Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans is a 7 mile circular walk which took us 3.5 hours. Starting in Pittenweem, walking through Balcaskie Estate, Abercrombie village, St Monans and back to Pittenweem. The route is relatively flat along small country roads, good paths through open farmland with fine views to Berwick Law and the Bass Rock. The return from St Monans is along the Fife Coastal Path.

How to get there:

By Car

From Crail take the A917 west through Anstruther and continue to Pittenweem. Take a left down University Avenue to the car park at West Braes. You can park there all day for free.

By Bus

From Crail take the 95 bus to Pittenweem which leaves from Crail High Street.

Preparation for the Walk

I would recommend that you bought some food to take with you as there are no shops to buy food until you reach St Monans. Public Toilets can be found at West Braes Pittenweem at the start or end of the walk and Hope Place St Monans.

Start of the Walk:

From the car park walk back up University Avenue to the A917. Take a right turning and then first left into Charles Street. If you are travelling to Pittenweem by bus the nearest stop to Charles Street is near the West End Bar.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - West Shore Pittenweem
View of West Shore Pittenweem from the car park at West Braes

Proceed up Charles Street and out of Pittenweem following the track on the left hand side of the road.

Pittenweem and the East Neuk Railway

Just out of Pittenweem the road takes you over an old humped back bridge. Underneath was the track of the East Neuk Railway Line which ran along the coast from St Andrews to Leven. The line was closed as part of the Beeching Cuts in September 1965 and very little of the track remains. if you look over the bridge the house was the former station building and railway yard. The electricity pylons follow roughly the line of the track. If you want to find out more about the East Neuk Railway Line click on this link which will take you to my railway walk from Kingsbarns to Crail.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - The Old Pittenweem Railway Station
Pittenweem Railway Station now a private house

Continue past the Recycling Centre on the left and across another stone bridge crossing the Dreel Burn. As the road bends to the right you should take a left and follow the sign for Inch Farm. Proceed up a narrow tarmac road with a beech hedge on either side. It’s not long before you are treated to some lovely views across the fields toward the Firth of Forth and the Bass Rock. To your right is Kellie Law and the subject of one of my other blogs.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans road to Inch Farm
Follow the sign for Inch Farm

We did this walk in springtime with swallows flying overhead, fields of young barley and yellow broom on the sides of Kellie Law.

Inch Farm a family connection

Inch Farm is only a short walk with its attractive farmhouse and distinctive green sheds. I discovered during research into my family history that my great grandfather Archie Mitchell worked as a ploughman on Inch Farm in the late 1800’s. The picture below shows Archie with his horse. We think that this was taken at Inch Farm.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - Archie Mitchell
Archie Mitchell at Inch Farm
Inch Fam the family connection
Inch Farm Cottages. Archie may have stayed here

When you come to the farm cottages where my great grandfather may well have stayed take a left and follow the tarmac road lined with beech hedges. At the end of the road you will find two attractive doocots built between 1886 and 1911 and an attractive gatehouse. This is the entrance to Balcaskie House. The tree lined road is particularly attractive with grass verges on either side. We were lucky to spot wild Orchids and Candelabra Primulas.

Road to Balcaskie House
Follow the track from Inch toward the gates to Balcaskie House
Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - Gates to Balcaskie House
Entrance to Balcaskie House
Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - Doocot at the Gatehouse to Balcaskie
One of the two Doocots at the Gates
Wild Orchid
Wild Orchid
Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans Candelabra Primula
Candelabra Primula
Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - Tree Lined Road to Balcaskie House
Tree Lined Drive to Balcaskie House where we found the wild Orchids and Candelabra Primula
Berwick law and the Firth of Forth
View across the Forth to Berwick Law

Walk past the refurbished stable block and the house on the left. Sadly the house and grounds are not open to the public so please respect the owners privacy.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans – Balcaskie House

However I will give you a look at the grounds as I was fortunate to attend and open day at Balcaskie a couple of years back and took these pictures of the house and grounds below. The house was the creation of the architect William Bruce who also designed the Palace of Holyrood House. Later additions were added by the architect William Burn.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans - Balcaskie House
Balcaskie House taken on an open day in 2017
Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans Balcaskie House and Grounds
The garden at Balcaskie taken during an open day in 2017

Balcaskie Estate has been in the Anstruther Family since the end of the 17th century. The present owner Toby Anstruther lives in the house with his wife and family.

Balcaskie Estate East Neuk of Fife
Pass the house on the left and continue down this road taking a first left

Continue on the road past the house and take a left down another tarmac road walking toward an attractive stone bridge across the Dreel Burn.

Chapel Wood and Abercrombie Church

Just past the stone bridge you will find an earthen path on the left taking you through Chapel Wood. After only a short walk into the wood take a right. At the top of the path look for a wooden gate. Tucked in on the left are the ruins of Abercrombie Church. This is also the burial plots for the Anstruther family and there are a number of prominent members of the family buried there some very recently.

Path to Abercrombie Kirk
Follow the path with gate at the top. Abercromby Church is on the left
The ruined Abercrombie Church
Abercrombie Church

Proceed through the gate and down the side of the field where you will come to the main road. Cross the road and follow the sign for Abercrombie Village. Abercrombie is only a short walk from the road with its attractive little cottages and gardens.

Path from Abercrombie Kirk to Abercrombie Village
Follow the path at the side of the field toward the main road and Abercrombie Village
Walking through Abercrombie Village
Abercrombie Village

Continue through the village and follow the path at the side of the road all the way into St Monans. From here you will be treated again to views toward the Old Kirk, the Firth of Forth and Berwick Law.

St Monans Harbour

When you reach St Monans cross the road and proceed down Station Road. The industrial estate on your left was the site of St Monans Railway station on the East Neuk Line. The entrance to the station yard is all that remains today.

The entrance to St Monans
Flower tub at the top of Station Road

Continue down Station Road toward the harbour. There are public toilets signposted off Station Road in Hope Place next to the tennis courts and bowling green if you are in need of a comfort break.

St Monans Harbour and Auld kirk
St Monans House and Old Kirk
East Pier Smokehouse St Monans Harbour
East Pier Smokehouse St Monans Harbour

At the harbour take a left and follow the signs for the Fife Coastal Path. This is a very attractive walk part of the Fife Coastal Path taking in St Monans Windmill and the old Saltpans. The good news is, it’s only 1.5 miles back to Pittenweem.

Follow the signs for the Fife Coastal Path from St Monans to Pittenweem
Follow the signs for the Fife Coastal Path back to Pittenweem
St Monans Windmill
St Monans Windmill

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans – The West Braes Project

As you come to Pittenweem and the car park at West Braes it’s worth mentioning the West Braes Project. The project has led to the restoration of the outdoor swimming pool and crazy golf course. We came across few hardy souls known locally as the Menopausal Mermaids swimming in the pool.

The Menopausal Mermaids of Pittenweem
Menopausal Mermaids swimming in the recently restored outdoor pool at West Braes Pittenweem
Menopausal Mermaids of Pittenweem
Menopausal Mermaids

A swim in the new outdoor pool may be a fitting end to your walk from Pittenweem to Balcaskie and St Monans.

Pittenweem Balcaskie and St Monans – Places to Eat

Bistro Dorey Pittenweem Harbour

East Pier Smokehouse St Monans Harbour

Craig Millar Restaurant 16 West End St Monans Harbour

Staying at Sandcastle Cottage Crail

If you would like to find out more about staying at Sandcastle Cottage in Crail then click this link. If you would like to book with us click the Book Now button below. We look forward to welcoming you to Sandcastle Cottage.

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