the cold coast: crail to st andrews

on our way from crail to st andrewswhen we wake up, the sun is coming in via the windows of the front facing double room. it’s rather cold and we quickly pack our stuff, have breakfast (finlay turns out to be a young man with, it seems, a slight hangover, and he and the young lady prepare breakfast for the guests all the while discussing the b&b business: finlay apparently is looking for an easier way of generating income and considers taking on lodgers instead of b&b guests, the cooking young lady proposes moving in and turning caiplie house into an “all inclusive b&b”; when we left, it seemed like finlay was not too hot on that idea), and then leave for the bit of the walk that we’ve been looking forward too all week: crail to st andrews.

on the OS map it looks quite remote, an impression reinforced by [hamish browns remark][] that one should make sure to have water and something to eat for this longest and roughest tour “that can easily take 8 hours.”

[hamish browns remark]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fife-Coastal-Path-Hamish-Brown/dp/1841830577/sr=8-4/qid=1161274738/ref=sr_1_4/026-1865464-3994057?ie=UTF8&s=books

oberver birdsthe sun is shining, the few remaining clouds keep to the edges of the sky — perfect πŸ™‚ from crail we first cross through a large but impeccably cared for caravan park with decidedly up-market trailers (some are larger than my apartment back home, and they do have a much better view to boot…) which eventually gives way to the pure, unadultered coast path…unadultered, that is, on the seaward side, the landward side, once the cliff has finished climbing up is: golf courses, golf courses, golf courses (did i mention that the landward side was taken up by golf courses?). the scenery is just fantastic: we climb up and down the cliffs, winding our way northwards and eastwards — at about 11:00 we reach fife ness, the end of fife: we cannot get any further eastwards than this. on the exposed rock surface below the lighthouse we have a little toast (the good glengannon whisky and a couple of scottish oak bisquits), enjoy the views and then turn the corner, so to speak, and it’s now north to north-by-northwest: towards st andrews.


kilminning castle getting through that style fife ness: celebrating the most easterly point of our walk...

on the left hand side (west) one golf course passes the ball on to the next, eventually we reach the wood that comes down from [cambo house][]: we divert for an hour and follow the path through cambo wood up to the house and the walled garden. it’s really worth the effort, the path follows the burn up through the wood to emerge next to the walled garden. the weather is still magnificent: very little clouds, lots of blue sky πŸ™‚


between wormistone hind and old haiks cambo walled garden (2) windfalls in cambo walled garden

[cambo house]: http://www.camboestate.com/

the walled garden is a mixture of fruit tree (lots of different apple trees with ripe and tempting apples) and flowers and grass. worth a visit!

back at the coastal path we realize that the surrounding golf course must be the one where the _alfred dunhill link championships_ will take place next week: already the coastal path route is staked by metal rods to seperate the riff-raff from the golfing & chattering classes. two teenagers check each and every rod and give it a lick of white paint: up, down, done, next.

high tide warningthe coast becomes increasingly rough: at a couple of places we find the sign “route follows beach for next half mile — at high tide please wait for tide to recede” — luckily, the tide is out for lunch when we pass, but the path is nevertheless fantastic and exciting, at times we need to climb boulders, negotiate our way through heaps of algae (yuck) and plod through soft sand. a fantastic walk!

walking up kenly water to hillheadat hillhead we meet a student asking us how far it was to crail. she was quite visibly exhausted already, and our reply that it would take probably about 4-5 hrs did not go down too well; we suggested that she try to aim for kingsbarns and fetch a bus there. she considers this and then walks on. hope she made it OK…

at buddo rock we reach the section of the walk that is marked as “problematic” both by hamish brown and by a sign on the path. so we proceed a bit cautiously but also expectantly, wondering what challenges lie ahead.


fields near boarhills buddo rock the village of boarhills

well, it just becomes better as we walk on: the path goes up and down the cliffs, crosses the occassional golf course, but in general is fairly easy to navigate.

at kinkell ness, just after we pass the rock and spindle rock formation, we pass the corner and — see sunny st andrews in the far distance!


rock & spindle st andrews!

at 1745 we arrive at our b&b for the next two nights: _[anlaw house][]._ mrs reid gives us a very warm welcome. the twin bed room is upstairs (somehow this little house is surprisingly spacious, [tardis][] would also be a good name for it πŸ™‚ and is quite nice! we unpack, take a shower and then give our niece, ms l, a call to arrange meeting for dinner: ms l suggests _[the oak room inn][]_ and we convene for a family meeting there.

