Walking: Fife Coastal Path

Wednesday called out for a day trip, and the weather around the Firth of Forth was going to be bonny. And so we found ourselves hopping it to North Queensferry on the train, a 20-minute ride. Our goal: Walk a stage of the Fife Coastal Path, one of Scotland’s long-distance routes.

From the train, you can see progress on the new bridge across the Firth. It’ll open in 2016. The towers of the new bridge are visible behind the Forth Road Bridge, completed in 1964.

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This 12-mile stage of the Path would take us from the Waterloo Monument at North Queensferry to the town of Burntisland. Nice spot to start a dander*: at the foot of the mighty Forth (Rail) Bridge, that Victorian-era marvel that spans the Firth.

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IMG_1302The FCP winds out of town, past a quarry by the water, and loops around a former shipbreaking facility, now a scrap metal lot. A wee gentleman inquired as to how our day was going and explained how we might find a shortcut through Inverkeithing (the next town) and let it be known that he wouldn’t live anywhere but Scotland.

Inverkeithing has a very old Mercat Cross, and a train station with good toilets, and undoubtedly other things.

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The FCP cruises through these towns along the way, but a lot of it is coastline. As its name suggests. The views are across the estuary back toward Edinburgh, in fact.

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That’s a look back toward the Forth Bridge.

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Signs along Dalgety Bay note the presence of radioactive material on the beach. Theories about this include the dumping of incinerated World War II planes and their instruments into the sea (radiated glow-in-the-dark dials might be an explanation), which coastal erosion has exposed.

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Along the way, the ruins of St. Bridget’s Kirk loom at the water’s edge. It was built in the 1100s, and discontinued in 1830. The cemetery used to be raided for fresh specimens by grave-robbers who could take the goods back to Edinburgh.

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Having left our flat in a hurry and not packed our own pieces**, we needed lunch in Aberdour. Uh, I think we’ll pass on the mussels – especially if they come from Dalgety Bay.

We had asked for a lunch recommendation in the previous town, from a man who helped us when we got just barely lost (not the wee man, but a friendly chap who had recently retired and had some good advice for how to manage your retirement). The toasties at McTaggart’s really hit the spot.

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At St. Fillan’s Church, Aberdour, there are some intricate grave makers.

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A bluff called Hawkcraig makes a dramatic viewpoint. We’d read a gravestone in the St. Fillan’s boneyard that referred to a young man who fell from Hawkcraig and “died on the spot.” Many generations ago. Before the PV/solar panels were installed on this house (hotel), anyway.

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Here’s Silver Sands beach. That’s why they call it Scotland’s Riviera. They really do!

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Home stretch now: The view toward Burntisland. Say, “Burnt-island.”

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A cool waterfall crafts weird shapes out of the mud of the hillside. Either that, or this radioactive thing has gotten out of hand.

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Vocab:

* dander: a stroll

** pieces: sandwiches

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