Adventures on a Coastal Path


The Bubble is a phrase that is thrown around a little too frequently in this town. The invisible veil that shrouds St Andrews makes it noticeably different from anywhere else in Scotland, but also prevents those who live here from branching out to experience the wonders that are found nearby.

Rather than travelling home during the breaks, I sought out adventures around Fife, and discovered a few gems on our doorstep – in particular the fishing villages of the East Neuk.

Most St Andrews students’ experience of this part of the county begins and ends with the Anstruther Fish Bar. Whilst it is an award winning fish and chip shop, those who have not walked around the village itself and along the coastal pathway are truly missing out.
The Fife coastal path stretches 150km from Newport-on-Tay to Culross on the Forth Estuary, passing through St Andrews on its way. A Fife day rider bus ticket at £6.80 is the cheapest way to travel and enables you to hop between the villages with ease. The route I chose started at Cellardyke, a quiet, spacious village, just prior to Anstruther. There was a line of washing hung up to dry against the back wall of the tiny harbour, demonstrating the trust and dependence in this strong-spirited community.

Further along the coast, the picturesque harbour at Anstruther is alive with the clanging of brightly coloured fishing boats and old folk chatting outside the painted stone houses. The winding streets are a unique mix of old-fashioned independent shops, dotted with nautical themed inns and taverns. Each building seems to have a story to tell: one house is covered in seashells and others have ornate door-knockers, gargoyles and placards detailing the exploits of notable previous residents.

Anstruther has a certain quality that St. Andrews is missing. It is peaceful, calm and seems to thrive on its resilient social unity. There is no Starbucks or Tesco. The village is unpretentious, it feels traditional and ‘lived-in’, which is strange as the fishing industry it was built upon has almost died out. The economy is now supported mainly by tourism, and from my short visit, I can certainly see why people would chose to come here. The Scottish Fisheries museum represents the boundary between the town’s two trades. It is located on the harbour front and is open all year round.

About a 2.5 mile walk south along the Coastal path takes you to Pittenweem, offering great views out to the North Sea along the way. This village is similar to Anstruther, only smaller and with a cracking tea and chocolate shop. The Cocoa Tree, located on the High Street, sells exquisite chocolates and original hot drinks, such as rose-flavoured tea.

King James VI of Scotland described Fife as ‘fringed with gold’ in reference to its beautiful and geographically significant coastline. It is easy to overlook your own county when an exotic escape seems the most desirable thing. But taking a closer look, you might be surprised.

Kate Reid


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