Day 8: St Andrews to Guardbridge (5 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 87 Miles
6th September 2014
I’m embarrassed to admit that nearly six months has passed since I completed the Fife Coastal Path and I still haven’t completed my write-up! Thankfully the memories are still strong, so here goes…
On Day 3 in Aberdour (mile 25) I decided to split the Fife Coastal Path into two sections so that I could head home for a break before tackling the final 30 miles. I awoke on the morning of Day 8, sad to be saying goodbye to Woodland Gardens yet excited to be going home. I packed up my camping gear and drove into St Andrews for breakfast, delighted to see the sun shining again after a week of hazy skies.
St Andrews has always been one of my favourite places to visit in Fife. It may be a small town but it boasts Scotland’s oldest university; the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world; two beaches; the imposing ruins of a medieval castle and cathedral (once the largest and most magnificent in Scotland); and an abundance of shops and cafés, including the award-winning, irresistible Jannettas – surely some of the best ice cream in Scotland!
I started my walk at the northern end of the town, passing by the golf courses and the Old Course Hotel. This was one of few places along the whole 117 mile trek that I took a wrong turning. Somehow I ended up following a path through the golf courses, heading towards the mouth of the Eden Estuary. I realised my mistake after half a mile, re-traced my steps and picked up the Fife Coastal Path again.
The walking was easy – five miles (six if you include the wrong turn!) along a mostly flat tarmac path which forms part of the Kingdom of Fife Cycleway. The path runs parallel to the busy A91 but is well screened from the road by vegetation for most of its length. I soaked up the sunshine and admired the views over golden barley fields to the Eden Estuary.
The path slowly descends into Guardbridge and over the River Eden via the fifteenth century Gaire Brig – an important junction where travellers can go north to Dundee, east to St Andrews or south to Cupar. the bridge carried traffic up until 1939 (when the more modern road bridge was built) and overlooks the stumps of an old railway bridge. A paper mill was established here in 1873 and the village was built to house the mill workers. Sadly the mill closed its doors in 2008. The main attraction at Guardbridge is the Eden Estuary Centre and a bird hide reputed to be the best in Scotland.
I reached the spot from which I’d started walking the previous day, crossed the road and jumped on a bus to St Andrews. I collected my car and drove across Fife and through Newburgh, reflecting on the past eight days and the distance left to go. After a quick pit stop in Perth, I headed north, bound for Black Isle to put my feet up and relieve my parents from Guinea Pig Duty!
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