[anlaw house]: http://www.anlawstandrews.co.uk/
[tardis]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TARDIS#Interior
[the oak room inn]: http://www.theinnonnorthstreet.com/index.html

> **a really fantastic walk, followed by an entertaining evening with ms l** πŸ™‚

elie…st monans…pittenweem…anstruther…crail

after a fantastic night at the no 1 bed & breakfast in elie, we take a last shower in the en-suite’s power shower (the first one that really deserves that name, in most of the other b&bs where we’ve encountered them, the “power” in power shower was a mere declaration of intention or of the fact that they ran on electrical power…). breakfast is excellent, and mr wilkie starts telling us about the history of their house, the life in elie — and we almost forget to pack our bags and get walking again. if you are ever in elie looking for a very good b&b: try the #1 b&b at 1 high street, elie.


elie lighthouse window at lady tower the sea at elie ness

the weather today is eerily quiet: almost no wind blowing, no rain, lots of clouds but also lots of sunlight filtering through and bouncing off of the firth of forth surface. we visit the harbour and have a look out from the viewing point, figure out that what we though was the isle of may was in fact and reality bass rock and that the island with the church on top was in fact the isle of may. πŸ™‚

next is the lady tower (even better views, old ruin of a, well, tower) and then the coastal path to [st monans][]. it seems we are a bit on the slow side today, as we need over an hour for the 4km distance, hmm. in st monans i’m in luck church-wise (for once): the church of st monans is open! we visit — and it turns out to have a rather interesting history going back to [king david II][] who for one reason or another (one reason being that he and his wife survived a stormy crossing of the firth of forth, the other reason being that he survived a bad arrow wound) commissioned the church. over the centuries they stopped using the transcept and walled it off, using instead the choir. eventually in the 19th century a brave man stepped forward and suggested that the village of st monans restore the church to its former glory — causing an uproar, as that would mean that the church goers sitting in the choir would not be able to see (observe?) those sitting in either of the north or south transepts…eventually the restoration faction won the game and the church was restored to its former layout (only to be slightly altered in 1956 again).

[st monans]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Monans
[king david II]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_II_King_of_Scots

after this much culture in one sitting we are in dire need of a cup of tea — which the [green door cafe][] willingly and kindly provides (for a very decent fee).

[green door cafe]: http://www.greendoorcafe.org.uk/

12:00 — we realize with a start that we haven’t really covered much distance today and that it is already noon. we pay for our tea and toasted tea cakes and hurry back to the coastal path (which has patiently been waiting outside). through the harbour and on to pittenweem it goes (i quite like the short poem quoted by hamish brown in his fife coastal path description:

> largo, blebo, dunino
> into europe seem to go,
> but plainly scottish we may deem
> auchtermuchty, pittenweem)

pittenweem harbour[pittenweem][] is a real fishing port, complete with a couple of fishing boats that are still being used for day to day work. we skip st fillan’s cave but i take a picture of st gyles, one of the houses used in [_the winter guest_][winter guest] (with emma thompson). then we are off again and make our way round anstruther golf course into anstruther wester — where we have a late and nice lunch in the dreel tavern (still not making an awfull lot of progress…)

[winter guest]: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120521/
[pittenweem]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittenweem

via the harbour (tide is still low enough that we can cross it instead of having to walk the A917) we reach anstruther easter. to our huge surprise (ahem, well) we find a cash dispenser of the royal bank of scotland (the contours tour description had told us to carry large amounts of cash with us as cash dispenser were not known in these parts of the world; so far anything longer than a mile had at least one of those boxes…sometimes i wonder whether the contours people ever walk their walks themselves?) where i stock up on scottish monies, then we spend about an hour at the [scottish fisheries museum][] (very interesting museum with lots of well presented stuff; the customer service people, though, must have depleted their yearly supply of charm a couple of weeks ago — and next year’s has not been delivered yet, it seems).

