271. Burntisland to Buckhaven

October 2013

This was the second day of a 3 day trip walking part of the Fife Coast and I was looking forward to this stretch now I had reached the mouth of the Firth of Forth and so back to walking beside the open sea. I had spent the night at the Glenrothes Travelodge and slept well. My super cheap room rate didn’t include any sort of breakfast so I settled for an Egg and Bacon sandwich from the nearby petrol station. I put the things I needed for the day in my ripped bag (which had torn just after I left home yesterday) with the intention of replacing it when I got to Kirkcaldy, so I hoped it was last out until then.

The hotel was not ideally situated for public transport access being remote from the town centre however a lot of the buses actually stopped here beside the A92 roundabout, including the express buses. Unfortunately it being Sunday the service was far more limited and so Traveline directed me a rather ugly suburb 5-10 minutes walk away where I can pick up a bus to Kirkcaldy. It is only a little over 5 miles from my hotel but the bus takes such a ridiculously indirect route, meaning that it takes me 40 minutes to get there! From here I then walked to the railway station and took a train the rest of the way to Burntisland. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long for the train and it doesn’t take long to get me on to Burntisland, where I ended my walk yesterday.

Burntisland Station

The town is quiet at this time of day and the docks near the station largely empty.

Burntisland

The official route of the coast path is inland of the railway line but there seems an obvious path alongside the docks here which I follow in the hope I can get through. I can, which is useful (and makes me wonder the coast path is routed away from the coast here). Over the Firth of Forth I again have clear views of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh from Burntisland

Soon I round the corner and am presented with a lovely sandy beach.

Burntisland

Burntisland

There are quite a few dog walkers now – this is a popular spot and understandably so. The trains run right along the back of the beach here and I think it must be lovely to commute along this line to Edinburgh each day, I don’t think I would ever tire of the views of the ever-changing coastal landscape to start each day. I suppose though it must get frustrating being able to see your destination (Edinburgh) just a couple of miles away (as the crow flies) but know that it will take nearly an hour to get there!

Train passes Burntisland

To start with there is a good promenade around the back of the beach (you can see the people on it and the benches below the train in the photo above), so I follow this.

The beach at Burntisland

Out to sea I can see the island of Inchkeith (at least I think that is what it is), with Black Rocks in front of it.

 

The beach at Burntisland

Inland I have views of the town.

Burntisland

Sadly the promenade around the bay soon ends at the old pier and from here I can see the coast path follows the A921.

Burntisland beach

This A-road is inland of the railway line and doesn’t look a great route (walking on A-roads is not very nice usually) so I decide to see if I can get round and walk along the beach, as I can see a dog walker trying to round the pier at Kinghorn already. A bit of a scramble over the rocks and I can see the sandy beach stretching before me, so it looks like I can get round.

Between Burntisland and Kinghorn

I initially walk quite far out on the beach, expecting it to be firm sand here but quickly discover that the beach gets muddy when the tide is out, so then keep close to the shoreline, where the hard sand and broken shells make for easy progress.

Between Burntisland and Kinghorn

I am soon nearing Kinghorn ahead, with just a short distance to go along the sand.

Approaching Kinghorn

The town looks very pretty as I approach.

Kinghorn

I pass a large caravan site, with the caravans at all different heights on this hilly part of the coast.

Kinghorn

There is a new housing development at the harbour at Kinghorn, which is nicer than I expect and there is an easy path around the headland and along the road to come round to the main harbour of Kinghorn (oddly the coast path misses all of this, sticking to the main road).

Kinghorn

Kinghorn

Kinghorn

Soon I have a lovely view down to the pretty village based around the harbour of Kinghorn ahead.

Kinghorn

This is beautiful, and un-expected delight with the pretty houses around the sandy beach, with hills behind. I take the path down through the gardens beside the cliff to the beach and then the little promenade beyond it.

Kinghorn

Kinghorn

At the church, the coast path takes me left under the railway line (which crosses high above on a viaduct).

The railway line at Kinghorn

Just after, the coast path signs me into a small park and back under the railway line (I wonder if that diversion was really necessary), squashed in beside a caravan park.

Things soon improve and the path widens out to follow the cliff tops along the rocky coast, offering fine views.

