Leven to Elie walking the Fife Coastal Path
If you’ve been following our walking adventures on the Fife Coastal Path, you’ll notice that we last posted a walk from Burntisland to Dysart. We’ll have the section from Dysart to Leven written up in due course, but having completed the 10 mile section from Leven to Elie, we can’t wait to share this part of the walk with you!
There’s a car park on the seafront at Leven just by Pleasureland, where we left our car, but if you’re travelling to Leven by bus, the hourly 95 coastliner service will bring you from your base at Sandcastle Cottage Crail, to Leven bus station. From the bus station, head towards the coast and turn left!
We use the Footprint map of the Fife Coastal Path, and the Leven to Elie walk is in Section 4 of the guide. We started between mile 45 and 46 and finised at around mile 55 – so approximately 10 miles. It took us from 11:15 am to around 5 pm, but I stop (a lot) for photographs. Today’s photography tally was over 200 shots! As we started out the tide was coming in covering the beach and rapidly reducing the area we had for beach walking.
As we neared the end of the section past Lundin Links clubhouse, one of 4 golf courses we would pass on the walk , (the others being Leven Links, Scoonie and Elie), we asked a local dog-walker whether it was necessary to cross the golf course, or if we could keep to the beach.
We were pleased to discover that we could approach Lower Largo from the beach path as there is access beyond the Lundin Links Clubhouse via a beach path which leads up to the roadway. Once on the road we decided to head for the Crusoe Hotel where I was able to empty the sand from my walking shoes and have a quick coffee.
A feast for the eyes awaited us just a little further along the road through Lower Largo as we happened upon the garden of Alan Faulds, Sculptor and saw his amazing “Malagan” statue on display as well as the brilliant pieces on gates on either side of the road. Lots to interest and amuse.
Lower Largo must be an inspirational place to live and work!
Further along the street from the Crusoe Hotel, you’ll find a statue of Alexander Selkirk, the castaway whose story Daniel Defoe used for his story “Robinson Crusoe”. The cottage on which the statue has been erected is the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk. Just opposite, you’ll find a cottage called “Friday”!
Just before the end of the coastal houses, you’ll find a path leading up to the old railway line at Lower Largo which the Fife Coastal Path follows for a while. At this time of year, the flowers blooming by the path put me in mind of the machair of the Outer Hebrides, which we’ve recently visited. Beautiful colours and lots of insect life to spot too.
Unfortunately for our plans, the high tide at this time of day meant that we were best to follow the high tide path through the dunes along the beach rather than walking on the beach itself. The last time we walked this section it was at low tide, and we had our children with us so we had a lovely time beachcombing as we walked along. The wide open views and cloud formations made for great sights as we walked.
The dunes path was a little tricky to negotiate as it was so full of grasses and flowers at this time, and some walkers coming in the opposite direction were a little uncharitable, remarking that it didn’t really live up to the name of “path”. We had our walking poles and were able to push aside some of the thornier undergrowth.
From the far end of the stretch of Dumbarnie Wildlife Reserve, we looked back along the beach and saw the outline of the Lomond Hills – East and West Lomond in the distance.
We continued on, passing the caravan site at Shell Bay, and found a sign there asking us to look out for a rare small butterfly called the Northern Brown Argus. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any on this walk, but we did see a Ringlet, 6-Spot Burnet and Meadow Brown above the ripening barley in the fields leading to Kincraig Point.
The climb up to Kincraig Point is short and steep, but stepped all the way so not too difficult to accomplish. It’s definitely worth it for the views out over the Forth towards the East Lothian Coastline where you can spot the Bass Rock and Berwick Law.
Curiously, we caught a glimpse of this chap dressed for snorkelling rather than walking. He and some companions were diving just beyond the rocks where you can find the Elie Chain Walk. The Fife Coastal Path map indicates that the ‘Chainwalk’ is an exciting and unique scramble along cliffs using chains for handrails. The map advises that it is suitable for fit, experienced walkers with a good head for heights, and that it is best done east to west. As we were walking west to east, we saw a sign indicating that there had been recent rock falls at the site of the Chain Walk, so we had two good excuses for not attempting it. Neither of us is particularly good with heights. On the afternoon after our walk, the Anstruther Lifeboat crew were called to the area to assist some walkers who had got into trouble there and had to be winched to rescue by the Scottish Coastguard helicopter, so be advised if you’re walking in this area and take appropriate precautions.
Commenting on the rescue, Anstruther Lifeboat Press Officer Martin Macnamara said, “With such an excellent coastal walking facility like the chain walk on our doorstep, it is important for the public to take into consideration the three key safety precautions before and during any use of the walk. Plan accordingly your walk with the tides, inform others of your intentions to use the chain walk and the times to expect your return and finally, if you do encounter any difficulties, remain at the foot of the cliff back from the waters’ edge and call the coastguard to request further assist.” (How to Call the Coastguard: If you are off the coast of the UK, you can dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.)
We enjoyed a little rest at the top of Kincraig Point and the fine views in all directions. Reviewing my photographs later, I particularly liked this view where I’d homed in on the Isle of May in the distance, with Earlsferry in the foreground and Elie Harbour beach with Woodhaven/Ruby Bay just to the right of the picture.
As we approached Earlsferry there were some fabulous views over West Bay and Elie Golf course. The tide was just starting to go out again, but we kept to the path along the side of the golf course until it was safe to cross at the point indicated by the Fife Coastal Path signs.
From Chapel Ness at Earlsferry there were views along Elie Harbour Beach, but as it was nearing 5 pm by this time, we chose to take the road way along through Earlsferry to Elie High Street.
We had a destination in mid: Carol’s Shop in Elie High Street, which we were delighted to find was still open for two tubs of delicious ice cream to keep us going while we waited for the bus to Leven where we’d left the car.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our walk on this 10-mile section of the Fife Coastal Path from Leven to Elie. We would recommend taking a picnic for this walk unless you have stopped in Lower Largo for lunch as there isn’t anywhere to buy food or drink between Lower Largo and Shell Bay Caravan Site (where there is the Mirador Cafe and Takeaway). We have walked the East Neuk sections many times, but found this section was less busy and provided good views, interesting wildlife and insect life to spot and a great vista from the top of Kincraig Point which must be one of the highest points on the whole 117 mile walk. Let us know if you enjoy a walk here too!
Stay at Sandcastle Cottage in Crail
If you’re planning on walking the whole of the Fife Coastal Path over a week or a fortnight, then Sandcastle Cottage is situated right on the path at mile 65.5 of the 117 mile walk. From Crail you can catch the 95 bus to Leven Bus Station to walk in this area. We’d love to welcome you to Crail, so check availability at Sandcastle Cottage by putting your preferred start date into the ‘Book Now’ box on this page for more information.
Further information about Walking the Fife Coastal Path
Fife Coastal Path – Section 4 Buckhaven to Elie