Elie to Anstruther – A summer coastal walk on the Fife Coastal Path with lunch at St Monans
Elie to Anstruther, our walk on the East Neuk section of the Fife Coastal Path. On a glorious summer’s day in August, we headed to Elie for a stroll on the Fife Coastal Path with the idea that we would arrive in St Monans just in time for lunch at the East Pier Smokehouse.The length and difficulty of this section of the Fife Coastal Path makes it ideal for short walks for all, and has the added attraction of several foodie destinations en route making for a most enjoyable day out.
The Stagecoach service 95 Coastliner is an hourly bus service through the East Neuk villages, and therefore this is one of the most accessible sections of the path if you want to walk one way and catch the bus back to your starting point.
We set off from Elie around 10:30, taking the path from the bus stop in the centre of the High Street to Ruby Bay where there is plenty of car parking should you decide to park and walk. From here you can see back to the harbour area, and the long sweep of sand towards Earlsferry. Ahead of you you will see the lighthouse and a little further along you’ll find Lady’s Tower which is a ruin now. It was built in the 1700s for Lady Janet Anstruther to use as a changing area when heading into the sea to bathe. So remember your swimming costume if you want to do the same!
The Lady’s Tower
Lady Anstruther enjoyed bathing naked. She sent a bell ringer round the town of Elie warning the locals to “keep away”. Lady Janet was also responsible for the removal of a local hamlet Balclevie in 1771 in order to improve her view from Elie House. A local fortune teller was thought to have imposed a curse on the Anstruthers saying that only six generations of the family would ever live in the house. Her prediction came true.
From this point, as it was such a clear day, we could already see St Monans, Pittenweem, and Anstruther in the distance and there were also great views over to East Lothian towards Berwick Law, the Bass Rock and the Isle of May.
As we passed the beach near Ardross Farm we heard the gentle tap tap of the hammers of some fossil hunters who were exploring the rocky coastline.
Looking back to our starting point we could even see the Pentland Hills behind Edinburgh on the other side of the Forth.
Elie to Anstruther – A walk along the Fife Coastal Path
There is a gentle climb up to the ruins of Newark Castle, but the ruins are unsafe, so best not to go exploring around there. By 12 noon we were descending towards St Monans Old Kirk and could see the East Pier Smokehouse in the distance, which meant it was almost time for lunch! It was low tide when we arrived at the Old Kirk so it was easy to use the path along the sea shore, but there’s an alternative if you find that the tide is high when you arrive there. The Old Kirk may be familiar as it’s been used in several films, including The Railway Man which starred Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
Pause for a few moments to take a look at the quirky Welly Garden at St Monans Harbour.
Elie to Anstruther – Lunch at St Monans
Our morning’s walk had set up a good appetite for lunch at the East Pier Smokehouse where we were able to climb to the rooftop terrace and enjoy a seat in the sun with stunning views in all directions. Lunch at the Smokehouse includes a choice of local delicacies such as hot smoked salmon (served with a generous portion of chips for hungry walkers).
We could see that plenty of diners had also chosen to stop at Craig Millar’s 16 West End restaurant where they were enjoying the sun on the terrace too.
Appetites satisfied, we headed along the coast past the St Monans windmill and saltpans.
We were soon in Pittenweem where we decided we weren’t quite ready yet for a stop at the Pittenweem Ice Cream shop.
At the top of the path leading into Pittenweem there were fantastic views all round and we took a look at the refurbished Crazy Golf Course.
Looking down towards Pittenweem from our vantage point:
View towards the Isle of May on this glorious summer’s day.
On the path into Pittenweem.
We were unfortunately too late to sample the vintage champagne at Pittenweem – only empty bottles left! This is one of the bicycles decorated for the annual Pittenweem Arts Festival.
Artists painting the scenes at Pittenweem Harbour.
As you approach Anstruther the coastal path shares space with the Anstruther Golf Course, so take your time and make sure that you watch out for golfers playing through.
Billowness Beach is by the path just as you approach the clubhouse for Anstruther Golf Club – a popular spot for paddling which might be of interest to our younger guests.
The Rockies Restaurant is situated at Anstruther Golf Club if you want an alternative place to stop for lunch on another walk on the Fife Coastal Path.
Rounding the “Buckie House Corner” at Anstruther. The house is decorated with scallop shells and whelks,(or Buckies). In the mid-1800s it was the home of Alex Batchelor, a well-known local eccentric. Robert Louis Stevenson visited the area with his grandfather at the time when Robert Stevenson was building the lighthouse on the Isle of May.
As the tide was still out we took the chance to use the stepping stones over the Dreel Burn to cross to Anstruther Shore Street where we ended our walk.
On our return to Elie we spotted these lovely sunflowers growing at Ardross Farm and couldn’t resist adding a final picture of them.
We had a choice of different places to enjoy an ice cream to round off our walk, as we arrived in Anstruther at around 3 pm. This time we opted for some delicious Jannettas Gelateria ice cream from Lisa’s Ice Cream Parlour.
Elie to Anstruther – Coastal Safety Markers
Fife Coast & Countryside Trust who manage the coastal path have installed 38 safety markers on the coastal path between Shell Bay Elie and Kingsbarns. the project has been run in partnership with RNLI Anstruther Community Safety Team, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, Police Scotland and Waid Academy.
Should people find themselves in difficulties, they can give their nearest post number to the emergency services to give an accurate location. all post locations are held by the emergency services, meaning that they know exactly where each postis and the best access point for each one. this cuts down response times when every minute is vital.
If you would like more information click this link
Stay in the East Neuk and Walk the Fife Coastal Path
Base yourself at Sandcastle Cottage, Crail as an ideal place from which to walk the Fife Coastal Path from Leven through to the end-point at Newburgh. For more details on walking the Fife Coastal Path see our guide for tips and suggestions by clicking this link. We look forward to welcoming you to Sandcastle Cottage Crail. Take a look around our website for more ideas, or if you’re ready to book, here’s a handy link:
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Blog updated January 2024