Walk of the Week: Crail to Anstruther

Caiplie Caves, on the walk from Crail to Anstruther. Picture: Nick Drainey
Caiplie Caves, on the walk from Crail to Anstruther. Picture: Nick Drainey
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THE EAST Neuk of Fife is a delightful place with many pretty villages and towns hugging the coastline.

Fishing is not as popular as it was in its heyday, but the popularity of the area with tourists and golfers means the picturesque harbours have retained their appealing look.

Crail has to be one of the most photographed harbours, and from here a walk leads along the coast to Anstruther, passing sandstone caves, a small sandy beach and lots of rock pools.

Once in Anstruther, one of the other great traditions of the East Neuk can be enjoyed with a clear conscience – fish and chips.

This is a linear trek but you can make it a “there and back” route, especially if you need to walk off a fish and chip meal.

DISTANCE 4 miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED 150ft.

TIME 2 to 2∫ hours.

MAP OS Landranger 59.

PARK There are a number of car parks in Crail. If you are not walking back the same way, you can catch a bus (the number 95 is a regular service) or if you have two cars in your group, leave one in Anstruther.

IN SUMMARY The walk starts at Crail’s picturesque harbour. Keep to the land side of the harbour and go up some steps to the right. These are known as Hen’s Ladder, and lead high above the harbour.

At the top, a short Tarmac path leads to a road, where you should turn left. After about 100 yards, go left down a drive next to Cottage Row. At the bottom, follow a path which swings right to pass behind houses and reach a minor road, where you go left. Just before a row of stone terraced houses, take a path on the left signed for the “Fife Coastal Path”. This drops down close to the sea shore and follows it round to the right, passing a small sandy beach.

The turf path climbs and drops, with the aid of steps in places, as it makes its way along the coast. The strange rock formations of Caiplie Caves are passed further along – it is said that if you throw a stone through a hole in the rock you will be granted a wish. After this you pass the hamlet of Caiplie. The path then continues along the coast, with fields to the right.

You eventually reach a caravan park on the edge of Cellardyke. Here the path becomes a track, and then, after a car park, a road. Follow this into Cellardyke, passing its harbour before continuing in the same direction along a narrow lane.

Follow the lane all the way to an old-fashioned red telephone box. Go straight ahead here, along James Street, to reach a junction, where you go left (really it is more straight ahead). The road then swings left to drop down to Anstruther’s harbour. You can walk back or catch a regular bus to Crail from this point.

REFRESH The Anstruther Fish Bar at the harbour is something of a Scottish institution, and if you haven’t been there, you should go.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Scotland’s Secret Bunker, designed to protect against nuclear attack during the Cold War, is nearby and a complete contrast to the walk. (www.secretbunker.co.uk)