Fife Coastal Path – Chain walk

Guest blog by Ordnance Survey’s Gwyn Hughes-Jones

This is a great 11 mile walk which takes in the picturesque Fife villages of Elie, St. Monans and Pittenweem.  You can also explore two low tide paths at St Monans and via Ferrata at Kingcraig Point – but make sure you get your tide times right!! You will need to use an OS Explorer Map 371 – St Andrews and East Fife.

Start the walk at the large car park, with toilets, in Lower Largo. Lower Largo is the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s legendary character Robinson Crusoe.

Follow the signs to the right marked the Fife Coastal Path. You can either wander along the beach or follow the footpath along the dunes. After just over 3km look out for a footpath sign which takes you over Cocklemill Burn and follow the Coastal Path signs through the Caravan Park at Shell Bay.  After exiting the Caravan Park follow the path as it hugs the coast for 1km towards Kincraig Point. At this point you can follow the coastal path along the Fife Chain Walk if the tides are in your favour to witness the spectacular displays of columnar basalt and sever sea caves. Check the tide times here.

I would not recommend this walk with young children or dogs as it is more of a Grade Two scramble at this point and includes seven stages of the walk with chains and steps cut into the rock to assist.  If this is beyond the capability of your party, stick to the upper path which goes up Kincraig Hill.


Once you emerge from the Chain Walk, follow the path as it skirts along Earlsferry Links. If you fancy a break, there are several cafes along the High Street in Elie; or you can crack on and follow the beach round to the harbour and rejoin the path.  Follow the Coastal Path for 2.5km towards St. Monans as it wanders past the Stevenson Lighthouse and Lady Janet Anstruther’s Summerhouse. Keep an eye out for the lectern-style doocot on your right at Ardross Castle.

If the tide is out when you reach Newark Castle you can follow the lower path past the Beehive doocot and the sea steps below the church. Cross the ford here and head inland through St. Monans, again following the signs for the Coastal Path. As you emerge on the east side of St. Monans, you will pass a windmill and the remains of salt workings. The windmill is the old pump for the salt works.

Follow the coast for another 2km until you enter the picturesque village of Pittenweem. Pittenweem holds an “Open Home” Arts Festival every year where local residents throw open their doors and invite artists to set up galleries to display their work for sale.   Alternatively there are also a number of local hostelries or cafes where you can celebrate the end of the walk.

Then, all that remains is to wander up through the village to the main road (A917) where you can catch the no. 95 bus back to Largo and your car (note: the bus stop is in Largo and you will need to walk the short distance to the car park; a bus timetable can be found here.

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2 Responses

  1. We were very interested to read your blog and we hope that you enjoyed your experience along the Fife Coastal Path. If you have any other feedback then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    We just wanted to highlight the fact that the Chain Walk is not part of the Coastal Path. The route of the path follows the path up Kincraig Hill and along the top. The brave folk who decide to detour along the Chai Walk then rejoin the route of the Coastal Path at that point.

    Thanks again for writing about the Coastal Path, we hope you will let us know about any other sections of the route that you take the time to explore.

    Best wishes
    Fife Coast and Countryside Trust

  2. James Henry

    It’s hardly necessary to dress like a mountaineer for the chain walk. As children in the fifties we did it in nothing but swimming trunks and sandals.

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