Pittenweem ~ The Fisherman’s Hub and other Special Attributes

Next along the Fife Coastal Path from St Monan’s is the fishing village of Pittenweem, the hub which catches and distributes fresh fish to all of Fife and beyond. There is a fish shops straight from the boats at the back of St Monan’s. We buy ours in Burntisland, but a van also brings fish to people’s doors in many areas of Fife.

The beauty of the old stone harbour, with its creels and boats, is enhanced by signs of the working fishing industry in my eyes. The local in-bloom group completes the picture by decorating a variety of bicycles with flowers in the summer months. Delightful!

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Taking one of several narrow cobbled paths, called ‘wynds’ here in Fife, leading you up to the main street, you can find cafes, art and craft shops, an artisan bakery, home made chocolate and a local store and post office. It is from two of the cafes here that you can borrow the key to St Fillan’s Cave.

The cave can be found, set in the sandstone rock face, down another steep path from the church towards the habour. You pass the community library on your left before reaching the rather mysterious cave entrance, protected by an ornate iron gate.

I ‘met’ St Fillan in this cave on a previous visit whilst walking along the Fife Coastal Path. I was uplifted by our meaningful conversation which I recorded in The Healing Paths of Fife.

 

The alter, as seen below, is a perfect place in which to reflect on the meaning of life!

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St Monan’s ~ One of the Gems of The Fife Coast

The folks of Edinburgh all know the secret of East Neuk, a coastal region in Fife where the estuary of The River Forth merges with The North Sea. Each village has it’s own character and features; St Monan’s being just one of those places.

Neuk is the Scots work for nook or corner,’ Wikipedia informs us, and the ‘corner of Fife’ aptly describes East Neuk, omitting any reference to its natural charm and beauty.

East Neuk stretches from Earlsferry and Elie (my last post) to Kingsbarns, and each wee place has a unique character. Incidentally Mac Duff is said to have fled from Mac Beth via the ferry to the southern coast of the estuary. Hence the name Earlsferry!

From Lady Tower in Elie and passing the ruins of Newark Castle along Rose Bay you have a fairly gentle walk to St Monan’s. The path follows the rocks below this tiny kirk at low tide, but there is a detour behind the village to avoid getting your feet wet when the tide is high.

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St Monan’s Harbour

The colourfully painted cottages along the harbour frontage lead you towards The Smokehouse; a restaurant where you can eat out of cardboard boxes whilst overlooking both harbour and the view towards The Isle of May. Alternatively there’s the more cosy option of The Diving Gannet, a wee cafe just off the harbour. Both places are well worth visiting for much needed refreshments, but maybe on different visits!

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My Husband Poised in Anticipation

Following the Coastal Path signs out of the village you pass the salt pans from days gone by, when Fife exported salt overseas. Then there’s the windmill, which has appropriately been turned into a lifeguard station, from which there are clear views in all directions, if the weather is fair.

It is good to pause and reflect a wee while in each of the fishing harbours of East Neuk; think on their similarities and difference, the ambiance and their sense of community; before continuing your journey along the Fife Coastal Path, which was the inspiration for my book.

Diana Jackson is the author of ‘The Healing Paths of Fife.’ 

 

 

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Lower Largo to Elie ~ A Pause for Reflection on the Fife Coastal Path

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Elie ~ Fife

The walk between Lower Largo and Elie is at first wild and wonderful; a long sandy rock strewn beach, a nature reserve, shell bay and the hill you see in the photo above, where we looked back and reflected on ‘life ~ past, present and future’ as we gazed back over the coastal path already traversed from The Forth Bridge. (We could see as far as Pettycur)

There is an option to take the challenge of the Elie Chain Link Walk. Here James Carron takes you step by step. For me the daunting prospect was of the mind rather than of a physical nature in The Healing Paths of Fife but was a satisfying achievement nonetheless.

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Earlsferry

It was at Earlsferry, where travellers from the south, maybe even from the Holy Island (Lindisfarne)  in Northumberland, once ferried from North Berwick across the mouth of the Forth to the Fife coast on their way to St Andrews, maybe. It was walking here that I began to be aware of a presence alongside me quite, different from the many characters who talked to me along the way. They didn’t speak to me but I knew that they were there, every step of the way.

Elie is a lovely spot. A sandy harbour where they play cricket in the summer, so I’ve been told.

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Volcanic lava leaves geological signs of Fife’s ancient past, when the land was not as peaceful and hospitable as it is today.

What does Elie have to offer the weary walker? Well there’s the Ship Inn with a decking beside the harbour for idyllic sunny days; The Station Pub in the wee main street, a memento of a time when a railway actually ran to Elie, and a Deli which makes rolls up for you to order for a delicious picnic at one of the many beauty spots near the harbour. There’s even a small harbour cafe for ices and beach fare.

Elie is certainly well worth a visit, to while away a few hours, and it is the beginning of the region on Fife called East Neuk, renowned for its quaint fishing villages.

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