through the 1000 acres of woodland crossing a series of bridges and dens until you reach Brunton around 2.5 miles away. Keep walking until you see Norman’s Law coming into view. Walk up Norman's Law and into pine woodland until you're at Glenduckie Hill. Once you're over Glenduckie Hill, you'll see Newburgh. Walk along the waterfront of Newburgh until you see the Fife Coastal Path arch, signalling the end of the route.
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What should you be aware of before heading along the Fife Coastal Path?

As you can see, the terrain along the Fife Coastal Path can be quite tricky in parts, and you should ensure that you're wearing suitable footwear and clothing. You're also in the East of Scotland, where the weather can be unpredictable, so always bring extra layers and waterproof clothing with you.
We hope this guide inspires you to follow this excellent walking route. If you want to follow other walking routes in Scotland then we have a guide about the Southern Upland Way in the South of Scotland, as well as the Mull of Galloway walking trail.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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