A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 2

The second day of a walk is always a hard one. At this point the body has had a bit of a shock, it’s done something a bit out of the ordinary and been used a bit harder than normal. So after a day of walking it seems to go “ah yes, time to take it easy, heal up, build muscles and replenish energy stores”. Most people can go out and do one day of walking on a hard route, or with a heavy pack. The next day they may be suffering (or not, for the super fit), but they get that rest which the body is ready for. Of course, on a multi-day trail the body is in for a bit of a shock and won’t get into the swing of things until at least day 3 or 4. So an easy day is what’s called for. At least, that was the plan.

Day2

The day started easily enough. Awoken by a train on the railway 10m behind our tarp and shortly thereafter by a parade of local dog walkers, we hauled ourselves out of our sleeping bags, packed up and started hunting for breakfast. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep either of us have ever had outside, the trains didn’t stop running until almost midnight and Lauren’s sleeping bag proved a little on the chilly side. On the plus side, we’d had a lovely view of a huge number of bats fluttering around the nearby trees and a bright almost full moon to view them by. In any event, a breakfast roll and some coffee in the Waverly Cafe in Burntisland proved to be just what the doctor ordered to see us on our way.

And then disaster struck.

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A text from my mother. “I’ve taken the day off to join you on your walk! Will be there in two hours, where do you want me to meet you?” Knowing there was no escape, we agreed to meet her in the Morrisons in Kirkcaldy, and set out along the coastline.

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This proved to be some of the prettiest walking of the trip. After a slightly rocky stretch, which was quite hard work, the beach opened right up into open slightly muddy sands which were perfect to walk along. We made great time along to Kinghorn where our energy levels started to drop a bit. A slog along to the Morrisons for brunch didn’t lift our spirits, and nor did my mother – eagerly waiting full of energy, with a 5L day bag and bored from waiting for us. We managed to dissuade her long enough to have the worst lasagne I’ve ever tasted for lunch and then set off for the rest of the walk.

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Kirkcaldy waterfront was pretty nice for a British seaside town, with a lovely well maintained promenade along the waterfront – although at high tide there wasn’t a lot of beach to enjoy. We’d slowed down dramatically at this point as Lauren’s feet were starting to give her some blister issues. Ravenscraig park on the east side of Kirkcaldy proved a beautiful place to stop for a break (picture above), and doubly so when we made our way down to the waterfront and found some lovely “walled beaches” with absolutely nobody on them tucked away at the bottom of the park. A highly recommended stop, though do be careful of some litter issues as I think some locals have parties down there occasionally.

I didn’t have a definite plan for where we wanted to end up on this day, only that we were aiming for somewhere around 12 miles and aiming to camp somewhere after a pub dinner. I should note at this point that we’d decided not to bother with camp cooking on this trip as a way of saving weight. We were relying on cold snacks and cafes/pubs along the way. Several of the villages we would pass later that day were supposed to have pubs or cafés, so we weren’t too worried about it.

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Unfortunately, neither West Wemyss or Wemyss itself ended up having anywhere to buy food (despite being very lovely looking villages). The pub in Wemyss did supply a much needed water/diet coke refuel but in terms of food we were limited to our cereal bars.

Cracking on then, at a much reduced pace, we set our goals for the Buckhaven/Methil/Leven conurbation. I was getting a little worried at this point, as we hadn’t found anywhere even remotely suitable to camp. This part of Fife is quite densely packed with villages on anywhere flat (and some places not so flat), so we weren’t exactly passing open grassy pastures very often. The map ahead mostly looked like a steep scarp above the sea and then farmland behind it. I’ve camped in a lot of iffy places, but arable farmland was not high on my list of good spots – right to roam is one thing, but angry farmers are not worth the hassle.

After a brief chat with Lauren (my mum was several hundred metres ahead, with her empty bag acting baffled about why we were lagging behind), I decided that tonight would be one of our B&B nights. This had been part of the plan from the beginning, but we were planning on doing it around the halfway point rather than this early. However between Lauren’s blisters, the lack of suitable camping spots in the first half of the walk, and the fact that this day was rapidly turning into a long one (ended up being about 17 miles),  we decided that tonight was the night. Some googling later and I managed to book us a night in the Forth Bay Guest House in Leven. This B&B comes highly recommended from me. We had spectacularly good service, a room that (whilst only a basic B&B room) was lovely, and a breakfast which was beyond top notch. We actually liked it so much that we decided to book another night the next day. One of the surprisingly great things about the Fife Coastal Path is that it’s very well served by buses – you could easily do the whole thing based in one place and go back and forth each day by public transport. We decided to walk the next day with only one light bag and then head back via bus.

In any event, we still had about 4 miles left to do, so after some brief frustration with a certain booking website we slogged on. Mum announced that she was getting picked up by her boyfriend in Leven, so we endeavoured to slog on. My word. Buckhaven is one of the grimmest places I have ever walked through. Terrible poverty and deprivation, pubs you can’t see into, open drug deals on the street… you get the idea. I wouldn’t recommend walking through here late at night. The path here is a bit grim, a couple of miles of grim streets and pavements waymarked by vandalised stickers on lamposts. Rather an ignominious end to a long day. Fortunately my mum at least took us out for dinner at a completely out of place mexican restaurant which was surprisingly decent.

 

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