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Walk to St Andrews

Day 1: Dysart to Dumbarnie Links

We covered about 19 miles on the first day. Dysart to Leven is familiar territory; we powered along in record time. When we stopped for a break under the bridge between Buckhaven and Leven, we found a surprisingly good agate in the riverbed. I lost Max's ball, and hit my head on the bridge. At Lundin Links we spent more time looking for agates (and found a couple).

Head and shoulders of a handsome golden labrador, looking into the distance, against a sandy beach, blue sea and blue sky A stream burbles over a stony and sandy beach towards the sea; Max the labrador crosses it with his little backpack

We camped at Dumbarnie Links, among the dunes. Tired and achey after the longest walk in a while. It was plenty warm enough, but I slept terribly.

A wooden sign welcomes walkers to the Dumbarnie Links nature reserve, a place of grassy dunes and wide sandy beaches Looking out of the entrance to a green tent where a golden labrador snoozes and the sea is distant A view across grassy dunes to the sea, where a small rainbow pours down from fluffy clouds

All photos from Dysart to Dumbarnie Links.

Day 2: Dumbarnie Links to Anstruther

In the morning, we took it easy. Walked out to a little island that was accessible with the tide out. It was beautiful, with wildflowers and rocks and soft grass. Someone had planted an orange flag on a cairn at the end. We sat on the grass, in the sun, and threw the ball for Max.

We headed off towards Elie. We couldn't do the whole Chain Walk with the backpacks and Max, but I scrambled about half of it before we turned back.

A sign on a rock WARNING about the Elie Chainwalk The sea forms a narrow channel between dark rocks, with a metal chain in the foreground A view to a distant rocky cliff with a large chain running down the side, and a dog at the top wondering how he's going to get down there A view from above of a person in a green raincoat climbing vertically down a cliff with a metal chain for support, towards the sea

The next stop was a hidden concrete bunker hideout. It smelled of wee, but the views were amazing.

A panorama across the sea from a high place with concrete walls

A view from high up over a sandy bay backed by grassy dunes A view through a concrete window across a glittering sea

Next stop: Elie. We got great chips for lunch (Lincolnshire potatoes), and spent ages searching for rubies (garnet) at Elie Ruby Bay. I had a nap in the sun. We found lots of not-rubies, then gave them all away. It rained on and off, and we continued on to Pittenweem. Both the chippy and bakery were closed. I got Irn Bru sorbet from the ice cream shop at the harbour, which was a regrettable choice.

A small sandy bay with rocks at either side and a ruined tower A narrow mud track runs along a grassy verge above a rocky shore Max licks his lips besides a pale orange ice cream in a cone

Boosted by sugar, we powered on to Anstruther, and had our second meal of chips. It started to rain as we came out of Cellardyke, and we pitched the tent just in time.

A wide golden rocky beach fronts some distant white seaside houses Max has his jacket on, next to a chip shop window

All photos from Dumbarnie Links to Anstruther.

Day 3: Anstruther to Kingsbarns

It was raining torrentially in the morning. We waited it out until about noon. The rain got lighter but didn't stop, and there was no way we could dry the tent before packing it up. It wasn't far to Crail, where I got vegan sausage rolls from GH Barnett's bakery.

The rain continued. We hid at various stages in huts on golf courses, or in caves. We walked through Kilminning wildlife reserve, then followed the coastal path inland for a while to cross a river over a bridge.

A wooden sign for Kilminning Coast Wildlife Reserve Grey sky and sea, green grass A golden lab with a backpack stands on a grassy knoll above a rocky beach and churning sea A wide wet beach covered in washed up clumps of seaweed A vast rocky beach with clumps of seaweed and tidal pools stretches to a grey sea A brown roiling river passes under a small wooden bridge in the woods

We returned to the coast at Kingsbarns, and walked until we found a spot that looked like it wouldn't get a lot of foot traffic to pitch the tent. It stopped raining for a while. We camped on a beautiful golden beach. The coastal path in this area is gorgeously rugged.

A dirt track divides into three between grass and trees Max in the foreground saunters along a dirt track by the beach A wooden sign by a beachside track reads St Andrews 7.5 miles

Panorama of a tent between two grassy dunes with a sandy beach and distant sea

A golden, wet sandy beach, cut through with rivulets of water, under grey-blue clouds Deep ripples cross the sand, and the beach turns into flat smooth pools before reaching the sea

All photos from Anstruther to Kingsbarns.

Day 4: Kingsbarns to St Andrews

We left late, around 10, waiting for the rain to ease off a bit. Everything was damp. Max was raring to go. We took our time, stopping to enjoy the scenery and look at rocks. Red beaches and rugged coves covered most of the rest of the route. Max plunged into the sea with all his gear on and got soaked. We picked up a few fossils to take home. It was okay, cos we'd eaten most of the rye bread, and weight was about equivalent.

A gold lab runs into grey sea by a sandy beach A golden lab stands in front of a very large stick on a rocky shore

We scrambled around Buddo rock, with just about the last of our energy.

Two gnarled and colourful rocks create an interesting formation A view from between two large rocks, out to sea A close up of gnarly twisted rock face

The final stretch contained really more steps and hills than was polite.

Mud steps run down through grass along a steep bank to the sea A rocky sandy beach with seaweed and frothy waves A wooden sign warning about high tides, in front of a rocky cliff that goes directly to the sea Narrow steps wind down through grass covered rocks with rock formations out to sea Mud steps between gorse bushes go around a corner, and a town is in the distance

We got to St Andrews about 3pm. I got a double espresso, which was divine. We canvassed the high street, asking locals for their opinions about chippys, then went to Tailend which was cheaper with bigger portions. We ate in a little park. Somehow summoned energy to walk around the cathedral grounds.

A stone path runs between headstones on the right and ruined cathedral walls on the left a ruined cathedral wall at a jaunty angle against a white sky

I wasn't quite ready for the trip to end yet, despite the exhaustion, so we looked for a quiet spot to city camp. After a slight detour throug a school field and over a wall or two, we found a spot in some woods by a river. It was raining by the time we got the tent up again, and few people were walking along the trail. We fell asleep to the sound of the river.

Max stands at the door to the tent, looking pleadingly at the ball he has just dropped there Max curled up in a little sleepy ball in the tent entrance

The next morning we picked some jelly ear, and got to the bus station just in time to catch the X60 home.

Three old fat logs covered in jelly ear mushrooms Max sitting on the bus like a Good Boy

All photos from Kingsbarns to St Andrews.

🏷 pittenweem elie crail anstruther beach fife coastal path st andrews fife max walking hiking life travel

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