[scottish fisheries museum]: http://www.scotfishmuseum.org/

caiplie covefrom anstruther easter we follow the fife coastal path through cellardyke and eventually end up in open space again. the last section of our walk today! the landscape is quite wild (once we are past caiplie farm) and the caiplie coves a weird formation of wind-hewn and formed stones. by the time we have reached them, the weather has turned wet: it starts raining (and doesn’t really stop until crail). the scenery stays rather dramatic (it almost feels like we are passing through some ancient parts of the world) and it’s 17:15 when we reach crail.

following the coastal path into crail we do reach the high street and a couple of minutes later stumple over our b&b for tonight: [caiplie house][]. from the street we can have a first glimpse of the breakfast room — very sparingly furnished, a bit YHA like — and then ring the bell…nothing happens and as i’m looking around i notice a grey envelope lying on a side shelf:

> hi, sorry i have had to go out.
>
> you are in room 6/7 on the top floor.
>
> please note the shower is electric, turn on at the
> pull coard.
>
> i will serve breakfast from 0800-0930 hrs.
>
> finlay 0797 6XXX XXX

[caiplie house]: http://www.caipliehouse.com/

hmm…warm welcome that. the envelope also contains a set of keys, one of them opens the front door and we get in. we are indeed on the top floor, the interior design must have been the latest cry somewhere in the 1950s (i remember that style from my grandmother’s flat in bremerhaven). room 6/7 turns out to be two rooms plus a bathroom. one room with a “double bed” (and an abysmally bad mattress) and the other room with our twin bed, rather dark and bleak looking (think: cave).

we are both not too enthused about our “suite”, but decide to get our mineral water restocked before tackling the problem of getting our wet clothes dry.

when we return a young woman is sauntering about in the kitchen and breakfast area, but she is not finlay, it seems. her only comment is “hi”. O…K. up in our rooms i take a shower (power shower of the intentional rather than real power shower sort) and we find out that there are electrical radiators, that we can switch them on, and that they remain singularly unimpressed by that: no heat at all. the sauntering young lady turns out to be quite helpful: she knows where the keys to the rooms are kept and retrieves an electrical heater from room 5 (she has no clue about how the electrical radiators are supposed to work either).

oh dear. i have to admit that at this point i am pretty annoyed with contours: a b&b that does not even provide heated rooms, and rooms that have seen better days — and all that for GBP 110 per day…

we eventually go to find a pub or restaurant for a bit of dinner — and settle on the maritime hotel which has a seafood bistro: and despite our lousy appetite we receive very nice and friendly service, with our starters very very well-done, as is the apple crumble.

> **all in all: a fantastic walk with lots of scenery, a very interesting church visit and a nice cafe in pittenweem, nice lunch in the dreel tavern, an interesting museum, and lots of exciting clouds and views!**

climbing the highest mountain on the fife coast

having peeled ourselves out of our twin bed room at lorne house (good advice: if you ever book a room at lorne house, even if you are tempted to go twin, book the double…or bring a good shoehorn to get you into and out of your room) we have breakfast (well intentioned but rather low-cost ingredients: the tomatoes lack any taste whatsoever), finish packing our bag and are off on our walk to elie.


cirrus clouds wall at silverburn beach at lundin links (2)

the weather is rather interesting today: the rain has cleared away (and, according to the BBC, is not to return), but rather black-ish cumulus clouds keep scurrying across the sky all day (culminating in a dark mass of clouds over edinburgh with lots of sunshine over earlsferry & elie). we backtrack a bit to get to the track taking us through the leven golf course and then take the now familiar route through silver burns down to the beach. ignoring the fife coastal path, we follow the waterline (it’s near the low water mark when we pass) until we run out of sand and rejoin the coastal path at lower largo.

13839

lower largo is again a nice little town, with lots of well-kept houses — we pass a statue of alexander selkirk, the prototype of daniel defoe’s robinson crusoe, and make our way to the end of the village where we depart from the fife coastal path and start the climb past upper largo to largo law: a hill, 290m high, rising above the coast and visible from afar.

while passing through upper largo we catch a glimpse of the site where the first scottish canal was cut: according to hamish brown’s fife coastal path guide, sir admiral andrew wood, a naval hero in the fifteenth century had english prisoners cut and dug the canal (before releasing them back to england) so that he could be rowed in his admiral’s barge from his home to church every sunday — [he just hated travelling on land…](http://www.fife.50megs.com/sir-andrew-wood.htm)

the path takes us from upper largo’s cemetery past chesterstone farm and then in a straight line up the steepest part of largo law, cutting directly across the contour lines. once we leave the cover of the shrubberies the wind picks up considerably — and becomes very gusty, tearing at our backpacks, until at the top it blows with gale force — and we carefully pull over our softshells, carefully so as not to loose any garments or even our backpack. surprising really, that a mere 290m can make such a dramatic difference!


