Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Fife Coastal Path: Part Two, Aberdour to Kirkcaldy


HomeStoriesThe Fife Coastal Path: Part Two, Aberdour to Kirkcaldy

For Secteur Two of the Fife Coastal Path exploration I chose Aberdour to Kirkcaldy; to get to Aberdour from my home in Dysart you have to head west to come back east.

I decided to take the ‘B’ road over the 632 feet high Binn Hill which stands behind the town of Burntisland – which we’ll return to when we head back east from Aberdour.

The road passes within a couple of hundred yards of the locally famous, ‘Kissing Trees’ – two sycamores, either side of the road in an otherwise treeless landscape.

The ‘Kissing trees’. Photo©Ed Hood

No one seems to know their history but they’re a treat for the eye, especially in the early morning light.

Burntisland warning sign. Photo©Ed Hood

Pressing on up the long drag to the Binn ridge I came upon the sign which gives fair warning but which, as a typical cyclist  I ignored, headed south and began to think that the, ‘suspension nonsense’ which I’ve always mocked might not be such a bad idea after all?

The abandoned village. Photo©Ed Hood

The object of plunging down the gnarly drop was to find the remains of a village of some 564 souls which stood on the slopes of the Binn and at one time boasted a Free Church Mission Hall, school, shop and football pitch.

Binnend information plaque. Photo©Ed Hood

It was founded in 1881 to house workers in the large shale oil refining plant which stood opposite where Burntisland Golf Club now stands.

Nature has been quick to claim back what belongs her and now only ruins remind you of a vibrant village and industry.

Shale oil being usurped by cheaper oil imported from Russia and the USA.

Aberdour Castle. Photo©Ed Hood

On to Aberdour and the castle. Legend has it there’s treasure buried there; the earliest parts of the building date back some 800 years and it’s one of the two oldest castles still standing in Scotland.

I’d have liked to get in to take some better pictures but it’s closed for, ‘high level masonry inspection’ and besides, I didn’t have the £6:00 entrance fee in me back pocket.

Wee railway bridge. Photo©Ed Hood

The Coastal Path does what it says on the tin and follows the Forth all the way to Burntisland, the surface varies between dirt with tricky, polished roots to gravel to nice smooth tarmac.

Initially the main Aberdeen to London rail line is on your left but there’s a wee bridge takes you under the track and there’s no more sea view, a high banking on your left and a fence or wall on your right until you arrive in Burntisland.

So named from a time back in history when the local fishermen’s huts burned down and the name stuck.

The Alcan story. Photo©Ed Hood

Shale oil wasn’t the only industry lost to Burntisland, when I was a younger man the ‘Ali Bam’ – the British Aluminium works dominated the town.

Burntisland Docks. Photo©Ed Hood

The plant refined alumina from raw bauxite ore which came into the docks from Ghana, the process leaving a fine film of red dust all over the town.

A housing estate now stands where the works once were and rig service vessels replace bulk carriers at the moorings.

Submarine cable drums. Photo©Ed Hood

The Shipyard is still there though; now a fabrication facility for the oil industry; ships first rolled down the slipway in 1918 right up until 1969 when the last ship was launched.

The ‘path’ takes to the main coast road out of Burntisland but there’s a nice, fast cycle path and that doesn’t mean it takes a break from history.

Monument to Alexander 111. Photo©Ed Hood

On the river side of the road between Burntisland and Kinghorn stands the monument to Alexander 111, Scotland’s last Celtic King.

A man for the ladies, he was warned not to take the tricky path from the ferry at Queensferry to where his young wife waited for him at Kinghorn Castle on a stormy night; but he ignored the warnings, his horse lost footing, with steed and monarch found dead on the rocks above the beach on the morning of 20th March 1286.

Pettycur Bay Holiday Camp. Photo©Ed Hood

A tad incongruously, just across the way is Pettycur Bay Holiday Camp, scene of, ‘Life on the Bay’ TV show with the highest holiday homes enjoying stunning views back to Burntisland, the river and Lothians