Fife Pilgrim Way is a 64 mile (104km) long distance footpath starting at North Queensferry or Culross through Central Fife and ending in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral.
The section between the picturesque village of Ceres and St Andrews is 9.5 miles (15.3km). The route takes you out over rolling farmland towards Drumcarrow Craig, the Hamlet of Denhead, Craigtoun Park and along the Lade Braes to St Andrews. This is a part which is popular with walkers and one I would recommend.
How to Get There:
We drove to St Andrews and parked in the car park in Argyle Street. There is a 64 Moffat & Williamson bus which leaves from the stop outside Blackfriars Chapel in South Street (see Blackfriars Chapel Photo at the foot of this blog) and stops in the centre of Ceres. For bus timetables click these links. https://moffat-williamson.co.uk/timetable/service-64-mon-sat https://moffat-williamson.co.uk/timetable/service-64-sunday
Public toilets are located at the bus stop in Ceres.
Fife Pilgrim Way – Ceres to St Andrews
This section of the Fife Pilgrim Way starts in the car park in the centre of Ceres.
Start by crossing the old bridge over the Ceres Burn. On the left is the Fife Folk Museum.
Fife Folk Museum
The museum houses a collection of agricultural machinery, weights and measures housed in an original Weigh House, textiles including shawls, patchwork bedspreads, domestic pottery and craftsman’s tools. There is also a small library of photographs, letters and maps, quizzes for children, outdoor exhibits and a shop and cafe.
For more details click this link which takes you to the website.
Other attractions are the village green which hosts Ceres Highland Games annually in June and the old church which can be seen from many vantage points on the route.
Ceres is also home to the Wemyss Ware Pottery brand.
From the Folk Museum proceed down Castlegate and take a right turn on to Schoolhill passing the present Ceres Primary School. The waymarkers on the lamp posts are small and easily missed.
At the end of Schoolhill take the path marked “Footpath to Callange”. We found the path overgrown with lots of nettles, so wearing shorts is probably not a good idea. However the path soon lead to a farm road offering us some fine views across the fields back toward Ceres.
Follow the farm road until you come to a way marker directing you down the side of a large field with the village of Pitscottie in front of you. At the bottom of the field you will come to another farm road. This is also an off road cycle track popular with cyclists. Follow the cycle track until you come to one of the main roads leading down toward Pitscottie. Cross the road and look for a sign marked Kininmonth.
From the family tree I found that my great grandfather James Syme had died at Kininmonth Farm in 1936. I was keen to find out more about the family connection. In conversation with my cousin Kathleen Redman she told me that her late father, my Uncle Roy Syme, worked there as a young man and rode his horse from the farm to Pitscottie. With the help of Fife Family History Society I found that James on the death of his wife Barbara went to live with his son George who was the tenant farmer in 1935. Also living there were his sisters Janet, Mary, Lilias. My mother referred to them as the “old aunties”. Latterly George went to live in Ceres and the aunties Craigrothie.
The farm is now owned and managed by the Stewart family.
After the farm pass the cottages on the left and proceed up toward Kininmonth Hill. Don’t forget to look back and take in the views towards East and West Lomond.
At the end of the farm road you will come to a single track road with houses on the right. This is the hamlet of Ladeddie. The hill to the left with telephone masts on the top is Drumcarrow Craig. It is worth a slight detour to enjoy more splendid views and a first glimpse of St Andrews.
On the top of Drumcarrow Craig if you look due south, you can just see the village of Peat Inn. Most people know Peat Inn for its hotel and fine dining restaurant.
However Peat Inn has a different memory for me. I could see the small white cottage called Summercraig. It was the home of John and Nan Smith who were my father’s uncle and aunt. We called them Uncle John and Auntie Nan. Jock as he was know, worked for the Rabbit Clearance Board. His job was to control the rabbit population in the area. I remember him showing me how to skin a rabbit. Start from the bottom up he told me, it’s just like taking of your jumper.
Uncle John was a keen gardener and grew all his own vegetables. Nan baked all her own cakes. The apple tarts and strawberry tarts were better than you can buy in any bakers today.
Uncle John kept Ferrets in a cage outside, vicious little bruts they were. He used to put them down the rabbit holes to flush the rabbits out so that he could trap and kill them.
This is a way of life which has all but died out but was very prevalent in this area forty years ago.
Onward toward St Andrews
After Drumcarrow Craig the route joins a main road which is the only part of the path which requires you to walk on a trunk road with traffic. Thankfully, the day we did the walk it was not too busy.
Continue over the brow of the hill taking a right turn toward the small hamlet of Denhead. There are some lovely little cottages here with attractive gardens.
After Denhead you will find a wall on the right and a wooded area. Behind this is the Dukes Golf Course. Look out for a gap in the wall and a signpost directing you to Craigtoun Park and St Andrews. This was a welcome lunch break for us at the picnic tables as you enter the park. There are also public toilets nearby.
Mount Melville Estate
Craigtoun was the original name given to the Mount Melville Estate. This was one of many estates owned by the Melville family. First established in 1698 for General George Melville of Strathkinness. In the 18th century General Robert Melville undertook landscaping establishing a garden which was the basis of what is now Craigtoun Park.
