Dear reader, if you come here to read light-hearted rants or about cool stuff I do outside, maybe turn around now on this one…
A few weeks ago, mid DnD game, James spontaneously changed the subject from issues of corrupt nobility and an evil black dragon to say “Bob, you do lots of outdoorsy stuff right? I’m getting into walking and I was thinking we should go out and do an exciting walk”.
Ever one to leap at an opportunity for a Quality Mountain Day I cheerily agreed and we started making plans to rendezvous in the Lake District next time we had a free weekend. Come the time everything lined up and we were going to have a day of really clear weather.
We woke in the forest to the sounds of nature.
And joggers. And then a dog walker. And then some cyclists. Eventually the curious attention from passers by got the best of us and we hauled ourselves out of our sleeping bags. Normally on a solo trip I’d be very much of the “arrive late, leave early” school of wild camping, but on the 7th morning of a hike I challenge you to get up early.
Flicking a tick off of me before it had the chance to dig its head in (yes, there are deer ticks in this forest – watch yourself), we got packed and headed out on our way.
Day 6 was a day I’d been looking forward to for the entire trip. From the early planning stages the sight on the map of 4 miles or so of walking through a big flat forest had my attention.
One of my dream bucket list trips would be a multi-day walk which takes place entirely within deciduous forest. Sadly, this is a dream which can never be fulfilled within the UK due to thousands of years of chopping trees down to build big boats so we could go oppress foreign lands. My fantasies of days of practicing bushcraft skills, trekking along rustling paths of beech leaves, catching sight of woodland life roaming around the brush will have to remain just that, fantasies. I do have some long term designs on a bikepacking adventure around either Ettrick or Kielder forests, but those are both managed coniferous monocultures for the most part – and that just isn’t the same.
Tentsmuir forest isn’t a bad option for a walk though, about 14km2 of mixed woodland (much of it boring old pine forest, but a fair amount of others to be fair), a whole load of wildlife (we saw red squirrels and deer, and we weren’t even looking), a whole load of archaeology, and some coastal terrain as well with broad sand dunes and beaches.
Day 5 started with an adrenaline rush.
I was roused from a deep and refreshing slumber by the barking of a very yappy dog running around off the leash by an owner who presumably wasn’t expecting to run into two walkers sleeping two metres off the path (I fully accept that this wasn’t the best place to camp, but Fife repeatedly left us with no real alternative option). After my heart rate recovered we decided that 7am was as good a time as any to pack up and get started, not least because we were both hungry and could probably do with a few minutes on a porcelain throne somewhere.
Unfortunately for us we were now in one of the remoter parts of the walk and were going to struggle to find anywhere. We munched on a couple of cereal bars and set our sights on a nearby golf course (never a long walk away in Fife) and hoped that the restaurant in their clubhouse would be amenable to serving members of the public rather than just members.
Day 4 of the trip started with an absolutely thrilling adventure – a bus ride through the Fife countryside. A bit of a late start after another cracking breakfast in the B&B (this time porridge instead of the Full Scottish, though I was tempted by the offer of a dram of Whisky in said porridge). We were well into the morning by the time we hopped off the X60 (which, by the way, stops in almost every town on the Fife Coastal Path – a fact which would prove useful on Day 5)
This was mostly a pretty easy day to be honest, clocking in at only 11 miles, and to be honest I actually don’t remember all that much of it! Some of that was down to familiarity, this was a stretch of coastline which I spent a lot of time wandering back and forth along during my mapping project. I do remember that Elie to St. Monan’s was a pretty amazing stretch of sandy path along the top of grassy dunes – rather beautiful in the sunshine which poked out from the behind the clouds a lot more regularly than the photos below would seem to suggest.
On Day 3 we woke up in our startlingly comfortable bed and breakfast in Leven and tucked into what was probably the best full Scottish breakfast I’ve had in years. With Lauren’s feet still causing her some issues we decided to take the day easy, booking another night in the B&B and leaving most of our gear behind in the room. The bus service between Elie and Leven is pretty regular, so we’d be able to do a short recovery walk (only about 9 miles) and then bus back to our accommodation. Then the plan for tomorrow was to get the bus back out to Elie and continue from there.
I had absolutely no ulterior motives for wanting to spend another evening in the B&B with a television in the room. None at all.
The day began with a lovely stroll along sandy beaches around the whole of Largo bay lots of carbonate salt marsh wildlife, sand worms and shells to comb the beach for. The weather was a bit wild and overcast, but it was a nice change from the heat and scorching sunburn of the previous two days.