Walking in Fife

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  • A view at twilight of the Firth of Tay from the summit of Norman's Law, Fife.
    Sunset view of the Firth of Tay from Norman's Law
  • St Andrews Castle at sunset
    St Andrews Castle at sunset
  • A couple walk near Tentsmuir Point in the Tentsmuir Forest NNR, Fife.
    Walking near Tentsmuir Point near St Andrews, Fife
  • Dogwalkers stroll through Tentsmuir Forest, Fife.
    Walking in Tentsmuir Forest
  • A section of the Fife Coastal Path overlooking West Bay between Elie and Earlsferry, Fife.
    Overlooking West Bay on the Fife Coastal Path

With such gems as historic St Andrews, the Home of Golf, and picturesque fishing villages linked along the Fife Coastal Trail, Fife has won a well-deserved reputation as one of the best Scottish regions for walking.  With 117 miles of coastal trails, golden beaches and rolling hills, Fife has much to offer walkers of all abilities.

Walking in Fife

Wildlife is an important aspect of visiting the region, much of which can be discovered while walking through Fife’s countryside and along its coastline. Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve combines both forests with beaches, where everything from roe deer to seals basking on rocks and sand dunes can be seen while strolling along its waymarked trails.

In the mouth of the Firth of Forth lies the Isle of May, an important seabird colony with a dark past. Casting off from the pier at Anstruther, you can explore the nooks and crannies of this small island after a short boat journey and unearth its Viking past and the caves which attracted smugglers to its shores.

Below is just a selection of the many walks that have been mapped out in the region, arranged in level of difficulty. Find out more about walking routes, printable maps and GPS waypoints in Fife.

Easy walks

• Hopetoun Monument Walk
Distance: 13 km; duration: 3 hours
Starting out from the Scottish Deer Centre near Cupar, you’ll be able to drink in the spectacular views from the top of Mount Hill near the Hopetoun Monument, a Doric-style viewing column erected in the 1820s in memory of British soldier John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun.

• Tentsmuir Forest
Distance: 8.5 km; duration: 2 – 3 hours
Covering 1500 hectares and bordered on three sides by rivers and the sea, a walk through Tentsmuir Forest offers the variety of sandy beaches and woodland trails. Expect to see some of the forest’s abundant wildlife, such as roe deer and red squirrels.

• Historic Culross
Distance:  4 km; duration; 1 - 1.5 hours
Stretching your legs in Culross, you’ll get to discover the heart of this historic royal burgh, one of the best preserved 17th century Scottish towns. This short walk takes you through cobbled streets culminating in a climb to the ruins of West Kirk.

• Isle of May
Distance: dependent on route; duration: up to 5 hours
Including time taken to cross over to the island by boat from Anstruther and the walk itself, the Isle of May is well-sized for exploration on foot. A National Nature Reserve of significant importance, expect to spot breeding puffins or seals basking on rocks and beaches depending on the time of year. The island also boasts Scotland’s oldest lighthouse and a dark history of smuggling.

• Falkland Estate
The expansive woodlands of the Falkland Estate offer many gentle walks for those wanting to get to grips with a former Royal hunting lodge. A favourite with the Stuart monarchs and later leading Victorians, the estate has many pleasure trails which cut through the swathe of forested areas and farmland.

Strenuous walks

• The Lomond Hills
Crossing moorland and gradually gaining height up into the Lomond Hills, this trail offers walkers superb views of Loch Leven, which contained Mary Queen of Scots during her captivity at the loch’s island keep.  Fine views of the Kingdom of Fife as it stretches out below you are just one advantage of reaching West Lomond hill.

• Kingsbarns to St Andrews
Distance: 13.5 km; duration: 3 – 4 hours
It is advised to check tidal times before embarking on this particular stretch of the Fife Coastal Path as section near Buddo Rock is impassable at high tide. This walk lets you discover unspoilt beaches and rocky strands, as well as tracks stretching across farmland, culminating in stroll through the heart of historic St Andrews.

Coastal walks

Stretching for over 117 miles end to end; from the Forth estuary in the south to the Tay estuary in the north, the Fife Coastal Path is a treasure trove of award-winning beaches, picturesque fishing villages as well as bustling industrial landscapes and cosmopolitan towns. It is divided up into parts so as to get the most out of each section along the trail.

• North Queensferry to Burntisland
Distance: 18.5 km; duration: 4.5 – 5.5 hours
A mixture of easy paths with flat terrain to uneven, rough trails, this walk skirts Fife’s southern coast taking in rural coastline and towns and villages. At the start, you’ll see the engineering wonder of the Firth of Forth Rail Bridge in all its glory as well as views of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat and Castle Rock on the opposing coast.

• St Monans to Anstruther
Distance: 5.75 km; duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Linking three of the East Neuk’s most picturesque fishing villages, this is one of the easier sections of the Fife Coastal Path. With highlights including St Monans former salt pans and the windmill that powered them, reward yourself in Anstruther with award-winning fish and chips made with the day’s catch landed yards away at the village harbour.

• The Rock and Spindle
Distance: 13.5 km; duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Following a waymarked trail, this short return walk leads you along undulating coastal paths across cliffs and past sea stacks and interesting rock formations, such as the Rock and Spindle. There are good views of the historic town of St Andrews.