Fife Coastal Path: Cambo and Tentsmuir

Cambo Country House

We’ve visited Cambo Gardens in Kingsbarns, Fife, a couple of times before, but not since they opened their Visitor Centre in the old stables in 2017. When we went last October, the café was open with outdoor seating in the courtyard (fortunately under a canopy) and we took advantage of that to have coffee when we arrived and lunch before we left. Both were very good but, sadly for anyone wishing to visit now, all facilities are closed under current restrictions, though you can still tour the gardens. The walled garden includes some quirky sculptures as well as plants.

From the gardens we walked round the side of Cambo House. The  estate has been in the Erskine family for over 300 years and is currently run as a wedding business, holiday accommodation, agriculture, and housing.

From here we took the Woodland Walk alongside Cambo Burn. Reaching the shore, we met the Fife Coastal Path and followed it east past Kingsbarn Golf Links to a minor road.

We then returned to the Visitor Centre on muddy estate paths past Cambo Farm. On the way, we admired the Mausoleum and the dovecot (doocot).

This was a lovely half-day out – in the afternoon, we drove to Crail and did the second half of the walk described in my last post. A full day out to a part of the coastal path we had not visited before was to Tentsmuir Forest between Leuchars and Tayport. The name originates from the 1780s when some of the sailors from a Danish shipwreck pitched tents on the moor.

There’s a large carpark at Tentsmuir Sands where we were pleased to find the toilets were open. There was also a van selling crêpes which we didn’t expect and didn’t use because we had brought a picnic lunch – but they smelled good! Tentsmuir Sands are absolutely glorious.

From there we walked out to Tentsmuir Point and back on a combination of paths through both dunes and forest.

The coastline of Tentsmuir has shifted constantly making it the fastest growing natural landmass in Scotland. In the Second World War, concrete blocks were placed along the high water mark for defence, since when the shoreline has grown further and further away from them at an annual rate of about 5 metres. Other relics from WW2 include an observation tower and an old railway wagon which re-emerged from the sands in 2010.

The beaches and estuaries around Tentsmuir were once important for salmon fishing which has also left its mark. The March Stone, dated 1794, acted as a boundary for fishing rights, dividing the Shanwell and Old Muirs salmon fishing areas. The nearby ice house from the 1850s was used to preserve the fish before shipping it south.

We didn’t see any cattle, apart from this sculpture, but apparently a hungry herd grazes the dunes to keep them free from tree cover. Wind pumps keep the dune slacks (the natural hollows between dunes) from drying out, conserving the habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife. So although this looks like a natural wilderness, it is carefully managed and preserved by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Of all the places we visited doing our October week in Fife, Tentsmuir was my favourite. I have just one more post to complete the story and that will take us to Lower Largo.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.

Fife Coastal Path: Cellardyke to Crail

Cellardyke bathing pool

On this walk (or actually, two walks) we left Cellardyke to the east, passing another of those old outdoor bathing pools. This one was apparently popular from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Nearby was the rather dilapidated looking East Neuk Outdoors – a few licks of paint needed I think.

This lady was gazing out to sea from her bench. Was she watching this little lobster fishing boat?

Or simply contemplating the view of the Isle of May, the Bass Rock, and North Berwick Law?

From here we looked back at Cellardyke:

There was bird life aplenty:

And as we neared Caiplie this rather large bull – fortunately behind a fence:

An unusual sandstone outcrop has eroded into Caiplie Caves (and arches) with early Christian crosses carved on the wall of the largest cave. We were fascinated by the shapes and colours here.

The distance from Celladyke to Crail is just under 4 miles and Caiplie is about the half way mark. On the first of these walks we had set out after lunch, and by the time we had finished exploring the caves it was gone 3 o’clock. No way could we walk to Crail and back to Cellardyke before dark (this was October) so we turned round here. A few days later, we walked out to the caves again, this time from Crail, another charming East Neuk fishing village which boasts one of the UK’s most photographed harbours.

