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.