I was woken this morning with a gentle knock at my door and when I opened it this lovely breakfast had been left for me – delicious! As I sat at my window eating my breakfast looking out at St. Monan’s harbour I didn’t want to leave! There’s lots to love in St. Monans:
St. Monans harbour:
St. Monan’s quaint houses:
St. Monan’s rugged coastline:
St. Monan’s Windmill:
And St. Monan’s history (ruins of the saltpan houses where salt was manufactured from sea water):
You can see all of these things as you make your way out of St. Monan’s along the coastal path to the next village – Pittenweem.
Pittenweem is only about one and a half miles away from St. Monans so you reach it pretty quickly. The two villages are very alike with their ancient houses and pretty flower displays (there are a lot of bicycles decorated with flowers in Pittenweem but for some reason I failed to get a picture of them!),
but Pittenweem definitely wins in the ‘inviting little coffee shop’ stakes.
And this one was so inviting I felt compelled to go in, although I hadn’t long had breakfast!
I was feeling pretty tired after yesterdays hike over the cliff tops from Lower Largo to Elie and fighting with hay fever constantly because of the long grasses made it worse (I meant to mention in yesterdays blog – if you suffer from hay fever, make sure you have anti-histamine with you on this walk) . So, the plan of action was – get antihistamine at a chemist in Pittenweem then on to the next village, but the smell of coffee drew me inside. And I am so glad it did! In here I met a very nice man called John.
John has lived in St. Monans with his wife, Stephanie for the past 3 years, coming here all the way from Whidbey Island in the Pacific North West of America. He told me how enjoys walking every day and often walks to Pittenweem and back, stopping in this café before the return journey. John was originally from Edinburgh and emigrated to America to ‘make his fortune.’ There he met his wife Stephanie and hadn’t returned to Scotland until he retired 45 years later. John was very interesting, telling me about his book he is writing and how his wife has started painting again after many years of not painting at all even though she loves it. They had researched many places in which to retire and had eventually settled on St. Monans – a place they now both love. I really enjoyed talking to John and wish him and his wife a long and happy retirement in St. Monans!
I think I enjoyed chatting too much though (no, never I hear you all say:-) ) Time was getting on (it was nearly lunchtime!) and I still had 20 miles to walk!
Now, here is another, ‘don’t get lost ‘ warning:-) As you come out of Pittenweem there’s a lamppost with a Fife Coastal Path sign and arrow indicating to go straight on (so far so good) but straight after it before this:
You will see this innocent little garden with a cobbled path:
Don’t be fooled! This is the Fife Coastal Path to Anstruther in disguise! That washed out sign actually says ‘Pittenweem to Anstruther’ and has a coastal path sign above the writing. So take this path, don’t go ahead onto the main road like I might have done:-)
From Pittenweem to Anstruther is only another mile and a half (three miles if you keep getting lost like me:-) ). You will see more pretty flowers and, in contrast, rugged coastline along the way:
And a beach where people have written things in the black rock with pieces of white shells – awww, I liked it anyway:-)
And as you come around to distant sights of Anstruther you’ll see a Scottish flag in the rock:
By the time I got to Anstruther it was very hot. There were lots of people around the harbour, eating chips and ice cream and enjoying the sea views. Anstruther has a lovely harbour with lots of places to eat and drink.
But I had no time to lose, so I walked on (after buying an ice cream of course to fuel my walk) through the village,
and past the ancient Cellardyke harbour.
After Cellardyke, the path to Crail takes you for miles alongside fields of either crops or livestock.
(The one sign that fills me with dread on the Fife Coastal path is ‘Beware of the Livestock.’ I’m a bit scared of cows – they’re cute on the other side of a fence but not any nearer. When I saw these sheep coming, from afar they looked liked cows and I admit I was going to turn back:-) I was so glad when I realised they were nice docile sheep:-) )
Anyway, even though you are going for miles alongside fields and through grassy terrain you always have the other side to look at.
Needless to say with all that grass my hay fever started up again and by the time I got to this bench I just had to have a rest (and search in my bag for some dry hankies:-) )
I thought the plaque on it was lovely!
More things you can expect to see on the way to Crail:
More amazing coastal views (of course),
the Caiplie Caves,
and also expect some pretty hilly terrain and walls to climb.
But it’s all worth it when you arrive at the pretty village of Crail. How lovely is that!
Unfortunately, by the time I got here, I was a bleary eyed, puffy faced mess – nothing different there then:-) So, straight to the chemist (for nasal spray this time – I was getting desperate) and indoors in the cool for lunch at The Golf Hotel (I’m afraid I can’t really recommend this. It was fine and the staff were nice but the food was just ordinary – I did eat it all though:-) ). By this time it was getting late (many places stop serving after 2:30) and there weren’t many options for lunch.
As soon as I was feeling better I was off again – St. Andrews, my intended destination (my husband Mark and daughter Carys were coming up to St. Andrews campsite for the day and pitching a tent for us) was still 12 miles away and it was already 4.30pm!
Now, it said on the map that the path from Crail to St. Andrews was ‘very challenging’ in places. ‘Ha! I scoffed to myself – how hard could it be.’ Well believe me, it is!
It started off really well up to Fife Ness:
Very beautiful indeed! I was feeling quite good at this point (the nasal spray had worked – hurrah!) and I thought I was doing well.
Then the path went down onto the beach.
Now I know this is very beautiful, but the sand was incredibly soft. Have you ever tried walking on soft sand, after already walking ten miles, and with a heavy bag on your back? It’s not very easy, believe me.
And then I was scrambling over rocks – equally difficult in a different way:
And then seaweed:
And then seeweed and rocks (Id stopped looking at the view at this point – just my feet:-) ):
And then back to long grass (oh oh):
Where this becomes your path (yes there is a path in there):
Now, the other thing it says on the map about the route from Crail to St. Andrews is that ‘some sections are not passable at high tide.’ Again, I scoffed, ‘there’s bound to be some way round.’ There’s not.
After getting over the beach hurdles and the disappearing overgrown paths I came across this sign:
So onto the beach I went, watching out for scary cows:-) And this is what I found!
I tried climbing over but it just wasn’t happening – so there was nothing else I could do – stop taking photos and get my socks and shoes off!
It wasn’t too far and it was quite shallow so I knew I was safe enough and, in fact, it was lovely and cool on my hot feet – there’s always a bright side:-)
And I had made it – across all the obstacles, past Cambo gardens and Cambo sands and on to Kingsbarns.
Only 6 miles to go (it was quarter to seven), what else could go wrong?
Mmmm, I thought, should I go on? Just a little bit further – Let’s go!
And it was remote and rough but truly beautiful!
On reaching Boarhills with only 3 miles to go to the campsite I took one last look at the map only to see the dreaded ‘at high tide please wait until the tide recedes and path is clear.’ I knew the tide was high from my previous encounter and the battery on my phone was dangerously low so at that point I walked up to the main road and called Mark to pick me up. I was completely knackered, hungry and thirsty and so glad I had someone to call:-) Thanks Mark and Carys!