25 Apr 2011

Kirkcaldy to Dysart: The longest short walk

Looking at a map, the walk from Kirkcaldy to Dysart is short. The two are so close in fact that Dysart is considered another suburb of Kirkcaldy and if you stick to the roads the two communities flow together almost seamlessly.

But if you take the trail from Ravenscraig Castle along the shore to Dysart, you can easily forget there are any towns nearby at all.

Start at the beach below Ravenscraig. If you are the type who loves to wander beaches collecting pebbles, don’t be surprised if glance at your watch and find that an hour has passed rather than 15 minutes.

Years of wind and waves have created incredible contours and designs in some of the larger rocks, whose features warp and sway like frozen lava. Scattered here and there are particularly unique specimens, like the stone I have named “Batman rock” for its bizarre shape. Where did it come from? What might it have been used for?
I propped it up on another larger stone to photograph it and this is where I left it, with its blind eyes looking out to sea. Mind you, if I had brought my backpack along you can be sure I would have hauled it home. I wonder if anyone else saw it and did just that.

When you finally leave the beach below Ravenscraig you have the option of retreating to one of a number of waterside nooks that exist next to a long curved rock wall that looks like pulled sugar. Shorter rock walls descend to the beach, creating secluded enclosed areas ideal for picnics or just a little quiet time. At least until the tide comes in.
Eventually you must make your way through a large stone tunnel before emerging at Dysart’s quaint harbour. On one side the gaps in a massive stone wall have become home to nesting seabirds, while on the other a myriad of boats bob and rock in the quiet water.
To get a sense of Dysart’s fishing past and the history and geological background of The Fife Coastal Trail, it is ideal to first pay a visit to The Harbour Master’s House, which was opened in 2006 as Fife’s first coastal centre and the headquarters of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.

The old workers houses along the harbour front were restored in the 1960s. Their whitewashed walls face the lapping sound of the waves. I imagine the view from the windows would be incredible during storms, and of course just a few short steps from the doors is the water and plenty of opportunity for watching the local sea and bird life.
From here you can continue on the Fife Coastal Trail, or head back to Dysart, choosing a high trail out of the village, which provides a postcard view of the harbour. Walk a little further and you won’t miss the end of daffodil season when you see the carpets of bluebells stretched out between the budding trees.

Depending on the kind of experience you’re after, the short walk from Kirkcaldy to Dysart can take as long as you like. Start in the morning to give yourself plenty of time. Bring a picnic. Bring a book. Don’t rush. If you’re lucky, the sun will shine high and the breeze will blow warm. A short afternoon can stretch out like a week.

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