lower largo skyline view from largo law (290m) largo law (290m)

up top we enjoy the fantastic and dramatic views, take the “proof picture”, take a snapshot with my mobile phone camera to use for today’s MMS e-card — and are quickly on our way down again. an hour after we started the ascent we are back in upper largo and head for the _upper largo hotel_ which we noticed on our way up: it’s a mackerel pate and a beer for both of us (really good quality, recommendable) and finally head down to lower largo and the beach again.

beach at ruddons pointfrom now on it’s a fantastic walk along the waterline to the end of largo bay. we meet two riders on horses that chase one another across the sand — followed by a little dog that tries hard to catch up (but seems to know the spiel). the clouds provide an everchanging backdrop, creating constantly modulating light effects — fantastic!

at the end of largo bay we cross a couple of bridges and then have to pass along the edge of a caravan park (cortal caravans are the most prevalent ones, i’d guess every other caravan is a cortal one) until we reach the coast line again at kingcraig hill. from now on it’s about an hours walk over the cliffs (where one could climb scotland’s only via ferrata, the chain walk).

there are lots and lots of dark nimbostratus clouds amassed over the other side of the firth of forth and edingburgh seems to be getting a soaking — we have sunshine on our way from the foot of the kingcraig hill cliffs to earlsferry. the light has an eerie quality to it, and it takes little imagination that the movie [the winter guest][] was produced in this corner of scotland.

[the winter guest]: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120521/

earlsferry and elie turn out to be rather well-kept villages — and our b&b tonight, no 1 bed & breakfast at 1 high street (Mrs Wilkie, No 1 Bed and Breakfast, 1 High Street, Elie, Fife, KY9 1BY, telephone 01333 331157) is a hit! we have a very comfortable, spacious double to the front, the en-suite’s piece de resistance is a power shower that is the first of its kind in the UK that really deserves its name! and, we get a very friendly welcome, along with a pot of tea for two — if only all our b&bs were like this, sigh…

dinner is at the [ship inn][]: excellent pub with excellent food!

[ship inn]: http://www.ship-elie.com/

> **a perfect day & a perfect b&b at the end!** πŸ™‚

endless streets, a closed museum, redwood trees, an adventure at night

after a very good night’s sleep (even though we are facing the A955, it’s surprisingly quiet at night) we repack our bags, have a very nice breakfast and, at 9:30 are off again — not before learning that the luggage couriers are actually the b&b landlords and landladies along the route that have to forward our bags to the next b&b! interesting titbit, that…

today we’ll walk from from dysart to west wemyss to east wemyss to buckhaven to methil to leven and finally to lorne house, our b&b for tongight.


eerie atmosphere (2) lenticular clouds?

the section from dysart up to buckhaven is a rather nice bay walk: the weather is quiet and exudes an eerie atmosphere…very cool :-)…we stick close to the beach or cliff and path through heather and woods. both west wemyss and east wemyss are nice little village — the church in west wemyss, though, as with all churches on our route, it seems, is closed and locked. πŸ™

once we reach buckhaven, a long stretch of street walking begins — and it’s not exactly through the good parts of town. i stow away my camera, and we just trott on…after a while we reach _methil heritage center,_ which according to hamish brown “is worth a visit and maybe a cup of tea” — and although its official opening times are 11:00 to 16:00, we find a note informing us that whoever is the custodian of methil heritage center is “gone for lunch” and “will be shortly back”. a painter having lunch outside in his van, shouts to us that “she’ll be back at 1:30 — considering that we’d have to wait a full 45min we drop the idea of visiting methil heritage center (and a cuppa) and trott on…

methil power station eventually we (it seems like a hundred miles of street walking) we reach leven “city centre” with its bus station under refurbishment. at _stewart’s_ (the one on the west end of the high street) we have apple pies and tea; at WHSmith i acquire today’s edition of the _guardian,_ check at the outdoor outlet shop whether they have any rain ponchos (they don’t even know what that is…), and we decide to have another cup of tea at _stewart’s_ at the east end of the high street — much nicer: you actually get to see outside here.

