If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a trail run over a road run any day. And we’re spoilt for choice for trails on the Fife Coastal Path, Fife Pilgrim Way and in the Lomond Hills.
Glenvale Path is one of the most remote and rugged areas of the Lomond Hills Regional Park. I had never even walked the path before, so a colleague offered to run it with me. We dropped one vehicle off at Holl Reservoir then drove another to Glenvale car park. As you head downhill from the car park and you’ll easily find the path in woods on the left. There are some steep sections, but you’re rewarded with a feeling of being far from civilisation. It was an absolutely beautiful evening of cloudless blue skies so there was a reason to stop for photographs – and an excuse to take a breather! I finally got to appreciate the formation of John Knox’s Pulpit (pictured) where it emerges from the heathery hillside.
Lots of wildlife, like birds and seals, can be seen on the scenic coast around Kingsbarns and some trail users are lucky enough to see dolphins! You can easily pop into Cambo for a cuppa and a treat. Some of the path is tidal so check tide times in advance. I think getting your trainers a bit wet is all part of the fun – but I don’t intend to go swimming on a run!
Maspie Den on Falkland Estate must be one of Fife’s most atmospheric trails, especially like the misty autumn day when I was last there. The fairly steep climb up the den takes you round the back of a dramatic waterfall which makes for fun photo opportunities (it’s worth checking with Falkland Estate in advance that the path is open). If you’re feeling super keen, carry on to the summits of East Lomond and back to West Lomond where, hidden behind it, sits the rock formation known as the Devil’s Burdens.
Fife Coastal Path from Elie to St Monans and Pittenweem has lots of historic features – a great excuse to pause for photographs! Stop to admire Old St Monans Kirk (one of the oldest churches in Scotland) and St Monans Windmill and its salt pans. And if you’re feeling a tad hot, why not take a dip in the tidal pools at St Monans or Pittenweem! Just remember to check the tide times first.
For the scent of pine trees and the sight of soaring spruce trees, you can’t beat Blairadam Forest on the edge of the Fife Pilgrim Way. I love the wee section of the Fife Pilgrim Way that winds through Keltyhill Wood and I always think it’s worth stepping off the path to explore the loops around Blairadam. The trail then leads to a quaint dell with a tumbling burn whose charm took my breath away the first time I encountered it. Carry on to Lochore Meadows Country Park where flat paths round the loch lead to the cafe.
Pettycur Bay makes for an epic beach run – but you must check the tides before you go! It’s great fun running over ridges of sand and through puddles of seawater. Keep an eye on the Firth of Forth where whales are occasionally spotted. And if the tide is right out you might be able to navigate completely around the Black Rock, setting of the iconic annual race from Kinghorn.
I know the West Fife section of the Fife Coastal Path pretty well but I was keen to explore eastwards from Dysart Harbour to East Wemyss. Two local friends offered to chum me on the eight miles there and back and give me a history lesson along the way! There is so much mining heritage hinted at on the path, like the red brick arch of the Lady Blanche Colliery. As we ran into West Wemyss I knew we were treading where hundreds of Wemyss Colliery workers had trodden. But it was the Michael Colliery disaster memorial in East Wemyss that really made me stop and think about the miners’ sacrifice. Admittedly, much of this run was on tarmac, but the scented and springy woodland sections made up for that.
Please remember that some of the terrain you run through is a working environment with farm animals, wildlife and crops and you should abide by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Use a headtorch in the dark, but please be aware that lights and sudden movements can spook livestock. If I’m running alone I always tell someone where I’m going first.
Marjory Wood, Communications Officer, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust