A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 7 – The End!

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.

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A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 6

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.

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A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 5

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.

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A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 4

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)

Day4

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.

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A week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 3

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.

Day3

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.

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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 week on the Fife Coastal Path – Day 1

May of this year was a little bit special. I took my first real holiday in 5 years (and technically that was an academic conference which I tacked on some tourism to, so it’s probably longer). I’ve been wanting to do a decent long distance hike for a while, having bailed on a couple of attempts over the last few years due to blisters and weather.

So all that was left to do was to pick a route!

Requirements:

  • Somewhere between 1-2 weeks maximum (Lauren had a maximum of two weeks off left).
  • Somewhere reasonably flat (Lauren hates hills)
  • Somewhere we could be reasonably confident of good weather (Bob hates rain)
  • Somewhere with decent geology to look at (I didn’t tell Lauren this one in advance)
  • Somewhere we could camp easily, and resupply easily (these latter two proved trickier than you would expect)

 

After having a look around at walks in the 80-150 mile length I settled on the Fife Coastal Path. I’ve done parts of it before, given that it was my undergraduate mapping area and that I’d returned as part of an industry facing PhD field trip that I’d been on (which I, as a climate researcher gleefully crashed). It’s also variable and interesting enough to be an exciting trip with lots to see and do.

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