the inclined reader by now will have, no doubt, noticed that we are in a bit of a time problem: we have too much on our hands, just about 500m outside leven’s shopping “mile” is our b&b for this night — we cannot, however, show up before 15:00…we have hopelessly underestimated ourselves and chosen daily routes that are _way_ too short for us: we could easily walk twice the current daily distance (i.,e., 25–30km instead of 12–20km). i guess we overdid the training a bit…a substantial bit.

golf, the sea, the cloudsso, to make the most of the afternoon we return to the beach and walk on until we reach the wall seperating leven links golf course from largo golf course, and follow it up to [silverburns][], an estate with redwood trees, a very nice walled garden, and lots of wood walks.

[silverburns]: http://search.visitscotland.com/sitemakescotland.asp?customtemplate=providertemplate.txt&providerid=907327&SearchId=65820

from there it’s then really just a hop and a skip to [lorne house][]: the welcome is quite friendly the twin bed room is quite small — even the smallest one so far, in north queensferry, had a table and two chair, lorne house has neither; the facilities are private, but not en-suite, which turns out to be more of a pain in the lower regions than i had expected: everytime one of us has got to see a man about a dog at night we more or less have to get dressed again…(note to self: don’t ever book private facilities again). here we wouldn’t even get the cat out of the bag…

[lorne house]: http://www.lornehouseleven.com/

the next decent restaurant appears to be the [old manor house hotel][] about 1.6km to the east, in lower largo. after having washed and rinsed my functional underwear, we set off shortly after 17:00 via the golf course and silverburns back to the beach and then on to [lower largo][] where we join back onto the fife coastal path and a few moments later are at the old manor house bistro.

[lower largo]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lower_Largo
[old manor house hotel]: http://www.swallow-hotels.com/hotels/old-manor/restaurant-dining

the food is good, for once i have a beer that’s not a guinness (mcewing 80 shillings, quite nice), we send a virtual cheer to mr r who at the same time is enjoying the official 50th anniversary celebrations of the IBM zurich research lab at the kaufleuten in zurich (technology is a wonderful thing: you can have a drink with friend who are not even there — i’m told that this is also possible without technology but more beer instead…) and enjoy dinner. oh, and just after we arrive, an elderly lady (she and her husband are just leaving) comes up to our table and asks us wether we do the fife coastal path, which we confirm — prompting her to tell us that “the best part is just about to start!” and disappear. nice πŸ™‚

while we eat, the threatened rain that so far did not meet up with us, finally locates us and it starts pouring outside.

eventually it seems to ease up and even stop raining, and we make a dash for it — though, dash is not quite the right word, we decide to walk back via the same route that we came. it’s dark now, but we have our headlight and dorothee’s flashlight, so what can happen? well, for once it can start raining again — correction: it can start pouring again, which is a bit of an interesting thing if you are in the middle of a golf course following a burn towards the beach in the dark.

dear reader, we did find our way back — and also almost stumbled over a really magnificent redwood tree en route — and we survived.

> **who ever said that walking tours are boring?**

glorious morning, a beach walk, dreary kirkcaldy, & handcuffs…

after a rainy night we wake up to a sunny morning. we pack our bags again (getting routine in it now), then go downstairs for breakfast: the full scottish breakfast turns out to be rather run-of-the-mill b&b breakfast: cereals are from little carton boxes (basically, the kellogs cereals range, not even alpen muesli…), tea is on request, milk for the tea we have to partition off from the cereals milk, the cooked part of the breakfast is OK, but nothing to get really excited about. we decide not to inquire after the packed lunches which we had asked for last evening. all in all the STB 2 [star cedar inn](http://www.cedarinn.co.uk/) is not really worth the money (according to the published tarriffs they take Β£ 70 for our room — Β£ 40–50 would be more adequate, IMHO).

