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.

A few days in Fife

Looking for a break between Christmas and New Year, we found a good bargain at the Inn at Lathones near St Andrews. The plan, if the weather was good, was to do some small sections of the long-distance Fife Coastal Path. The first day, we were really lucky. It was bitterly cold and windy to start with, but pleasant once the wind dropped. We set off from Elie to do the section up to St Monans, where we had lunch in the lovely Mayview Hotel. We did think of walking further and getting a bus back to the car, but having done no research on this we decided not to risk it and walked back the way we came. It’s a very good section of the path with a windmill and several ruined castles and towers and it seemed even more beautiful on the way back in the late afternoon light.

Elie from the harbour:

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Lighthouse at Ruby Bay where we parked:

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Lady’s Tower:

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Ardross Castle:

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Newark Castle and tower:

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St Monans:

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The windmill was part of the salt industry at one time; in the late eighteenth century it pumped water into the salt pans and you can still see traces of the panhouses – mostly just green mounds, but this one is clearer:

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Some of the atmospheric pictures from the way back:

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Our plans for the second day were to do a short section of the path near St Andrews, have lunch there and then drive further round the coast to do a bit more. However, while we were having lunch, the rain and sleet started and we abandoned that idea. We did get some walking in the morning though, starting from East Sands:

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After lunch and a bit of shopping, we headed back to the log fire in the hotel bar. This had two advantages: it was warm and it had wifi so that I could write this post. The same was not necessarily true of the rest of the hotel! The bedroom was quite cold until the evening when the heating cranked up, and the wifi wasn’t strong enough to allow us to connect there. However, the food was very good, the staff were great and the place was otherwise comfortable. It’s an old coaching inn, but the bedrooms are all comparatively modern as they have been constructed from outbuildings such as the Smithy and the Old Forge. It’s also a local music venue and seems to have had some good gigs. Last time we visited it was summertime and I think if I was coming again I would wait for better weather – mind you, that’s probably true of most places in this country!

Inn at Lathones

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