Scotland offers so many different landscapes and the old-fashioned, coastal county of Fife is well worth a visit.
Scotland offers so many different landscapes and the old-fashioned, coastal county of Fife is well worth a visit. Take life at a slower pace as you explore the quaint fishing villages dotted along the coastline or delve into the past with a trip to historic towns such as St Andrews or Dunfermline.
With so many scenic walks and lots of pet-friendly pubs, attractions, and accommodation, dogs make the perfect travelling companions when visiting Fife.
Dog-friendly days out and attractions in Fife
- Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline — known locally as The Glen, this picturesque park has a rich history. Discover the ruins of Dunfermline Palace; a hideout of Scottish legend William Wallace; the impressive Double Bridge, which leads to Dunfermline Abbey; a statue of Andrew Carnegie, Dunfermline’s most famous son who became the richest man in the world; and Malcolm Canmore’s tower, a defence for this former king of Scotland. The 76-acre park includes woodlands, formal gardens, and waterways. Dogs are welcomed in the park and are allowed off lead but must always be kept under control. For more information visit www.fifedirect.org.uk/pittencrieff
- Ravenscraig Castle, Kirkcaldy — a 15th century stronghold and former royal residence, the castle is one of the earliest artillery forts in Scotland. It was thought to have been built to defend the Firth of Forth from English invasion. Now a ruin, the castle can only be viewed from the outside but the impressive rock-cut ditch around the castle and views across the Firth towards Edinburgh make it worth a visit. The castle is set in Ravenscraig Park which is dog friendly. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
- Balmerino Abbey, Balmerino, Fife — a 13th century abbey and former dwelling of the Lords of Balmerino. The ruined abbey is unsafe so visitors cannot go inside but the buildings can be viewed from the grounds. There is an ancient Spanish chestnut tree in the gardens which is one of the oldest in the country and thought to date back over 400 years. For more information visit www.nts.org.uk/Property/Balmerino-Abbey
- St Andrews, Fife — take a wander around the world famous town. Known as ‘the home of golf’ and famous for its university, the town, which is situated in the east of the county, is steeped in history and culture.
- Inchcolm Island, Fife — this island retreat in the Firth of Forth is home to Inchcolm Abbey and its medieval stone screens, a rare 13th century painting, and some of the best preserved cloisters in Scotland. Visitors will revel in the island’s history, which stretches back to the 10th century, and its wildlife, including seals. The Maid of the Forth (www.maidoftheforth.co.uk) and Forth Boat Tours (www.forthtours.com) offer trips to the island. However, you may need to drive across the Forth Bridge before catching the ferry. As long as they remain on leads, dogs are welcomed on the boats, on the island, and in the abbey, which is open seasonally from Easter until October. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
Local villages and towns in Fife
The Fife coast is dotted with many delightful villages and vibrant small towns. Here are three that are not to be missed:
1. Crail — a historic fishing village with charming narrow streets, it is easy to see why Crail is popular with photographers and artists. The dainty harbour is a must visit.
2. Pittenweem — a picturesque and secluded fishing village. Be sure to visit St Fillan’s Cave, named after the saint who spent many years living inside as a hermit. Head inside to discover the well and place of worship. The cave is gated but the key can be obtained from The Cocoa Tree Cafe, which is located on High Street in Pittenweem, and is dog friendly. The cafe offers its own speciality chocolates. For more information visit www.pittenweemchocolate.co.uk
3. Elie and Earlsferry — this seaside resort is built around the curved golden beach. Check before taking your dog on the beach as there are restrictions. The town is home to lots of interesting buildings including Elie Lighthouse — an early 20th century lighthouse which is well worth a visit.
Dog-friendly places to stay in Fife
- The Bruce Inn, Falkland — this charming 15th century coaching inn welcomes dogs. The spacious rooms start from £55, including breakfast, and pets stay for free. Owners can eat in the cosy bar with their pets, which has wood-burning stoves, but dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. Water bowls and treats are provided for canine guests. Situated on the edge of the Lomond Hills Regional Park, there are loads of great walks on the doorstep. For more information visit thebrucefalkland.co.uk or call 01337 857226.
- The Old Posthouse, Crail — situated in the picturesque fishing village of Crail, this luxury self-catering accommodation is spacious and truly dog friendly. Pets receive a welcome pack, which includes bowls, towels, and blankets. The tiled or oak floors are easy to clean should your canine companion leave muddy paw prints. The owners also provide information about dog-friendly walks and places to visit on their website. The property sleeps up to five people but is not suitable for small children. There is a charge of £15 per dog, with a maximum of two dogs, although this can be discussed on booking. For more information visit www.crailposthouse.co.uk or call 07969 664273.
