Fife Coastal Path – East Wemyss to Elie (Part 1.)

Another instalment of my Blisters or burst “Going Coastal” blog as I walk along the 116 mile Fife Coastal Path, between Kincardine on the Forth to Newburgh on the Tay.

Photography.
I have slightly changed my picture style. The previous pictures had a soft, dreamy look to them almost verging on a near infra red type picture and they seemed to be suffering from over exposed highlights. The pictures were fine up to the point the monochrome conversion process started after that they seemed to loose details in the brighter areas so I’ve done a bit of digital dodging to protect the highlights a bit more.The lens on the X-Pro1 was changed to the 21mm (50mm equivalent) and I didn’t really miss the wider angle lens.

East Wemyss.
It started out to be a miserable morning at East Wemyss, raining on the drive over and it was threatening to rain again as I parked my car up close to the semi-ruined St Mary’s by the Sea church.
Quite a bit of work has been made to build up the sea defences here, with the result of a nice path along by the sea wall. Quite soon I came to two monuments, the first one commemorates three fishermen who died in a boating accident August 2015, while out fishing. Once again illustrating the old saying that behind every fish landed is a widows tear.
The second monument commemorates Sir Jimmy Shand, who was born not too far away from the memorial. A great accordion player and band leader who never forgot his roots but ended up living in Auchtermuchty and was buried there.

Monuments, East Wemyss

Wemyss Caves.
The sea wall ends at a buddist garden  and a short distance from that is one of my greatest “roundtoits” The Wemyss caves with their enigmatic rock carvings. The caves are only open on a small number of days through the year, so maybe one day I’ll be able to see them for myself. There are a number of information boards by the road before you get to the end of the sea wall on the caves and their carvings.

Wemyss caves

The nesting site of the Fabulous Rock. Curious as to why anyone would want to leave stones in this hollow.

Rock Nest

The path then climbs away from the coast going uphill to the ruined 14th century Macduff Castle…

Macduff Castle

…with it’s bijou 21st century drinking den in the basement.

Bijou Drinking Den.

There are a number of 17th century gun loops along the wall by the path, I don’t know whether they were for decoration or had a practical purpose in repelling attackers. This is the only outer wall that remains.

Gun loops, Macduff castle

Buckhaven.
The path continues along the side of the cemetery to join up with a disused railway line heading for Buckhaven.

Old railway line path

The going here is good with a nice view over the Forth to the southern shore. There may be a wreck just off shore as there is a yellow marker buoy just off shore in the bay.
For some reason the path climbs up a flight of steps to join another railway line as it enters Buckhaven.
There are a number of local interest boards set out on the grass beside the path, you can take the short cut by crossing the grassy area to the right or continuing along the FCP to come to an archway for another path to the “A955 and The Bird Scheme.”

Water Baulk and the Bird Scheme Path

Before you is an impressive mural painted on the fence, go up to the mural and turn right and follow the road.

Mural, Buckhaven

There are a number of local history points along this road, to look out for.

Without a doubt Buckhaven must have been some place in its day. Unfortunately those days are long gone but you can get a feel for the glory days just by the size of this local Co-op on what is a dead end road. The folk must have had the money to shop here indicating prosperity, the shop opened in 1868 and closed in 1994.

Old Co-op, Buckhaven

It would be an act of self denial to say that the walk through Buckhaven and Methil is a pleasant one but there are things to see…

Like this wane trapped behind the door of this craft butchers.

Wane trapped behind the door

Like the Mother Ship. Stewards of Buckhaven have been pie champions off and on for years, so I stopped by for a Steak Pie and a doughnut, not your wishy-washy modern baked kind but a traditional calories be damned fried one and good it was too.

The Mother Ship

The road comes up to a junction and you turn right. It should be said that way marking could be better here. There has been an outbreak of the new stainless steel lamp posts here, which has probably removed a lot of the way marking stickers. It is nice to be reminded that one is still on the correct path.
At the junction is a shop that just looks wrong. It sells electronic goods but was built for a different purpose, my guess is a traditional chip shop / cafe kind of place.

It once was a…

Methil.
Further down the road you come to the nondescript modern Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital and then after that the old hospital, rich with the architecture of its day, looking grand with its clock tower and stone carving, proudly declaring that it was built in 1908.

Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital

On the other side of the road the view is dominated by the massive experimental wind turbine operated by the strangely titled ORE Catapult company in what was the RGC Offshore Construction Yard, who built massive platforms for the oil industry in the 1980s. Today it is The Fife Energy Park.

Wind Turbine, Methil

The road comes to a four way junction, the FCP isn’t well way marked here, you turn right and head down hill. Just before you do have a look among the trees to your right and see the top of an underground command bunker that controlled a submarine mine field off Methil harbour. The entrance to the bunker has been filled in and would make for an interesting visitor attraction. These bunkers are fairly rare, certainly it’s the first one that I have seen.

Command post

Armour plate shutters were here

The FCP heads down hill to a roundabout, cross the road before you get there and follow the footpath along side the Energy Park. Over on the right is the old Methil Goods Yard. The station is now being used by a removals company.

The road comes to a roundabout, go straight on, into the quiet road ahead, you can follow the road to the right, they both end up at the same point but the ahead route is quieter and there’s more to look at along the High Street. Admittedly this isn’t the best shopping area in the world, times have changed in Methil and things have got harder for the folk that live there.
I had a very short glimpse of a poacher at work. A Sparrow Hawk was perched on the fence of a house waiting for a small bird to come to the bird feeding table, I managed to get one, pathetic shot of it with my little camera, I’ve even pointed it out for you!

The Poacher

The High Street will eventually join the bypass alongside the docks. I crossed over to the dock side of the road, following the road all the way to a roundabout in front of a Shell Filling Station. Turn right and cross over the Bawbee Bridge, proudly opened by none other than the Rt. Ho. J.S. Maclay MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, 1st November 1957.

Leven.
Continue on the footpath, passing the Swimming Pool, until you come to the river, which just happens to the outfall of Loch Leven.

Leven outfall

You are now in the resort town of Leven. Strange how things go, I came here as a child in the 1960s and had a great time.
You now have the option of continuing along the promenade or “Going Coastal” along the beach. I opted to go coastal, with a photo of the oil rigs that have been my offshore companions all the way up from East Wemyss to my right.

Three Rigs, Leven

I shot this couple trying to get the shipping forecast by listening to a sea shell. I saved them the bother as I had just picked up one earlier and gave them the Forth report. They already had the one for Dog-ger.

The Shipping Forecast

The way ahead is dominated by the volcanic mound of Largo Law, one of a number of volcanic outlets linked to East and West Lomond.

Leven Beach panorama

This area was also a supposed likely spot for a German invasion during WW2 so the Town Council hid all the deck chairs, mined the beach, strung out the barbed wire and erected some anti-glider poles in the sand, some of which still survive.

Anti-invasion obstacle

I thought I found a live shell on the beach but it was a dud, although I don’t know if that was its name.

Shell

I thought that I would go closer to the water to get a shot of the surf and the Law, so checking the line of foam on the beach I stood by it only to discover the “seventh wave,” which shot past the line of foam and over my boots. The things that I do for a photo.

Wet feet

A small burn crosses the beach and it’s not much of a problem to charge on and cross at a wide shallow bit. There then follows a long pleasant walk along the beach, past some holiday caravans towards Lundin Links.

Daft Dug, Lundin Links

 

One last look at the oil rigs

Three Rigs, Lundin Links

Continue up the beach until nearly at Lundin Links to another burn crossing the beach, then head ashore as there should be a FCP sign on the sand dune. Go up to the sign and cross the burn by the little wooden bridge. There’s an XL sized cube, which blocked the burn from invading German tanks.

Big cube

There are more cubes in the sand along the Golf Course.

Cubes in the sand

Lundin Links.
The way ahead isn’t very clear but look both ways for golfers and golf balls, then follow the little burn inland heading towards a sewage treatment plant and onto a dirt road. Turn right here and head to the houses, and follow path beside the golf course. The road comes to a junction and the FCP goes off to the right towards the Club House.
If you fancy something to eat, then the small cafe at the Homelands Trust on the right is recommended. It’s well priced and the service is very friendly, although only open during lunch hours. My plan was to stop at the hotel in Largo but I am really glad that I stopped at the Homelands Trust cafe.

Homelands Trust

The view back to Leven

My original intention was to walk as far as the car park at the end of Lower Largo and get the bus back to my starting point but I was feeling so good and my feet hardly hurt at all so I decided to continue on to Elie and this brings me to the end of part one… but there’s one things for sure….

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