[IMHO]*: in my humble opinion
[STB 2]*: scottish tourist board 2 star rating

anchored in heaven (!) anyhow, we are off at 9:30 again, the first stop is at st fillan’s church again where i’d like to take a picture of the gravestone with the inverted anchor — a metaphor for “anchored in heaven”, which i really like. the weather is fantastic: fresh and sunny πŸ™‚ we get to st fillan’s by way of the castle and, after some searching, do find “our” gravestone.

then it’s “all-systems-go” for today’s part of the fife coastal path: aberdour to dysart via burntisland, pettycur, kinghorn, and kirkcaldy.

last view of the firth of forth rail bridge...the first part from aberdour to burntisland takes us along silver sands with fantastic views of the firth of forth back to the forth railway bridge and then follows the railway embankment pretty much all the way to burntisland. the sun is shining from a blue sky, in the far west we can already see the looming bad weather clouds coming in from the atlantic by way of ireland and west scotland.

the walk along the railway embankment is taking us through wooded areas from which we have frequent views of the silver sands bay and the remote coast of the firth of forth in the distance — quite spectacular, really!

fossil falls before we reach burntisland the path cross the railway line through a tunnel and continues on its northern side, eventually leading up to fossil falls (aka starlay burn) and then past the former site of the aluminium works of burntisland — the aluminium works closed in 2003, has been dismantled and the former site is now being redeveloped into new housing estates (according to hamish brown, as usual πŸ˜‰

the fife coastal path takes us past rossend castle, which we can only admire from the outside, then through its former gates into burntisland. the recommended detour for “harbour and railway enthusiasts” to the burntisland railway station is, railway-wise, a flop: the railway station must have been once rather grand and spectacular, currently it’s mostly boarded up and a wooden tunnel takes us through it up to the bridge across the railway line — i guess, hamish was just pulling our legs or trying to make a point against burntisland council…either way we find burntisland church where i had hoped to be able to take a picture of the main door which is rumored to have another inverted anchor on it — rumored because although all visitors were welcome, the gates to the church and its church yard were actually locked. πŸ™

on the high street we find a really good little bakery that also has a no-nonsense cafe next door: we order a mug of tea and a slice of apple pie each — really good stuff! recommendable!

next is the crossing of burntisland bay, well, at least that was our intention. it turns out that the incoming tide is already too far advanced as that we could attempt the direct walk straight across the bay (we are about an hour too late, sigh). so we decide to follow the coastal path route along the A921 — which becomes quite dreary after a bit. at railway bridge number 70 we take a peek at the bay, notice a small stripe of beach that appears to be passable and abandon the FCP and the A921 for the bay walk. it turns out to be the most spectacular part of today’s walk (the other being the section from aberdour to burntisland): the sun is still bright as ever, the sea is getting closer and we are just speeding across the bay πŸ™‚ at pettycur harbour we leave the bay and get back onto land — a funny feeling: coming into pettycur from the sea…


burntisland sands at incoming tide (1) arriving at pettycur harbour from the sea side

following around pettycur we rejoin the fife coastal path and break in kinghorn harbour, decimating our water supplies, watching a young, excited dog chase the sea gulls, and enjoying the fantastic weather.

from kinghorn we basically walk through the cliffs along the railway line to kirkcaldy: at first the path is a bit of a dump but soon returns to its normal pleasant natural state.

as we progress northwards towards kirkcaldy, the weather deteriorates: the blue sky disappears, strato cumulus turn into stratus clouds turn into nimbostratus clouds. we keep to the sands as long as possible (necessitating a fording excercise at the beginning of kirkcaldy esplanade) but eventually have to yield to the incoming tide.

once up on the esplanade we notice the sign to kirkcaldy city center and decide after some deliberation to take a “shopping” detour (mrs d needs to restock on water, i’m looking for a rain poncho for the announced bad weather coming over night: rain with gale force winds…). we do find a water source (kirkcaldy’s [marks & sparks](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marks_&_Spencer)), but have to pass on the rain poncho.

following the coastal path we need to stick once again to the A921, pass kirkcaldy’s flour mill and eventually escape the street desert into [ravenscraig park][] and are soon back at the seafront πŸ˜‰

[ravenscraig park]: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/kirkcaldy/ravenscraigcastle/index.html

somewhere in the park we must have missed a turn, instead of ending up at dysart’s pan ha’, we end up at the old rectory lane next to dysart high street — not a bad thing in itself, as we had the idea of having dinner at the old rectory inn, which the AA pub guide strongly recommends…well, the old rectory inn looks like it’s either been closed recently or like it’s been converted into a private club, it certainly does not look like an open pub, let alone restaurant.

past and through a couple of council housing estates we finally arrive at the [white gates b&b][], our b&b for tonight. the welcome is very warm, our room is the best so far on our route: spacious, clean, very nicely decorated, and a working shower (the grown up variant!).

