NEW EDITION NOVEMBER 2021
Authors: Owen Silver & Richard Hallewell
Re-walked by: Julia Hallewell and Richard Hallewell
Of all of our book rewalks, none was more badly disrupted by Covid than this one. Julia started looking at the routes in 2019. (She had only recently moved to the county and, being a non-driver, was delighted to find that almost all the routes could be reached by public transport.) She provided us with her complete notes at the start of 2020, only for everything to go haywire. There were still details to be checked, but it was impossible to get out there to check them. In the meantime, travel restrictions meant that books covering populous areas (not just Fife, but also Perth, Stirling, Aberdeen and East Lothian), which traditionally sold relatively slowly, began to take off, as people looked for walking closer to home. As a result, we had to print up a short run of the existing Fife guide, and by the time that had sold out we needed to check all the routes again!
Anyway, it finally got done, and I am pleased we were able to give it full attention, because it is an area where routes change quite quickly – not the major set-piece walks of the area (the Lomond Hills and the Fife Coastal Path), which don’t change much, but the others. A couple of routes were so altered, or had become so difficult to describe, that we dropped them from the guide. Others were simplified. On the two routes on the south side of the Firth of Tay, for instance (ie, between Wormit and Balmerino, and west of Balmerino through Birkhill Woods), we have either simplified the optional inland return or removed it completely. Elsewhere there were a lot of minor changes to signage and route descriptions. The climb up Norman’s Law from Luthrie, for example, has been completely rewritten.
Another route which has been altered a lot is the climb up Benarty Hill. Previously this was just a possible extension to the path around Loch Ore, but now it is a separate route, so we can include the climb to the summit of the hill (which has terrific views over Loch Leven), an alternative return, and a mention of the path over to the RSPB centre at Vane Farm. In addition, we have now included an introductory walk around the centre of St Andrews – a beautiful town, which includes so much of interest that it deserved an entry of its own. Since the last edition of the book, the Fife Pilgrim Way, a long-distance waymarked path across the county, has been opened to complement the Coastal Path. This 64mile/103 km route is outlined in the book and readers will come across sections of it on some of the walks featured.
As I say, one of the few plus points of Covid was that it encouraged people to explore their local walks. In Fife, at least, they won’t have been disappointed. The county has its share of built-up and industrial areas, but there are some beautiful towns and villages, and once you get into the countryside there are some beautiful paths to be found. The coastal woods at Tentsmuir are a tonic on any day.
Sadly, the original author of this guide, Owen Silver, recently passed away. We hope he would have approved of the changes we have made to the routes.
For more details or to buy a copy please click here.
Photos: Coastal Path – Anstruther to Crail (centre); the beach by Tenstmuir Forest walking from Tayport (bottom)