The Fife Coastal Path is a stunning multi-day Scottish coastal walk that takes you from Newburgh to Kincardine. The entire path takes around 9 days to complete, but the coastline is very accessible by public transport so you can break the trip up into stages! The section we chose to walk (and highly recommend for you to!) is from Elie to Crail. This section goes through a few really charming seaside towns, all with their own attractions. The path traverses rocky seaside scapes, beautiful white sand, and even some farmland where you might have a shot at seeing a highland coo (a highland cow)!
The day hike from Elie to Crail in a nutshell
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Key information to know before your Elie to Crail coastal walk!
Starting Point: Elie, Fife
End Point: Crail, Fife
Length: about 10 miles/16 kilometres
Time: around 5-6 hours (but I’d dedicate a whole day to this to explore the towns!)
Ascent: very flat, but there are one or two sections that have about 10 meters of incline
How to get to Elie and from Crail
The easiest way to get around Fife’s coastline is by bus. The Stagecoach bus system gives you access to so much of Scotland. We got the East Scotland Day Rider ticket for £9 each, which was a great deal because it allowed us to take the bus from Edinburgh to Elie and then from Crail to St Andrews and then back to Edinburgh.
To get to Elie from Edinburgh, take the X60 Stagecoach bus towards St Andrew and alight at the Elie, High Street Stop. This journey takes just over 2 hours.
From Crail, we decided to head over to St Andrew and then grab a direct bus from there, rather than going back to Edinburgh and changing buses in a small town. Both ways to head back to Edinburgh take around 2 and a half hours, but we liked exploring St Andrews for half an hour before grabbing the bus back.
My experience along the Fife Coastal Path from Elie to Crail
I actually made a YouTube video outlining our little adventure along the Fife Coastal Path. This is my first YouTube video, so it’s a little rough around the edges, but I’m excited to be joining a new platform and to start creating more content. The video is a high-level overview of the walk, and I’ll include more logistics and details below!
Phil and I took the X60 bus to Elie, which took just over two hours. We got off at the Elie High Street station and walked about 5 minutes towards the coast. There are public toilets on The Hoft, the street that leads you to the coast. Once you arrive near the sea, pass Ruby Bay and head towards the Elie lighthouse and Lady Anstruther’s Tower. The lighthouse is really cute, but my favourite part of Elie was definitely Lady Anstruther’s Tower – there are windows still in tact that perfectly frame the ocean and it is LOVELY!
Things to see in Elie
- Elie Deli
- Carol’s Shop for ice cream
- Ruby Bay
- Elie Ness Lighthouse
- Lady Anstruther’s Tower
Elie to St Monans
After walking just a few minutes, we went down to an incredible rocky beach. The path is right along the ocean, just above the beach, and is just so insanely beautiful. You’ll also pass the ruins of Ardross Castle, the Catchpenny Safari Lodges (would be great for a relaxing staycation!) and then the remains of Newark Castle.
St Monans is a really cute little town. When we first entered, we walked behind the postman, who had a little rucksack of mail to take to the higher part of town, and it was just really quaint and charming. St Monans used to be a big site for fishing and salt production, however today, it’s more of a residential town. It’s also one of the smallest villages in East Neuk.
This stretch of the walk is 2.8 miles, or 4.5 kilometres.
Things to do in St Monans
- Visit St Monans’ Church (the Auld Kirk) – it was built in 1346!
- Stop by the welly garden! It’s very quirky and cute.
St Monans to Pittenweem
Right as you leave St Monans, you’ll reach the St Monans Windmill and old saltworks. The windmill used to pump the water towards the saltworks.
This stretch of the walk is also extremely beautiful, with plenty of sandy and rocky beaches.
As you get closer to Pittenweem, you’ll get a great view of the town in front of you. Pittenweem has a lot to do and see, and is worth a little walk around! Pittenweem is the only working fishing harbour in Fife, and we loved looking at the fishing harbour and seeing all of the lobster traps around. If you get there early enough, you’ll be able to see the fishermen come in.
The walk from St Monans to Pittenweem is about 1.6 miles or 2.6 kilometres.
Things to do in Pittenweem
- Pittenweem Lighthouse
- Nicholson’s Sweets & Ice Cream Shop
- St Fillan’s Cave (St Fillan hid here as he tried to spread Christianity throughout Scotland, but the cave was dark and he couldn’t see his scriptures, so God made his left arm glow. More recently, the cave has also been used as a smugglers den and prison).
- Pittenweem Chocolate Company (also where you get the key for St Fillan’s Cave)
Pittenweem to Anstruther
From Pittenweem to Anstruther, there was so much common gorse in bloom. There were yellow flowers EVERYWHERE and it felt like sunshine was lining our walk. We were super excited to get to Anstruther because we were set on going to Anstruther Fish Bar for lunch. Their fish n’ chips are award winning and I CAN CONFIRM they are amazing. We sat by the seaside and picnicked and it was great!
There’s also the Scottish Fisheries Museum if you’re interested in visiting!
This part of the walk was 1.7 miles or 2.7 kilometres.
Anstruther to Crail
The walk from Anstruther to Crail is still along the coast, however you pass houses and farmland (I spotted a wee highland coo!). The coastline is really stunning, and whilst I was most tired at this point of the walk, I was still blown away by the scenery.
The trail from Anstruther to Crail is 4 miles or 6.4 kilometres. It’s the longest stretch, but the scenery is just lovely! Crail is the biggest town that you’ll visit on this part of the Fife Coastal Path, and it’s a great place to grab dinner or celebrate with a pint! We decided to instead take the bus to St Andrews, which is another place I highly recommend visiting.
We were pretty exhausted by the time we reached St Andrews, so we only stayed for half an hour before catching the bus back to Edinburgh. It was a very full, beautiful day on the Fife Coastal Path and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it!