The area of Braefoot Woods between Aberdour and Dalgety Bay is a popular walking and mountain biking area. Added interest to a walk is available in the form of the wartime fortifications that can still be found in the woodlands and along the coast. Further round the coast line is the intriguing Monks Cave.
Braefoot and St Bridget’s Circuit
The route suggested below is just one possibility as there are a number of different paths in the woods that can be explored. As well as the woodlands, this route also takes in a secluded beach and the ruin of St Bridget’s Kirk.
Distance: 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
Ascent: 410 feet / 125 m
Start / finish: Braefoot, Aberdour
From the small car park at NT 180 844 on the Aberdour to Braefoot Marine Terminal road, head down the road to reach the costal path. Head westwards towards Dalgety Bay for about 300m. A constructed path goes left down steps, towards the coast and woods. At the end of this path, opposite, is the eastern entrance into Braefoot Woods beside the perimeter fence of the Braefoot terminal. A path (sometimes muddy) goes uphill through the trees and after about 350m reaches a corner of the Braefoot fence. Keep left alongside the fence as the path starts to descend (right goes towards the area of Braefoot Pier). The path is quite steep in places as it makes its way downhill and over a stile. On reaching sea level a small secluded beach is reached. Turning right, a feint path makes its way across the top of the beach to the rocks at the western end. From here the path becomes more obvious as it follows the coastline around the gorse bushes to reach Braefoot Point and the old pier.
A number of paths converge at the pier and the obvious ones all lead to the western entrance of the woods. For the best coastal views there is a feint path close to the western shoreline to reach this point. On leaving the woods the walker has the choice of turning right to return to the start point or turning left to extend the walk to St Bridget’s.
400m along the road to St Bridget’s is a turn off to the sewage works. After this junction it is possible to use rough paths in the woods to the left as an alternative to the tarmac of the road. Either option can be used to reach St Bridget’s. From the kirk, the route goes north, inland, up the hill following the Fife Coastal Path. After 250m it turns right on to the Avenue, which was the entrance/drive to the Donibristle Estate. It is now a straightforward walk along the Avenue back to the start point of the walk. During the spring months there are many daffodils in bloom along this section.
Monks’ Cave and Charles Hill
Distance: 1.6 miles / 2.6 km
Ascent: 165 feet / 50m
Terrain: grassland paths/tracks
From the small car park at NT 180 844 on the Aberdour to Braefoot Marine Terminal road, walk down the road to the Braefoot Terminal. To your left is a staff car park (probably not a good idea to try using this rather than the public car park up the road). Walk through the car park to the south east corner where a track heads into the woods.
This track skirts around the edge of Aberdour golf course (watch out for golfers) to reach a gate. Ignore the keep out sign on the gate (under the Land Reform (Scotland) 2003 act there is no legal basis for this sign), and step over the fence to the side where the barb wire has been removed. Continue on along the track to its end. From here the Charles Hill Battery can be explored.
Return to the track and walk back for about 30m to reach a grass path to the left. Follow this path across the grassy headland for about 100m to the vicinity of the Monks Cave NT 185 837. The shelter is not visible from the path but look for a flattish area (which is the roof of the shelter) next to some bushes. Descend the not too obvious path on the left side of the flat area for a short distance to reach a grassy ledge in front of the cave. The descent to the cave may be slippy if the grass is wet, so wear footwear with a good grip. If you suffer from vertigo you may find the cave a bit challenging. There are some steps on the opposite side of the cave which can also be used for the descent.
After exploring the cave, a further grass path crosses the headland to reach other remains and then makes it’s way back to the main track.