Dog-friendly places to eat in Fife
- The Dreel Inn, Anstruther — this hidden gem prides itself on being a traditional village pub. The pub doesn’t have gambling machines, Sky TV, or a jukebox but instead delivers fine food, a range of beers and whiskies, and a friendly atmosphere. Pets are not allowed in the dining room but are welcome in the bar where owners can dine. Water bowls are provided and canine visitors will love the home-made dog treats on offer. For more information visit www.dreeltavern.com or call 01333 310727.
- The 19th Hole, Earlsferry — in a region synonymous with golf, the 19th hole is situated on the fourth fairway of the Earlsferry golf course. Dogs are not permitted in the restaurant but owners can eat with their pets in the bar area. Water and dog biscuits are always at the ready to welcome canine visitors. Diners can enjoy a menu of high-quality pub classics or something from the ever-changing specials board. The sister pub of the 19th Hole — The Ship Inn — is just down the road in Elie and also has a dog-friendly bar. For more information visit www.19thhole.scot or call 01333 330610.
The Fife Coastal Path walk route
Stretching for 117 miles from the Forth estuary in the south to the Tay estuary in the north, The Fife Coastal Path makes it easy to enjoy the county’s stunning coastline. The waymarked trail is managed and maintained by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (www.fifecoastandcountrysidetrust. co.uk) and is hugely popular with dog walkers.
This linear walk from Elie to St Monans takes in some intriguing ruins and your dog is sure to enjoy romping along the sandy shoreline. For more information and other short walks along the Fife Coastal Path visit www.fifecoastalpath.co.uk
Always be sure to keep your dog under control and pick up after him. Walkers north of the border should follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. There is a handy leafl et with lots of advice which you can download; visit www.outdooraccessscotland.com/sites/default/files//docs/dog_owners_leafl et.pdf
At a glance
Distance: 3 miles (4.8km) one way or 6 miles (9.6km) there and back.
Time: 2 or 4 hours.
Terrain: Clear paths along cliffs or over sand. All well waymarked.
How to get there: The walk begins at Ruby Bay car park, which is down a narrow lane just a short drive from the A917 in Elie.
1. From the car park at Ruby Bay, named after the Elie ‘rubies’— pieces of clear red garnet that can sometimes be found on the bay’s unusual volcanic sand, follow the path through a grassy area named Shepherd’s Knowe, which in early summer is colourful with cowslips. Here the dog can have a lovely sniff.
Head on along a narrow path leading off the main one to visit Elie Lighthouse, built in 1908 to the designs of David Stevenson of the famous lighthouse family. Then go on to the ruinous Lady’s Tower, which Lady Anstruther, in the late 18th century, used as her summerhouse. Listen and look for linnets, meadow pipits, and skylarks here.
2. Carry on along the sandy shoreline, where dogs can have another romp. The dunes to the left are held in place by marram grass. At low tide ragged reefs stretch out towards the sea. Go on to pass the ruinous Ardross Castle, built in 1370. From here see if you can spot, inland, a rectangular doocot, where pigeons were housed throughout the winter to provide food for the castle during the coldest months.
3. Go on along the path to pass a ‘filled in’ railway bridge and to wind round a bay. Enjoy the dramatic views from here. Stroll on, with another castle coming into view. This is Newark Castle, built in the 15th century for the Sandilands family. It stands on a fine promontory overlooking the sea and is approached by steps. Follow the waymark directions because the path has been diverted slightly — the old one is now perilously close to the cliff edge.
4. From the castle you may have to make a high tide diversion. Look for the notice on a post on the shore, warning that if the tide has reached a certain height up the post you need to take the alternative route. This heads in land on a track and then, before a house, winds right to run along a field edge before crossing a small bridge over St Monans burn. It then rejoins the low tide route near the historical church of St Monans.
5. Just beyond Newark Castle, follow the path to another ruin, a beehive-shaped tower, close to the edge of the cliffs. This is a 16th century circular doocot. Then, if the tide allows, continue on down hill towards the shore and on to a gate to visit the church by rounding its outer wall. From here carry on into the attractive village. Then you may wish to take a bus back to the start of your walk or return by the same route to the car park.
Along the path there are many businesses such as shops and cafes which are designated ‘welcome ports’. They offer walkers a warm welcome and services such as toilets, the chance to fill up water bottles, or information about the local area. For more information and to see a list of the welcome ports visit http://fifecoastalpath.co.uk/welcome-ports_12.html