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The Chain Walk

Fife Coastal Path: A Via Ferrata in Scotland

The Chain Walk by Kevin HowettThe origin of the chain walk has not been documented although a date of 1929 is quoted and its use by fishermen seems to be the main reason.

The route involves some walking and scrambling with the aid of chains on the steeper sections. The coastal rock formations here are stunning with a series of wide ridges extending out to sea with gulches (geos) and caves between, and magnificent rock architecture; very reminiscent of Devon’s Culm Coast. The rock is equally as odd as the Devon version and even less climber friendly.

The ‘walk’ itself is best attempted about an hour after high tide when the sea is on the ebb (when the tide is on its way out) so as not to get stranded, unless you want to spice it up a bit! At lowest tides the gulches are clear of water and some of the chains are not needed which makes it less adventurous, however, there are some surprises on the walk with deep caves that seem to have been hewn by man and these are only accessible at mid tides, and the smooth sculptured sides of the geos can give good bouldering traverses at low tide!

The traverse is usually done east to west in which case it is accessed from the Fife Coast Path from the top of Kincraig Point down a zig-zag path to near sea level, finishing on the red sands of Earlsferry, although it is possible either way. The chains have recently (2007) all been replaced so there are presently no worries about their security, and it appears Fife Council have taken on the management of them in the future.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Fife Coast PathBooks:
Along the Fife Coast Path’ by Hamish Brown

Website:
A good description with photos is on the website detailing backpacking in Britain at: http://v-g.me.uk/index.htm.

Tide Timetables:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast/tides/scotland_04.shtml

For more information on the Fife Coastal Path call 01592 414300, or the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust on 01333 592591.