Dysart To St Andrews
ROUTE LENGTH: 37 MILES
Follow the A955 to Wemyss. A detour to the caves can be made here. Join the A915 coming out of Leven, and then branch right on to the A917 after Lower Largo to arrive at Elie and take a detour to Earlsferry. There are the remains of a pilgrims’ chapel at Chapel Ness. Then continue on the A917 which goes to St Andrews by way of Crail.
Cyclists can follow roads to Lower Largo. (The Coastal path has not yet been designated as a cycle route). From Lower Largo, go North to skirt Largo Law, and continue to St Andrews via The Peat Inn. A roundabout route will have to be taken if wanting to reach Earlsferry. (The Coastal path is not suitable for cycling on this stretch).
Walkers can continue to follow the Fife Coastal Path all the way to St Andrews.
By Public Transport
There is a bus route from Kirkaldy and Dysart to Leven, and on by way of Crail, to St Andrews.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
Beyond Dysart you reach Wemyss with its early Christian cave carvings (to which access is now restricted) and then the industrial ports of Levenmouth, Buckhaven and Methil- the only one still operational. Proceeding by Largo you enter the East Neuk of Fife with its chain of harbours.
Earlsferry, now part of Elie, was the destination of the pilgrim ferry from North Berwick in East Lothian. St Monans has one of Scotland’s oldest medieval parish churches. At Pittenweem St Fillan’s Cave is a modern shrine while the Priory, sited where the parish church now stands, was linked with the Celtic monastery of St Ethernan (later known as St Adrian) out on the Isle of May. Adrian and his fellow missionary Monanus, after whom St Monans is named, were both killed on the island by Vikings following the defeat of the Scottish King Constantine II and his execution at Fife Ness. The boat to the island sails from the fishing town of Anstruther and arrives at Pilgrim Haven where the well was believed to have properties of healing and fertility.
St Serf’s mother Thenew sought refuge on the island when she was cast adrift and survived by drinking this precious fresh water. The island’s name may mean Island of Maidens suggesting an ancient place sacred to women. Later with St Ethernan’s legacy the island was a major pilgrimage centre, and modern excavations found many burials including one of a pilgrim with the cockle shell of St James in his mouth.
Continuing through the beautiful East Neuk towards St Andrews, turn off the main road at the signpost to Dunino Church to encounter a remarkable combination of Pictish and Christian culture. Just beyond the church amidst the trees is a hidden glen with a sacred pool formed from the natural rock, and beyond that a rare set of rock carvings.
You reach St Andrews on the southern harbour side, looking up to the site of the original monastic settlement on the headland. This has been a very Celtic journey, inspired by Scotland’s medieval Queen and Saint, while passing through some of the most distinctively Scottish townscapes of later centuries. And always at your side is the sea wih its brisk east winds and sharp clear light.