The Fife Coastal Path (FCP) is 117 miles (188 kms) long. It runs between the Kincardine Bridge and Newburgh over spectacular beaches, past remnants of the industrial past (The St Monan’s salt mines, for example), inland through arable land, forest and across many a river.
What can you find on the FCP?
Geology, castle ruins, lighthouses and golf courses galore line the way – it is never boring. Traipse through caravan sites, sample scones in tea houses for refreshment, and breathe in the clean sea air.
Beautiful bird watching and fascinating natural paths abound, including the Tentsmuir Forest near Leuchars. It also takes you through the historial St Andrews and numerous pretty villages such as Pittenweem and Crail.
My personal journey
I started at Inverkeithing and popped backwards and forwards from my home in Edinburgh over the course of 14 months, staying at hostels and travelling by local bus and train.
Although not a pilgrimage, which always carries with it some deep personal lessons, there was still learning in this walk for me: When I set off my aim was to explore the region’s coastline, but I ended with a greater self-knowledge. The stages set by the organisers were too long for my comfort, so I began by selecting my own itineraries, and I had to take transport links into account as well. I want my walking to be enjoyable, and I am not interested in achieving a certain distance if it means that my body or mind suffers. There is an incredible surge these days in long-distance and gruelling activities (marathon running, Everest scaling etc), but this has never been my impetus.
I have a prodigious imagination and I had knew that I had walked up to and just over 30 kms in Spain some days and so assumed I could do it again in this context. What I failed to realise was that I did that in the context of a 30-day walk. I had strengthened and focused myself over time and my only activity was to put one foot in front of another, find accomodation and then feed myself. I was going along a well trodden path where other back packers were around to keep me going, and facilities are specifically laid out for trekkers. In the case of the Fife Coastal Path, I was journeying over and back across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh at weekends, working inbetween, and was not walking every day.
Staying within my limit
It is true that there must be the ‘challenger’ inside me – I dare say that people who know me would say that I can be competitive, certainly against myself, and in the final weekend of the FCP this determination showed itself. I knew, though, in advance that I could push myself against the odds because I have done that before. What has been more of a difficulty for me this past 2+ years, is to take it easy, to stay within my limit and to be comfortable, not to overstretch or strain. In this busy world, there are rewards to be had from taking this way more slowly, such as being at peace and accepting ones limitations, possibly even living longer.
So, if you are keen to explore this wonderful countryside, I would advise you to play with where you start and end each day, choose the duration that genuinely suits your body, and find ways to enjoy it without stressing yourself by over-doing it.
If you have walked this way, please leave a comment. It would be great to have a debate on this subject.
Here are the stages I took
Also in Fife, Aberdour
The ancient Fife Pilgrim Way – The Way of St Andrew – is now open.
This From Hill to Sea beautiful blog covers a lot of places I walked – Kirkcaldy, Pathhead with poetic history and local stories.