[white gates b&b]: http://www.white-gates.net/

dinner is at the [royal hotel][] (sounds posher than it is really): excellent mussel broth (me) and cullen skink (mrs d) followed by a very well-cooked haddock caught by pittenweem fishers! again: recommendable!

[royal hotel]: http://www.royalhotelfife.co.uk/index.html

back at our b&b i learn that although our landlord was once with the policeforce (and seems to have received an [OBE][OBE]) he no longer is and that the handcuffs artfully hooked up to a clotheshook outside our bedroom do not originate with him (no, they “don’t do theme weekends”) but the previous but one owner’s son and his 21st birthday. πŸ™‚

[OBE]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_British_Empire

> **a very nice walking day & a very nice b&b!**

our first day on the fife coastal path

after a very nice night at [9 east bay](http://www.9eastbay.co.uk/) and a very nice breakfast (only the BBC breakfast television running on the elephant-sized TV screen in the dance-hall-sized living room is a bit of a distraction), we get our contours info pack and the vital luggage tags, equip our bags with them and are on our way at 9:30 on the dot…

first waypoint is the official start of the fife coastal path — we manufacture photographic evidence of our being there in person and then start on our 106km walk around the fife peninsula!


mrs d at the official start of the fife coastal path dr who at the official start of the fife coastal path

we make our way around to laing port, then to inverkeithing (interesting industrial bit, a refuelling stop at the spar shop, a brief detour to inverkeithing church — locked, not really excited enough about it to fetch the keys — and then follow hamish brown’s suggestion rather than the official coastal path sign posts and make our way down to the quayside pub, an old pub located rigth next to a 20th century papermill, and then follow the seaward side of the green until we join up with the fife coastal path on the fringe of inverkeithing. the coastal path goes on through a left-up quarry and eventually reaches dalgety bay.

later on we follow another one of mr brown’s detours and follow a very nice path through a small wood to _braefoot point_ and back — strange, that the official coastal path does not take this detour.

the last part of today’s walk follows a tarmaced way along the aberdour golf course until we reach the A921 in [aberdour.](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdour) we find our way to our b&b tonight: the [cedar inn.](http://www.cedarinn.co.uk/)…our first impression is: oh, dear, good thing it’s just for a night. it does improve a bit, though, the room is nice a large (the shower though is of the traditional english when-i’m-grown-up-i’ll-be-a-real-shower-i’m-still-training-variant), the food at dinner, er, supper, is really good — the interior design is definitely on the i-need-a-changing-room-design-overhaul-urgently-side though…

we spent the remainder of the afternoon by visiting [aberdour castle:](http://www.darkisle.com/a/aberdour/aberdour.html) a proper sightseeing site, complete with ticket-shop-cum-touristy-nick-nack-stuff-shop (even asorted whisky brands are on sale!), a proper tearoom, and a proper ruined castle along with terraced gardens! worth a visit!


aberdour castle thistles from the inside out...oh, look, a beehive doocot!

while we are at it, we also visit [st fillan’s church](http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/aberdour/stfillans/index.html) next door — interesting enough it still exists even though one of the ladies of morton in the 18th century had it relocate to a different part of town as the hoi-polloi was passing too close to her magnificent castle for her taste, but it got restored in 1925 by the then vicar of the church within one year to its former glory — despite trees having settled inside the then former church and the despite a triviality such as a missing roof (today it takes years of fundraising by TV programmes such as [BBC’s “restauration glory”](http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/restoration/) to accomplish what aberdour accomplished within one year in 1925!).

> **a nice day, a bit on the short side (we really underestimated our walking stamina: the daily distances are way too short, it seems).**

> **let’s see how tomorrow’s walk to dysart will turn out. according to our route planning that’ll be 21km (the contours guide, though, claims, that it’s just 15km…hmmm…)**

from richmond to north queensferry…or: engineering works sunday

getting from richmond to north queensferry was a bit of an adventure railway-wise. in theory it was quite simple: catch the train from richmond to waterloo, get on an underground to kings cross, catch the GNER train to edinburgh and finally hop on the train going across the firth of forth rail bridge to north queensferry.

well…not quite: sundays are _engineering days_ — the london underground is only firing on two of its four cylinders, and the east coast line up to edinburgh today only goes as far as newcastle. bummer.

