Fife Coastal Route
The Fife Coastal Route is a 77 mile route that takes you from Kincardine on Forth all the way around a section of the east coast to reach Newport on Tay next to the Tay Road Bridge. It takes you through former fishing villages along the coast and through historic towns with ancient castles.
The entire route only takes a couple of hours to drive from start to finish but it makes a lovely trip over a few days if you plan accordingly and take advantage of all the the Fife Coastal Route has to offer.
Kincardine to North Queensferry
The Fife Coastal path begins in Kincardine on Forth, a former hub of shipbuilding, which is at the point where the Forth begins to turn north. From the south you can access it by crossing the Kincardine Bridge.
You can mark the start of your journey by visiting the Kincardine Arch, a celebratory arch unveiled in 2014 to mark the beginning (or the end) of the route. It was fabricated by local apprentices and honours the long engineering history of the Forth Estuary.
A short journey from Kincardine on Forth takes you to Devilla Forest, an area of 700 hectares full of Scots pines where you may be able to spot rare red squirrels if you're lucky. In the forest's boundaries there's a plethora of things for you to find including four lochs, an abandoned church, and even a World War II explosives research station.
Further along the road takes you to the Royal Burgh of Culross which is a historic and picturesque town overlooking the Firth of Forth. Nearby you can visit Blair Castle or Dunimarle Castle or take a walk along the old railway to take in the views of the area.
In Culross itself you can visit Culross Palace, a late 16th century merchant house which was built by Sir George Bruce who was a successful merchant with excellent links to other Forth ports, the Low Countries, and Sweden. It was visited by James VI too, despite never being a royal residence.
As you approach Rosyth you can view the ruins of Rosyth Old Church, which is built on land that was granted to the Monastery of Inchcolm in the middle of the twelfth century. Further into Rosyth stands Rosyth Castle and Doocot which is an L Plan tower house dating back to the 1470's in the middle of a working dockyard. After the battle of Inverkeithing in 1651 it was occupied by Oliver Cromwell before being left empty by the 18th Century.
3 miles from Rosyth is Dunfermline, a short detour from the main route, where you can visit Dunfermline Palace and Abbey. You could set up in Rosyth and use the ample public transport links to make the short journey. This historic building will allow you to admire the Romanesque architecture and visit the place where Robert The Bruce's body is buried, a must see for history fans.
Exit at the opposite side of Rosyth and you'll reach North Queensferry, named after the ferry service that Queen Margaret had established between the town and Edinburgh Castle in the 11th Century, which has a few attractions for you to visit. The most obvious is the Forth Bridges, the direct crossing from this side of the Firth of Forth to the capital city.
The best view will come from Queensferry Light Tower, the world's smallest lighthouse of its kind that's still in use. The iconic railway bridge is a UNESCO world heritage site and you can take a boat tour from the area to tour the bridges, wildlife, and the islands of the Forth.
Another great attraction of North Queensferry is Deep Sea World, Scotland's National Aquarium. It has a range of exhibits that cover the sandy beaches of our own coastline but also those further afield such as the Amazon and the Tropics.
North Queensferry to Crail
Further along still will find you in Aberdour. This picturesque seaside town is home to Silver Sands, one of the finest beaches in Scotland with excellent views across the Forth to Edinburgh and The Lothians. It's other key attraction is Aberdour Castle. It was built by the Douglas family in the 13th century before being extended in the 16th and 17th centuries. It's thought to be the oldest standing stone castle in Scotland which offers guided tours in the summer that include the stunning painted ceiling in the east range that survives from the 17th century. You may recognise some of the areas as filming locations for the TV show Outlander if you're a fan.
Those keen to golf across the route can visit Aberdour Golf Club where you can "Golf with a view". It was established in 1896 and covers 5447 yards and was voted Best Golfing Experience in Scotland in 2012 and 2013, high praise in the country where golf originated.
The next large town you'll come to is Kirkcaldy which is home to Links Market that takes place each Easter on the town esplanade and is Europe's longest street fair. There are also several parks and walks in the area which you can visit, making it a great place to set up and stop overnight. On its outskirts you'll find the 16th Century Seafield Tower and Ravenscraig Castle for you to view and explore.
Along the next stretch of your journey you can visit Dysart which once brought cargo in from the Netherlands and is a picturesque place with narrow alleyways and stunning old buildings. You can stop to visit Dysart Tolbooth or the Harbourmaster's House before continuing your journey onwards.
Following the route will take you through Methil and Leven and around Largo Bay before you reach the beautiful fishing village of Pittenweem, Fife's only working fishing harbour, and then Anstruther. From here you can take a boat trip to the Isle of May to admire the array of wildlife that find their home here and learn more about them at the National Nature Reserve visitor centre.
Elsewhere in Anstruther you can visit its famous award winning fish and chip shop and the Scottish Fisheries Museum which allows you to see over 15 historic boats and 66,000 objects from across Scotland including paintings, costumes, and photographs.
Once you reach Crail you'll be met with another of Fife's stunning fishing villages. It's only 10 miles from St Andrews, and another excellent stop on the coastal path. It's home to the Crail Museum which houses insight into the Royal Burgh, seafaring tradition, Crail Golfing Society, and airfield history from World War I until 1960.
Crail to Newport on Tay
Continuing on from Crail will take you to the most easterly point in Fife, past Crail Raceway and out to Fife Ness Lighthouse which was built in 1975. It was the last lighthouse built in Britain that has an enclosed lantern and is accessible through Crail's Golf Club.
The next stop on your trip is St Andrews, the world famous Home of Golf. Aside from playing the Old Course you can have a guided tour who will take you around the 1st, 17th, and 18th holes and then claim a complimentary Callaway golf ball.
A short walk from the Old Course is the British Golf Museum which houses over 500 years of golfing history. It's a 5 star attraction with interactive galleries and a shop that sells official Open Merchandise all year round, great for gifts. You can relax after your visit at their roof café, which seats up to 80 people.
If you're not so keen on golf courses you can always visit some of the historical buildings that reside in St Andrews. This includes the 450 year old castle which has been a bishop's palace, a fortress, and a state prison! There's also the St Andrews Museum which houses a permanent exhibition, "St Andrews A-Z", and a schedule of talks, workshops, and shows throughout the year.
West Sand is accessible to all thanks to St Andrews West Beach Wheelchairs who provide free rental of specially adapted wheelchairs. These can be booked in advance and means that the whole family can enjoy a lovely walk along the sandy beaches together.
When you're ready to leave St Andrews you can visit Leuchars, just five miles along the road, and then Tentsmuir Forest. It's a mature pine forest with miles of trails that can be explored on foot or by bike and is home to a wide range of wildlife. Roe deer and red squirrels have been spotted amongst the trees and a walk to the beach to Tentsmuir Point will allow you to see hundreds of seals lounging along the shore. There's also the Scottish Clay Shooting Centre where you can book a lesson or an experience day for something a little different.
The final few miles will loop you past Tayport and on to Newport on Tay, the end of this wonderful coastal path. From here you can cross the River Tay and head on to Dundee or continue along the coast of the Firth of Tay.