Near Kinghorn

The Fife Coast Path near Kinghorn

This continues above the rocky shoreline and is very varied.

Near Kinghorn

There are good views back to Kinghorn, too.

Near Kinghorn

The path undulates, sometimes running near the shore and sometimes higher up the cliffs near the railway line.

Between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy

This lovely part of the coast path continues to the ruined Seafield Tower which is the first building I reach on the edge of the large town of Kirkcaldy.

Approaching Kirkcaldy

I stop here and have a quick look around, however there isn’t much to see and the tower is in ruins. Indeed judging by the pile of rubble below it, it looks as if some of it has recently collapsed.

Seafield Tower

The beach behind the tower is almost entirely covered with sea weed!

Between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy

Beyond the tower, I can see Kirkcaldy ahead, which doesn’t look too pretty, with tower blocks in the distance and the remains of some sort of harbour wall visible on the beach.

Kirkcaldy

Soon there are houses on the left, but there is still a good bit of greenery between them and the coast.

Kirkcaldy

Kirkcaldy

Across the Forth there seem to be a few showers over Edinburgh, but thankfully they don’t seem to be coming to this side of the estuary.

Soon I’m diverted left away from the coast and onto the A921. Soon there is a promenade, but repair works mean much of it is closed and I have to walk on the pavement beside the main road (now a dual carriageway) instead, which isn’t so good. I pass the back of a dis-used swimming pool and then the shopping centre and conclude I must be near the town centre. I head into the town to get a replacement bag for mine that is falling to bits. I found a branch of Argos and got one from there and so move the contents of my rucksack (thankfully just the days supplies today) into the new bag and deposit the old broken one in the bin. The town does not look very good from the coast, so the town centre turns out to be a pleasant surprise, an attractive mostly pedestrianised street with some nice old buildings along each side.

Kirkcaldy

Back to the coast, this part of the path is not great and I’m soon heading up hill away from the harbour, still on the main road. Opposite some flats I see a car park and park to the right and this takes me down to Ravens Craig. This is beautiful, a rocky beach backed by a large grassy area with the ruins of a castle, and it feels surprisingly rural.

Ravenscraig

I stop for lunch here. This gives me time to look at the rocks properly, which has some really beautiful patterns in them.

Ravens Craig

Looking at the map I see the coast path kept to the road a little longer but I’m able to walk along the base of the cliffs a bit and find steps back up onto the coast path, so I don’t need to head back up to the cliff tops.

Ravenscraig

The next mile is a nice walk on a well surfaced path with good views over the Firth of Forth, through Ravenscraig Park. I passed this odd structure on the way, not sure if it’s some sort of old kiln or perhaps an ice house.

Ravenscraig

Ravenscraig park is lovely and is I suspect is the grounds of a former stately home.

Ravenscraig Park near Kirkcaldy

Ravenscraig Park near Kirkcaldy

Ravenscraig

Ravenscraig

At the end of the park to my surprise the path ahead goes through a small tunnel to come out to Dysart and am very surprised to find myself in a beautiful old harbour, surrounded by attractive buildings, this is a lovely surprise.

Dysart harbour

Dysart harbour

I walk around the back of the harbour, enjoying fine views of the harbour itself and the boats.

Dysart harbour

Dysart harbour

Beyond the harbour the village itself is also extremely pretty. I hadn’t been impressed with the western part of Kirkcaldy, but east of the town centre it has been lovely.

Dysart

Soon the town ends and the coast path climbs up to the tops of the cliffs, as the houses end.

Dysart

I can see the village of West Wemyss near the base of the cliffs ahead.

Approaching West Wemyss

Sadly I soon spot a sign warning that the coast path is closed ahead. There is no diversion signed and not wanting to walk on the main road I decided to ignore it and continue ahead. This brings me pas the old mine workings, with the old pumping wheel still remaining just to the left. This is part of the Frances Colliery a large coal mine which used to be worked here. The map shows far more remains than I can see from the coast path.

