St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther
This is a particularly lovely section of the coastal path linking the attractive villages of the East Neuk. It is of course possible to do a linear walk along the coastal path and use the bus service to return to your start point. However, it is also possible to do a circular walk returning via Balcaskie Estate. Discover saltpans, a windmill, tidal swimming pools, working harbours and a country estate. As well as the 8 mile route, two shorter options are also suggested.
- Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
- Ascent: 500 feet / 150m
- Terrain: Paths and tracks (mostly unsurfaced) plus some road walking
- Start/finish: St Monans
This route is described starting and finishing in St Monans, but other start points are equally possible eg Pitenweem or Anstruther.
Starting from the harbour head eastwards following the coastal path signs to the saltpans and windmill. There are good interpretation boards at the site describing the operation of the saltpans. Nowadays it is used as a base by the volunteer Coast Watch service and there is access to the inside (temporarily closed due to Covid-19) when they are on duty. Also at this location is the St Monans tidal swimming pool. The path is easy to follow along the rocky coastline to Pitenweem. Before reaching the village though, the Pitenweem tidal pool is reached whilst inland there is a playpark with a useful shelter for when it’s raining.
The coastal path now passes through Pitenweem with it’s pantiled cottages and working harbour. A further attraction is St Fillan’s Cave on Cove Wynd where the saint allegedly lived as a hermit. At the far end of the harbour is Gyles House but before reaching it the coastal path heads up hill on the road. The path leaves the road via a gap in the wall to reach a playpark. Follow the path along the top of the cliff behind the houses with views out to the Isle of May. After a short distance the path starts to descend down rocky steps to the shore to reach a golf course.
Stay alert whilst walking around the outside of the golf course on the grassy path. When the path becomes a tarmac road you can divert down on to the sandy beach to avoid a wee bit of road walking. However, you will soon need to rejoin the road at the club house where it becomes a public road leading into Anstruther. Follow the coastal path signs along Shore Road and Crichton Street to reach the main road through Anstruther.
Cross over to the residential street opposite, called Dreelside. Head along this street to the end to join a street lit tarmac path at the side of the houses. A red ash path with a core path purple arrow then heads passed a playpark. Go up a few steps beside an old bridge and then turn right to cross over the bridge.
Keep on the surfaced farm track through Dreel Meadow Nature Reserve passing some houses and crossing a burn. At a junction with a bench seat turn left on the track through open fields. Follow the track round to the left at the next set of cottages to reach Easter Grangemuir Farm. This is a working farm area so stay alert for moving vehicles and keep any dogs close to heel. After the farm the track passes some polytunnels before reaching the public road. Turn left onto to the road which is unpaved at this point. It’s best to walk on the right hand side towards oncoming vehicles. After about 400m the entrance to Balcaskie Estate is reached.
Follow the estate road (the left hand one) across open fields, past a farm to reach the impressive entrance gate to the estate with its doocots. The actual gates are electrically operated using the button and will close behind you. Keep the stables to your left and approach towards Balcaskie House. Keep right so that you stay away from the immediate vicinity of the house and then turn right directly in front of it. After about 100m turn left on to another estate road and follow this through parkland for about 500m to where there is a woodland on your left. Go left on to a woodland path before you reach a beech hedge. After 250m you will reach a crossroads at some yew trees. Go right at this point to reach the ruin of Abercrombie Church, the burial ground for the Anstruther family.
After the church a pedestrian gate takes you out of the woods and on to a field track. This track follows the edge of the fields for 500m to reach the public road. Cross over this road and take the road opposite passing Abercrombie Farm and heading into the small village of Abercrombie. Follow the road through the village as it bears left towards St Monans. This road unfortunately, tends to be used as a short cut and carries more traffic than you might expect so best to walk on the pavement. After 1km reach the main coast road at St Monans.
Two shorter options are possible by using the road between Balcaskie entrance and Pittenweem.
St Monans, Pittenweem Circuit
- Distance: 9 km / 5.7 miles
- Ascent: 90 m / 290 feet
On reaching Pittenweem head up the steps of School Wynd opposite the Fishmarket. Cross over the High Street and head up Browns Close and Charles Street to reach the main road. Cross over the road and continue on Charles Street using the pavement, for about 1km to reach the entrance to Balcaskie described above.
Pitenweem, Anstruther Circuit
- Distance: 6.5 km / 4 miles
- Ascent: 60m / 200 feet
Starting from Pittenweem, follow the route above along the coast and round to the entrance of Balcaskie Estate. Instead of heading into the estate, continue along the road using the pavement for 1km to return to Pittenweem.