We admired the village from its old houses (1632 is the earliest date I can read) to its topical take on the pandemic (masked garden ornaments).

So our two walks met in the middle which meant we had covered the whole section of the Fife Coastal Path from Cellardyke to Crail. Next time is also a tale of two halves with a garden and some glorious sand dunes.

PS in my last post, I mentioned the windmill and old salt pans at St Monans. I was interested to read a BBC article last week about Darren Peattie who aims to restore salt harvesting to the village, two hundred years after it ended, and also plans to reconstruct one of the nine old salt pan houses to turn it into a visitor centre.

Fife Coastal Path: Cellardyke to St Monans

Anstruther Harbour

The Fife Coastal Path passes right through Cellardyke, where we spent our October break. Every day, we explored a different part of it. Walking west from our front door we passed through the fishing villages of Anstruther, Pittenweem, and St Monans.

Anstruther

Probably the most notable features of Anstruther (pop. c 3,600) are the Scottish Fisheries Museum and the Anstruther Fish Bar, neither of which we visited. However, the window from which two faces are peering  in the gallery below is part of the museum. We did visit the Dreel Tavern (though not on the day of this walk) where a plaque on the wall commemorates the time that James V (1513-42) was carried across the Dreel Burn by a beggar woman because he was frightened of getting his stockings wet!

We also looked at the monument to Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), First Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, and later found his birthplace.

From Anstruther, we continued along the coast to our next port of call, Pittenweem.

Pittenweem

Pittenweem, with a population under 2,000, is much smaller than Anstruther. The name is said to mean place of the caves, and you can still see St Fillan’s Cave, dating from the 7th century, though in these strange times you can’t go inside. We admired the pretty houses, had a good lunch in the Clock Tower Café, and examined the poignant new Fishermen’s Memorial by sculptor Alan Heriot, unveiled in 2019. It depicts a fisherman’s wife and child scanning the horizon for the return of their loved one. The plaque reads “This memorial is dedicated to the men and women who make their living from the sea and to those who have lost their lives in so doing”. It is thought around 400 lives have been lost in a 28-mile stretch of the Firth of Forth off the East Neuk since the early 1800s, many of them never recovered.

From Pittenweem, we continued along the coast to St Monans.

St Monans

St Monans is even smaller than Pittenweem with a population under 1500. Before you reach the village, a restored windmill and the remains of a few pan-houses are testament to the area’s industrial history: the Newark Coal and Salt Works Company founded in 1771.

It’s hard to tell what’s natural and what isn’t in the rocks! There’s a swimming pool created in the sea, as in many of these villages. Much too cold to try out!

As with the other two villages, there was a harbour and some pretty, colourful houses to admire, this time with the added attraction of a Welly Garden. It was raining quite hard by this time, so stealing a pair might have been a good option!

Rain or no rain, from St Monans we had to turn round and do the walk in reverse to get back to our holiday home in Cellardyke: 7-8 miles in total. In the next post, I’ll turn east from our front door and take you along the coastal path to Crail.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.

Glasgow Gallivanting: December 2020

December, eh? A dark, dreary month for the most part, only enlivened by watching the Christmas lights appear in houses and gardens on our after-work walks. Like most people, we had a Plan B Christmas. Months ago, when things still seemed to be improving, I booked a cottage in the Scottish Borders for Mum, John and me. Of course in the end we weren’t allowed to travel, but we’ve postponed our booking rather than cancel it – fingers crossed for Easter! Tonight, we will also have a Plan B Hogmanay because we can’t celebrate with the friends we usually go out with.

When we visited Scotstoun’s Living Advent Calendar last year, I knew immediately that I wanted to use the photographs on my blog this December. The first lockdown gave me the time to prepare most of them and I’m now looking at a bare drafts folder for the first time in months! Thanks to everyone who followed daily. A couple of you, I think Carol (The Eternal Traveller) and Jude (Travel Words), suggested a gallery of all 24 windows, so here they are. Best viewed by clicking on the first one and scrolling through as a slideshow if you have the time or the inclination. Scotstoun has some very artistic and ingenious residents as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Many of my blogging friends have been busy with the 10 Days / 10 Travel Photos challenge in the last few weeks. Thanks to Su (Zimmerbitch) and Andrew (Have Bag, Will Travel) who both nominated me, though I declined at the time because my Advent Calendar was ongoing, and to Geoff (TanGental) who nominated me a couple of days later. Instead of a day to day version, and because I really don’t have much else to say about December, I thought I’d include a gallery here of 10 photos, fairly randomly selected, which featured in the first couple of years of my blog when I knew very few people, though some images are obviously much older than that. Arranged in date order (with links to the relevant posts) you can see:

  • Florence 1992, the only Christmas we have spent abroad. We loved it: much more understated and tasteful than the homegrown version. I also loved that tartan coat: I bought it for £10 in a second hand shop and spent another £10 replacing the torn lining.
  • Havana, 1999. We were sitting on a café balcony from which this man saw us watching him as he delivered oranges and tossed one up to us. John caught him at just the right moment.
  • Mount Teide, 2006. We spent our Silver Wedding anniversary in Tenerife. There’s a lost luggage story attached to this.
  • Grand Canyon, 2009; Bryce Canyon, 2010; North Carolina, 2011; Peggy’s Cove, 2012; Acadia National Park, 2013. Part of a run of North American road-trips which may, or may not, happen again.
  • Berlin, 2012, and Dublin, 2013. Both involving large beers, and both destinations planned for the same purpose: a concert by the late, lamented Leonard Cohen.

All happy memories!

One positive thing about December to report – I have another article published about Jessie Stephen, the Suffragette I have been studying for the last few years, this time in the journal Scottish Labour History. Woohoo!

In December I take a peek at my stats, and I note that my page views have more than doubled this year. I don’t take from this that I am any more popular, just that I’ve posted an awful lot more, sometimes daily – my Advent Calendar, for example, and some of the lovely Becky’s quarterly Square Challenges. (Follow the link to discover what she is up to in January.) As I said earlier, my drafts folder is now empty, so I’m expecting those stats to plummet any time now! It doesn’t matter, I appreciate every visit, especially this year when I think we have all valued our online friends more than ever. So thank you to everyone who has read, Liked, or commented, and may our friendships continue into 2021 and beyond. Happy New Year!

Advent Day 24: Welcome to the party, pal!

On Christmas Eve 2019 we took a stroll to the nearby area of Scotstoun to view its Living Advent Calendar. Each evening in December, one more window had been illuminated. On the 24th, we got to see them all.

Number 24 – Nakatomi Corporation: Welcome to the party, pal! I know this is a reference to the Die Hard film in which, on Christmas Eve 1988, a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber took the Nakatomi employees hostage during their Christmas party, but I admit to being disappointed. Something a little more festive, such as a nativity scene or Santa’s sleigh, would have pleased me a lot better. But this is what we got, so all that remains is to wish you the very best for the holiday season. See you in the New Year! May it be better for us all than 2020.

Advent Day 23: Silent Night

On Christmas Eve 2019 we took a stroll to the nearby area of Scotstoun to view its Living Advent Calendar. Each evening in December, one more window had been illuminated. On the 24th, we got to see them all.

Number 23 – Silent Night. Glaswegians will recognise the Clydeside skyline.

Advent Day 21: Scotstoun Weihnachtsmarkt

On Christmas Eve 2019 we took a stroll to the nearby area of Scotstoun to view its Living Advent Calendar. Each evening in December, one more window had been illuminated. On the 24th, we got to see them all.

Number 21 – Scotstoun Weihnachtsmarkt (though I saw no evidence of the advertised Glühwein and Lebkuchen)!

Advent Day 20: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

On Christmas Eve 2019 we took a stroll to the nearby area of Scotstoun to view its Living Advent Calendar. Each evening in December, one more window had been illuminated. On the 24th, we got to see them all.

Number 20 – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.