Frances Colliery near Kirkcaldy

Frances Colliery near Kirkcaldy

Having ignored the path closed sign, I am worried I am about to come to a dead-end, I am pleased to see someone coming the other way. I ask her if you can get through and she confirms you can. She says the sign has been there for ages and thinks there was some flooding at some point, but it has gone now and shows me the tape and sign she has just removed from the other end of the closure! Re-assured I carry on, soon descending steps to Blair Point. From here the path is at a low level around the tree-lined bay to West Wemyss. There are a few unusual buildings and ruined structures here and red cliffs to the left. I suspect the structures are to do with the former mines.

Approaching West Wemyss

Tower west of West Wemyss

Soon I reach the harbour at West Wemyss (curiously there is also a town called Wemyss Bay on the west coast of Scotland too, on the Firth of Clyde).

West Wemyss

This is a wonderful little village, with the red-roofed buildings behind the pretty harbour.

West Wemyss

West Wemyss

There are few people about enjoying this place too, which is a surprise given it is now early afternoon on a Sunday, quite warm (for the time of year) and the sun is beginning to break through. I keep to the coast road through the village and on along a low-level path behind Wemyss Castle, the walls of which I can see to the left, and very impressive it looks too.

West Wemyss

West Wemyss

Wemyss Castle

There are some snooty signs along the path here saying the correct route of the coast path is along the beach, which looks rather awkward, so I ignore the signs and continue along the obviously well used path just behind the beach (there is right to roam in Scotland anyway, so I’m not trespassing by doing so).

I continue along this good path to East Wemyss. I’m not clear which way I’m meant to go as I approach East Wemyss but decided to press on along a track through an area dotted with fishing shacks and the like. This soon becomes the public road taking me through the village. East Wemyss is also a nice village although larger and not quite as pretty as West Wemyss.

East Wemyss

The road fizzles out at a car park beside the church. I continue straight on along the coast path, passing some caves in the cliffs on the left, which are again bright red and remind me of South Devon and ahead I can see to Buckhaven, which looks a bit industrial.

Approaching Buckhaven

Red cliffs at East Wemyss

Across the shore, I can see showers again over Edinburgh. I considered ending the walk in East Weymss originally but I decided I have enough energy to press on to Buckhaven, the next town. The path soon turns left inland a bit and gains height. Just before the road I fork right on the old railway line and follow this as it heads back towards the coast. A shame the railway line no longer exists, but it does provide a good path.

Near East Wemyss

The coast near Buckhaven

The coast near Buckhaven

Soon I reach the edge of Buckhaven. Rather than follow the road there is a good path adjacent to the road, the other side of a fence, with some seats offering fine views back where I have come and to the harbour below (which is industrial and looks partly derelict). I follow this as it heads south east and then return to the road to pick up the main road, which the coast path follows. This takes me through a few residential streets and I then get the feeling I am heading towards the centre, as there are some shops, but they all seem closed and in some cases it’s not clear if they are closed today (becuase it’s Sunday) or for good!

I cross the road ahead and continue as there are more shops. My ankle is starting to ache now after the last few miles on tarmac and I’m pleased to spot the bus stop on the right. I take a seat and check the timetable and find an express bus to Kirkcaldy is due in about 10 minutes. This arrives on-time and I have a quick and comfortable journey back to Kirkcaldy, where I change back onto the slow local bus back to Glenrothes and the hotel.

This was a lovely and varied walk, taking in large towns and small villages. I was pleasantly surprised by this walk, I had it expected it to be good, but it exceeded my expectations, with most of the urban areas being nicer than I had expected (parts of Kirkcaldy excepted!). West Wemyss in particular was lovely as was Ravens Craig.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Stagecoach Fife bus 7. Dunfermline – St Leonards – Camdean – Rosyth – Inverkeithing – Dalgety Bay – Abderdour – Colinswell – Burntisland – Kinghorn – Kirkcaldy – Dysart – Coaltown of Wemyss – East Wemyss – Buckhaven – Lower Methil – Leven. Every 30 minutes Monday – Saturday and hourly on Sunday. There is also a railway station at Kirkcaldy where you can change onto trains to Edinburgh to the south.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link

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2 Responses to 271. Burntisland to Buckhaven

  1. We’ve done the section from Dysart to West Wemyss (and back) and really enjoyed it, but haven’t ventured through the tunnel at Dysart Harbour. However, I’m pretty sure your odd structure is a bricked up doocot (dovecote).

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