This easy circular walk from Kingsbarns to Boarhills Beach and back along the Pitmilly Burn, will take you approximately 2.5 hours. The walk follows part of the Fife Coastal Path from Crail to St Andrews. The return is back across attractive countryside around the village of Kingsbarns.
Kingsbarns and Boarhills Beach – How to get there:
From Crail take the A917 to St Andrews. Kingsbarns is a 15 minute drive from Crail. Park your car in the Square next to the church.
Stagecoach 95 is an hourly service from Crail to Kingsbarns. There is a bus stop opposite the Square and the church.
The centre of the village is the Square with the Church and school on the opposite side of the road. The school dates from 1822 and is the oldest active primary school in Fife.
The church with its tall tower dominates the village and can be seen clearly from the surrounding countryside. The present church dates from 1811 to a design by the architect Robert Balfour. The top stage of the tower and octagonal slated spire date from 1866 is the creation of the architect George Rae.
Kingsbarns had its own railway station in 1887 on the East Neuk Line. However the only reference to the station remaining is Station Road on the west side of the square. If you would like to know more about the East Neuk Line and Kingsbarns Station click this link.
Over the last few years the village has seen a bit of a revival with the opening of Kingsbarns Golf Links in 2000. The course is now one of the venues for the annual Dunhill Links championship in October.
Kingsbarns and Boarhills Beach – Start of the Walk:
From the Square take a right turn past the entrance to the church. Continue past the Kingsbarns Inn and out of the village keeping to the path on the right hand side of the road. In front of you is Sandyhill Farm and you will find a track off to the right. Walk down this track with stone walls on either side all the way to the beach.
This is an attractive sandy beach which is pretty much deserted even on hot sunny days. In the summer you can see gannets and arctic terns diving for fish just offshore. Other seabirds include Cormorants, Oyster Catchers, Redshanks and Curlews. On a clear day you can spot the Bell Rock Lighthouse. For those interested in geology there are many interesting volcanic rock formations along this part of the coast.
Continue along the beach towards the green derelict chalet and round Airbow Point. The path can be narrow here but perfectly safe for walking even at high tide. As we continued towards Boarhills Beach we spotted some Brent Geese in one of the fields. Brent Geese migrate here during the winter months and return to the high Arctic Tundra to breed in summer. We also found them breeding in the UK.
As the path rounds Babbet Ness you come to one of the most picturesque beaches in Fife. The small sheltered sandy beach with its derelict fisherman’s cottage is a real hidden gem. Not many people know of its existence unless you have walked the Fife Coastal Path between Kingsbarns and St Andrews. In summer this is an idyllic spot for a beach picnic or even a swim.
It was used by local farmers in the 19th Century for the export of potatoes. You can still see the stone cart track leading down to the beach.
From Boarhills beach you will pick up two signs. One leading toward the village of Boarhills the other leading up toward the main road.
Taking the left path from the beach follow the attractive woodland walk with the Kenly Burn on your right. You will find some derelict old mill buildings. These are the remains of the Hillhead Mill, a Grist Mill (grinding cereal grain into flour) and dating from 1713. The Crail Mill, further upstream was a Flax Mill and still bears the date of 1790. Both mills were powered by water from the Kenly Burn. The path will take you across a metal bridge and onwards up the road toward the village of Boarhills.
Boarhills is worth the detour just to see the attractive little cottages and gardens. Known as “Byrhilis” meaning a place where there were byers for cattle. The village was also known as Inch Mutach. The word Inch coming from Gaelic meaning good arable pasture ground.
The old schoolhouse unlike Kingsbarns has long since ceased to educate children and is now a private house. The church, built in 1866 with its distinctive bell tower, can be seen as you drive down the main road from St Andrews to Crail. Now today a private house but still retaining the character of the building.
Kingsbarns and Boarhills Beach – Back towards Kingsbarns
Time to retrace your steps back toward the beach and follow the path up toward the main road. At the top of the path you will come to a small cottage on the opposite side of the road. Cross the road, take a left and follow the grassy verge for approximately 200 yards with a high wall to your right. The high wall once surrounded the estate of Pitmilly.
Kingsbarns and Boarhills Beach – Pitmilly House
There was a large house and walled garden owned by the Moneypenny family. Before anyone asks, I have no idea as to whether Ian Fleming based his character Miss Moneypenny on any of the family members.
During World War II it became a billet for the Women’s Royal Naval Service. After the war the house was converted to a hotel. However it was badly damaged by fire in 1967 and was subsequently demolished shortly afterwards.
The Haunted House
I came across a book written by Lorn Macintyre called Pitmilly House Poltergeist Manor which tells of paranormal events in the house. If you are interested in reading this novel you can buy it by clicking the link below.
Take the farm track off to the left and follow this until you reach a stone bridge over the Pitmilly Burn and a right of way sign. At the signpost take a left and follow the path alongside the burn which will be on your left. The path is maintained by Morton of Pitmilly. See how many different types of trees you can spot along the way. Morton of Pitmilly have provided some information boards on what to look out for along the way.
Continue along the path until you come to a wooden bridge and the entrance to Morton of Pitmilly. Take a left at the end of the road and follow the road back toward Kingsbarns and the end of the walk.
I do hope you enjoy this walk as much as we did.
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