we arrive by 10:30 at kings cross station for the 11:00 to edinburgh (with bus service from newcastle onwards) — enough time to buy today’s observer, some sandwiches, and mineral water. at 10:45 we can board the train and it leaves the station on time.

about five minutes later an announcement is made that we are going to make an unscheduled stop at [potters bar](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potters_Bar) to pick up all the passengers from the 10:30 train to edinburgh: it had a breakdown. and, true, enough we do stop at potters bar and roughly 30min later are chock-full: the first class has been declared open for all and we spend the next two hours enjoying sleazy jokes and vain pickup attempts from a party of four (two apparently recently divorced men and two women).

it’s almost an hour past our scheduled arrival time that we get to newcastle. the announcements on the train have substituted the bus service to edinburgh with a train service via [carlisle](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlisle) — at the information desk at newcastle it turns out that taking that train would add another hour to our travel time, and it also turns out that there are still buses waiting (and just about to depart) outside. luckily, we make it.

the next two hours take us through nice countryside, the ride itself is a bit jerky (after a while i realize that the bus driver seems to be aware of the positions of various speed cameras along the road and everytime he is about to pass one steps on the brake — there are quite a number of speed cameras and he never quite gets to enjoy the “free” parts in between, but we get to enjoy a rather choppy ride).

i have to admit i do admire my brother: he once went on a bus all the way from north germany to spain! perhaps he had a better bus with better seats (and he is a tad smaller than me), but for me it’s a bit of an ordeal…

alight here for the fife coastal pathwe get in time to edinburgh to catch the 17:55 to [north queensferry.](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Queensferry) the ride across the [firth of forth rail bridge](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Rail_Bridge) _is_ quite impressive, and when we get to north queensferry we are greeted by a sign saying “alight here for the fife coastal path” — which we do πŸ™‚

our b&b for tonight is the [9 east bay b & b](http://www.9eastbay.co.uk/), which is located almost right under the (very impressive looking) forth rail bridge: a bungalow, very tastefully decorated. the twin is really nice but a tad on the small side, it’s a good thing we didn’t bring a cat — we wouldn’t have been able to swing it. on the plus side: the en-suite has a working shower!!! we drop our bags off and then have a very nice dinner (supper) at the [ferrybridge hotel](http://www.ferrybridge-hotel.co.uk/index.htm), a charming, quaint place with a lot of character (you expect to see melrose and jury to pop around the corner any moment) and quite a bit of good food — we enjoy it immensly.

afterward we walk back through quiet north queensferry, taking a couple of photos of the fog veiled forth rail bridge.


north queensferry post office lane...beware of ghosts... the fog II

tomorrow we’ll start on the fife coastal path!

richmond

the eurostar was on time, we caught a fast train to richmond & made our way to [chalon house,](http://www.chalonhouse-richmond.co.uk/) where we arrived on the dot at 8:15pm, as predicted 8=) unfortunately the room to the rear that we had booked is already taken — however, we get the spacious and nicely decorated basement room (with the slight drawback of facing to the front and, thus, to the noisy road…)

we drop our luggage off and walk, via the thames to the [white swan pub,](http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/24/2426/White_Swan/Richmond) where we enjoy a pint of ginness and a pint of cidre along with a bruschetta for each of us.

a good day, all trains went on time, very relaxing! πŸ™‚

made it to the eurostar!

although the thalys from cologne to brussels was delayed for 8min in aachen, we made up for the delay on the liege–brussels link and arrive on time! it’s chop-chop for us then to make it through the eurostar ticket control, the belgian border control, the security check, and, finally, the british passport control. but, we make it in time and are about 2min too early for boarding πŸ˜‰

so, we are now on board the eurostar to london, our last but one train today…and the eurostar leaves on the dot — nice. πŸ™‚

the adventure starts

as the 09:02 connection from erlangen to london (which we took last time) is not available on saturdays — and the 7:45 was already booked out — we enjoy the luxury of not having to get up early: we are not due at the station until 11:02 πŸ™‚ everything works out fine, and even the trains are more or less on time πŸ™‚

right now we are sitting in the ICE 508 from frankfurt airport to cololgne, where we intend to take the thalys service to brussels. mrs d is just back from the restaurant car having exchanged one of our EUR 5.00 vouchers (i cashed in again on the over 2000 bahn.bonus points big time πŸ˜‰ and a bit of cash for two substantial sandwiches: lunch at 300km/h!