The estate was sold in 1901 to Dr James Younger of the Younger brewing family. He commissioned the architect Paul Waterhouse to design a new mansion house and carry out further landscaping creating a walled garden, cypress avenue, rose garden and italian garden.
Waterhouse carried out further work in 1920 adding two lakes and the picturesque Dutch Village. The lakes were added to comply with insurance regulations at the time. Large country houses being required to provide a supply of water in case of fire.
Craigtoun Hospital and Craigtoun Park
In 1947 the house and grounds were bought by Fife County Council. The house became a maternity hospital. The park renamed Craigtoun has been added to over the years.
It reached its peak in the 1960’s as a tourist and day tripper destination with children’s shows, concerts on Sunday, glasshouses, miniature railway, putting green, crazy golf, boating pond, motor boats and the famous Puffin Billy (a tractor drawn train). At the end of the season in September Craigtoun staged a spectacular fireworks display, Craigtoun Illuminations.
In 2012 a group known as the Friends of Craigtoun was formed.
They now work in partnership with the local authority to revive the fortunes of the park. Their hard work and dedication is the reason why the park still attracts a great many tourists and day trippers today.
In 1947 the house became a maternity hospital and the birthplace of many St Andreans including myself in 1956.
The hospital was designed by the then Fife Country Architect R S Lawrie to provide accommodation for 40 patients and as many nursing and domestic staff.
The intention was to depart from the traditional hospital and create an atmosphere of a guest house. On the ground floor was an isolation theatre, labour room, operating theatre, sterilising departments, patients ward, two nurseries and a sunparlour. On the first floor were further wards, nurseries and medical rooms as well as 24 bedrooms for sisters and nurses.
The matron and assistant matron were provided with suites comprising of sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. The floors of the wards, nurseries and medical rooms were laid in terrazo and the walls were enamel coated.
Plans were drawn up in 1978 to convert part of the ground floor into a 31 bed geriatric unit. However this was short term and the hospital closed in 1992.
The house and grounds were sold to the current owner of the Old Course Hotel Golf and Country Club. The Dukes Golf Course was developed in the grounds. The house stands empty and is currently on the buildings at risk register.
Fife Pilgrim Way – Craigtoun Park to St Andrews
Walk through the park following the waymarkers. Look out for the Dutch Village and many of the other features mentioned. You are now on the home stretch towards St Andrews.
The path leaves the park at the side of the putting green and enters a patch of woodland with a small burn flowing on the right. Cross the road and take the path marked Lumbo Den.
The path approaches the outskirts of St Andrews in a part of the town known as Bogward.
Fife Pilgrim Way – Bogward Doocot
In the 16th century doo’s (pigeons) were kept in a doocot by the monks of the St Andrews Priory.
There were several doocots located around St Andrews.
If you look at the picture below you will see that this doocot is shaped like a beehive. It has a revolving ladder inside giving access to the 800 nesting boxes.
The rat-courses of projecting stones outside stopped the rats scrambling up the walls for the eggs or the young birds.
After the doocot take the path towards Law Mill and the Lade Braes.
Fife Pilgrim Way – The Law Mill
The Law Mill was also owned by the monks of St Andrews Priory and dates from the 13th century. The mill had two sets of mill stones. One for grinding wheat flour, oats, barley and pease for meal. The other was used for waulking(fulling) cloth to tighten the weave.
The word Law is thought to come from the Anglo Saxon word “hlaw” or hill.
Hallow Hill, an ancient burial ground, can be seen just across the burn and accessed by a footbridge today.
The mill closed in 1905 and the upper pond became a haven for ducks and moorhens.
For more about the Lade Braes and the Law Mill read my blog “Walk the Lade Braes St Andrews”
This much loved walk takes you to Argyle Street, the West Port, South Street, Blackfriars Chapel and the end of the Fife Pilgrim Way in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral. For a free historical tour of St Andrews read my blog “St Andrews for First time Visitors” or for tips and suggestions on what to see and do, read my blog “A Day Trip to St Andrews a Day to Remember”
I do hope this blog will encourage you to walk this section of the Fife Pilgrim Way.
Recommended local pubs and places to eat
Janetta’s Gelateria South Street for the best Ice Cream in town
The Keys Bar Market Street for a great pint and meet the locals
Cromars or the Tailend Market Street for Fish and Chips
Forgan’s or The Adamson if you are looking for somewhere to go for dinner. Booking is advisable.
Accommodation – Stay at Sandcastle Cottage Crail
If you would like more details on Sandcastle Cottage click on this link.
To book with us, click the book now button which will take you directly to our booking page where you will find availability and prices.
We look forward to welcoming you to Sandcastle Cottage.
Planning your Walk
A couple of things you might like to buy to help you plan your walk
Thanks to the Friends of Craigtoun for information about the history of Craigtoun Park.
Fife Historic Hospitals
Planning a Trip to St Andrews?
Why not go on a free Historical Walking Tour click this link for details.
For ideas of what there is to see and do on a Day Trip to St Andrews. Click this link