Fife Coast South
OS map: 59, 66 plus bits of 58 and 65
Take a train from Dalmeny across the Forth Rail Bridge and into Fife and then cycle back along the Fife coast - a cracking day out!
At the time of writing you can't book bikes on the train but if you travel at an off-peak time then there shouldn't be a problem. Buy a ticket for Markinch or, if you want a shorter option, then you could get off at Kirkcaldy.
Our route went north from Markinch and then takes back roads through Star, Kennoway and down to the coast at Leven. In all fairness, this part of the route ain't too inspiring but bear with it 'cos it only gets better so, much as you might want to linger in Methil, you'll just have to tear yourself away and aim for Buckhaven along the coast road.
Still not impressed? At least now we're off road and on the Fife Coastal Path as it heads through East Wemyss and on to West Wemyss. There are some steps to negotiate at Blair Point and then you're into Dysart with its picturesque harbour. Uphill from the harbour there's a path through Ravenscraig Park but you'll need to take to the road now and make your way into Kirkcaldy...
...and at this point, I have to offer my thanks to whoever found the camera that had - unbeknown to me - fallen off my bike somewhere along that stretch and who was kind enough to hand it in at the Police Station...
Following along the front at Kirkcaldy, it's fairly obvious where the coastal trail turns into a grassy path leading past Seafield Tower before running alongside the railway. There are some more steps to drop down on the way.
Reaching Kinghorn, there isn't much option but to take to the road for a while and roll into Burntisland. Look for NCR1 Cycle Route signs now and there's a turnoff to the right some way down the main street and you need to take care as the route wends left uphill before dropping down to the right and passing under the rail line. This is now a narrow trail running alongside the railway all the way to Silversands Bay. From here the Coastal Trail goes up and over a headland to Aberdour, while NCR1 more easily follows the road.
On the road through Aberdour, NCR1 goes left through some large gates and alongside the golf course. Just after turning left at a T junction, the track drops down to St Bridget's Church right on the shore and it's well worth taking some time to explore this tranquil spot.
The route follows the shoreline now and you'll emerge in Dalgety Bay to find yourself among a succession of new housing developments, for want of a better word. Low cost, affordable properties these are not. It's a soul-less place with neatly manicured gardens. You won't see any shops, or washing hanging out to dry, nor even kiddie's toys or any real sign of 'normal' human activity - it's a sort of Stepford-on-Sea and completely devoid of character.
The Coastal Trail diverges at some point from NCR1, though it's not entirely clear where. We stuck closer to the shoreline weaving a route between and around the backs of houses but there are more sets of steps to negotiate on the way round to St David's Bay.
At the moment, the trail from St David's Bay towards Inverkeithing isn't afflicted with housing developments but I suppose it's just a matter of time...
It's a bit of a haul up into the town but there's no real option. You do, however, have a choice of how to get to the Road Bridge. NCR1 is the easy option. It's well signed as it heads out of the town. The Coastal Trail is perhaps less easy to find but does have a lot to offer if you make the effort. To locate it, take the main road as for NCR1 down the hill out of town. Near the bottom of the hill look for a road into an industrial area on the left and then go left again to eventually pass alongside a scrap metal yard. Lovely!
Follow the trail around the coast now and eventually to North Queensferry. You can use either side of the Road Bridge but if you want the east side, then you'll need to go up steps to get to it. Alternatively, pass under the bridge and then make your way through a hotel car park on the right to get to the cycleway on the west side of the bridge.
Cross the Road Bridge and if you need to return to Dalmeny Station then the route follows NCR1 signs to start with but you'll need to look for signs to turn off to the left after a while.
john b, galashiels