Fife’s Coastal Path is justifiably famous for its beauty and its walking potential, but along its 117 miles there are all manner of hidden gems that connect directly onto it. Cambo Estate is one such gem, and while its woodlands put on a snowdrops display at the end of winter and a bluebells display in the spring, this is a lovely leg-stretching walk at any time of the year.
This route takes you on a surprisingly varied loop of the estate, first heading along one of Fife’s loveliest beaches, and then exploring the winding woodland paths that are otherwise completely hidden from view from both the coast and the main road.
Time: 1.5 to 2hrs
Path info: Good sandy paths along dunes, surfaced golf course road, woodland paths. Some of the woodland sections can be muddy, wet or covered in leaf litter. The coastal path runs along the edge of Kingsbarns golf course, so watch for golfers on the tees.
Start & finish: Public car park at Kingsbarns beach. Google Maps: bit.ly/kingsbarns OS grid reference: NO601124.
Information: Cambo Country House & Estate has its own website that tells you all about the place and what they do there. Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) have a dedicated page on their website for Kingsbarns Sands. The coastal section of this walk uses the 117 mile long Fife Coastal Path, which is managed and maintained by the FCCT. Further information about the trail can be found at their Fife Coastal Path website.
From the car park, as you’re facing the sea, head right and out of the car park via the wooden gate in the stone wall.
Veer left on the other side of the gate, following the clearly marked ‘Fife Coastal Path’ signs onto a narrow sandy path that runs along the top of the dunes overlooking the beach.
The narrow path soon joins the wider, sandy vehicle track that runs along the edge of the golf course.
The track crosses a small wooden bridge and then you pass a sign that warns you to watch for golfers on the tees.
When the sandy vehicle track veers to the right, away from the coast, leave the track and continue straight ahead onto the narrower surfaced path that hugs the shore, still following the Fife Coastal Path signs.
You pass one of the tees and are then directed onto the surfaced golf road, which curves past a toilet block on your left.
The road then reaches a burn and a wide wooden bridge. Do not cross the bridge. Instead turn right and go through the wooden pedestrian gate that leads to Cambo Estate and Kingsbarns Distillery.
After you’ve gone through the gate, ignore the left turn that leads towards a smaller wooden footbridge and steep steps beyond the burn. Instead, walk along the surfaced path that leads into the woodland, keeping the burn on your left.
After a few minutes you reach another path junction, where the left turn leads across an ornate footbridge. The path that leads straight ahead, on this side of the burn, ultimately leads to the curtilage (immediate surrounding grounds) of Cambo House. Scotland’s access laws allow for privacy around people’s homes, so access to Cambo House’s immediate grounds is restricted to residents and guests only. So, turn left over the bridge, climb a few steps and then turn right, continuing your way up the glen….with the burn now on your right.
When the path forks, keep left so that you bypass Cambo House, which is just visible through the trees to your right. The path you’re on then heads for a gap in a high wall.
Go through this gap and follow the path through the walled area and across to its far side, where you will then find another door-shaped gap in the wall.
Go through the gap and follow the path as it runs alongside a wall to your left. The burn is now down on your right.
At another junction of paths, where a wooden bridge leads away to buildings on the right, do not cross the bridge. Instead continue straight ahead, still keeping the burn to your right.
This lovely stretch can be wet and muddy. When you reach another wooden footbridge, cross this and then turn left towards Kingsbarns, with the burn now on your left.
The bank on the far side of the burn gets much steeper with some interesting rocky outcrops and ferns, and then you reach a T-Junction of paths where a wooden bridges heads off to the left. Do not cross the bridge. Instead take the right turn, which immediately climbs up a slope.
When you reach a tarmac estate road, cross over onto the surfaced path on the other side and then, just ten metres from the road, turn left onto the leafy woodland path that runs parallel to the estate road. It should be signposted for ‘Kingsbarns Village’.
Just before you reach a small lodge-style building just off the main road, cross a small wooden boardwalk and follow the woodland path as it veers right into the woods.
You should now have the main road away to your left, and an open field away to your right. This stretch of path is a lovely (and safe!) alternative to walking along the busy Crail / St Andrews road.
After a minute or two you go through a wooden pedestrian gate, and soon afterwards you pass to the left of an old estate building, which several sources online refer to as an old ice house.
Continue along the woodland path until you reach a wooden gate at a farm road (Cambo Farm). Go through the gate and cross to the other side of the road, aiming left towards another wooden gate just off the main road.
Go through the second gate and follow the path alongside the old mill pond.
The path soon reaches another road (the access road for Kingsbarns golf course). Cross over the road and follow the footpath straight ahead on the other side. This soon veers right and runs parallel to the golf road for a bit, before leaving the road and making for a gap between a stone wall and a tree.
Go through the gap and turn left, so that you are now walking alongside a small burn. Ignore the wooden bridge over the burn, and carry straight on through the woods.
Just after you pass some farm buildings to your right, you arrive at a stone wall with a door in it. If you go through the door you are back on the road that leads down to Kingsbarns beach. However, immediately before the wall there is another woodland path to your right. Follow this path through the woods, soon going through a pair of gates either side of a farm track, and then follow it past the massive new building on your right. This is Allan Robertson House, the R&A’s (Royal & Ancient) cutting edge new golfing equipment test centre.
As you walk along this path you might notice how, even though the path is running through dense woodland, the surface gets progressively sandier the closer you get to the beach. And then, just after you’ve passed the R&A building, another path leads off to the left in the direction of a gate in the wall. Go through the gate and turn right onto the beach road. Follow this back to the car park.
Note: this route is for supporting information only. Anyone venturing into the countryside does so at their own risk and should be properly dressed / equipped for the occasion.
Enjoy Scotland’s Outdoors – know your access rights & responsibilities: