I was asked if I could recommend any bike routes that avoided busy roads. I hate cycling in traffic, so tend to avoid main roads wherever possible. There are plenty of country roads in North-East Fife which are interesting and offer spectacular views, so I'm going to share some of these with you. Beware that none of the routes are completely traffic-free and you will occasionally have to use a main road for a short distance, so be careful!
Our first suggestion is a family-friendly outing to the north side of the Eden estuary at Tentsmuir. Take a picnic, explore miles of beach or just have a rest at the mobile cafe at the visitor centre. At certain times and tides you will see seals on the sandbanks.
We start on Old Station Road, just past the Old Course Hotel and the driving range, where a sign indicates Cycle Route 1 off to your right. It runs parallel to the A91 to Guardbridge (mainly set apart, but with a section on the pavement facing oncoming traffic; be careful!) At the start of Guardbridge, fork right onto the old road and cross the old bridge. At this point, I recommend dismounting, as you have to cross the A919 (again following Cycle Route sign) through a newish housing estate. This was built on the site of the former station and you now follow the line of the former railway round the back of the village; at the bridge over the Moultrie burn, transfer to the old road again through a park and another estate. At this point there is a path heading north beside the A919 for a hundred metres before you carefully cross this busy road at a junction, and head towards Leuchars. Follow this quieter road past the army base into the village: at the church (one of the few surviving Norman examples in Scotland) turn right towards Tentsmuir. Follow the road (it is single-track, and you are likely to meet cars) until a signpost off to the right. This leads directly to the Nature Reserve. There are forestry tracks laid out mainly in a grid if you want to explore further.
Return is by the same route. The round trip is about 17 miles.
This one, starting at the west end of St Andrews, took us inland heading for the historic town of Falkland, returning by as much of a circular route as my companion could stand; 40 miles and quite a bit of climbing. The final destination though, is worth some minor inconvenience with its historic houses and palace and a choice of interesting eateries.
Leaving St Andrews by Hepburn Gardens and the Craigtoun Road, the route takes in Pitscottie, Ceres, Craigrothie, Chance Inn, Kingskettle, Freuchie and Falkland; the return is roughly parallel (slightly to the south) and climbs up to New Gilston and Peat Inn before returning to town.
This is one of my favourites, due in large part to a cracking section along the spine of East Fife to Crail with magnificent views across the Firth of Forth and out to the Isle of May. This section has given me record times (when the wind was from the west!)
From the West Port head out Hepburn Gardens towards Craigtoun; just past the entrance to the Duke's course turn sharp left up a short hill through Denhead and on on up the hill to Peat Inn. Turn left in the village and follow signs for Crail. At Higham Toll (good spot for a picnic) cross the road to Leven and begin the gradual descent to Crail. You'll pass Lochty farm (terminus of the short-lived East of Fife Railway), cross the Anstruther road and pass the Secret Bunker as you approach your destination. In Crail, I always head for the harbour, but there are cafes and chip shops to choose from. Heading back to St Andrews, you can stick to the main A917 (shorter & flatter, but busier); I prefer to head inland at Kingsbarns and turn right just before Dunino, through Stravithie before re-joining the main road at Brownhills. Almost 30 miles.
This is another lovely route, particularly if the wind is easterly when it will blow you home. From St Andrews, head out of town up Kinkell Braes on the Crail Road; at the Brownhills garage fork right towards Anstruther (B9131). The road keeps climbing up past the old Stravithie station on your left, through Dunino and Beley Bridge. At the top of the hill (at about 7 miles) pause to admire the view over the Forth to East Lothian. You can continue on this road right down to Anstruther, but I like a little detour to the left to see the lovely village of Kilrenny (10 miles). From there it's 3 miles along the A917 to Crail, with its picturesque harbour, houses and tea shops. Suitably refreshed, head back for St Andrews (still the A917). Various dead-end detours (Kingsbarns, Boarhills) can take you down to quiet beaches before you reach home, if the fancy takes you. About 24 miles without detours.
This ended up a bit of a roundabout route and, with the wind from the north, caused my companion some inconvenience by the end (I still haven't heard the last of it.) From the west end of St Andrews, head out past Craigtoun and bear left up to Peat Inn. Continue over the hill and descend to Largoward (8 miles from St Andrews), where there is an offset crossroads; you are heading basically straight across towards Elie. There's a fast section down towards (but not into) Colinsburgh; at about 11 miles you meet a bigger road. Turn left, and immediately right to the lovely village of Kilconquhar (not pronounced like it looks - ask a local!). Through it, follow the road round the loch. Again you will meet a bigger road; again turn left and immediately right. (NB this short section to Elie is different from the map link below, but is worth taking). This takes you through Elie golf course to the once-separate village of Earlsferry and into Elie (spend some time exploring the harbours and beaches here; maybe even find yourself a cafe). Leaving Elie on the A917, head to Pittenweem via St Monans (again, these places have harbours worth seeing). In Pittenweem (18 miles) turn left (signposted Carnbee and Arncroach); when you come to a t-junction head left for Arncroach. Climb up through the village until another t-junction. Left again, and in a couple of miles you come to Higham Toll; if you don't mind a little bit of traffic turn right back to St Andrews through Cameron. If you prefer a longer, quieter route, go straight over at Higham until you reach Peat Inn again; turn right and retrace your journey back to town. 31 miles, or 29 if you return from Higham toll by the A915.
This records the maiden voyage of my new bike and therefore the speeds recorded, whilst nothing to write home about, show a distinct improvement on my previous efforts.
I headed out of town on the A91 to Guardbridge, then up to Leuchars and took the back road to Tayport; there's an off-road path along the old railway line as far as the Tay Road bridge, then down into Newport. (At roughly the halfway point, my favourite cafe here is Kitsch'n'Bake on the front.) Suitably refreshed, continue west through Wormit (admire the view over the Tay Rail Bridge at the far end) and continue as the road loops southwards. At about 20 miles you meet the A92; turn right for a couple of miles, then take a minor road to the left (signposted Logie). This is a brute of a hill which climbs for a mile and a half but takes you to a lovely high area peppered with viewpoints. Continue on this road to a T-junction (25 miles) and turn left; at the next t-junction turn left again to Cupar.
From there return to St Andrews via Pitscottie and Craigtoun, avoiding the worst of the traffic. (38 miles)
I had the great good fortune to take this route on my tandem with a couple of young fit stokers; I'm not saying I don't usually put any effort in, but somehow on this occasion I did record my best time for 10 miles.
From St Andrews head out to Strathkinness via the High Road; at the crossroads go straight over and down the hill to Dairsie Bridge. The 'main' road turns right over the bridge; you continue straight on through the lovely glen of Kemback and Dura Den. At Pitscottie (8.5 miles out) turn left briefly, then right on the B939 towards Ceres. You may want to explore the historic village centre (Ceres Inn with real ales, shop, Weigh House cafe with great home baking, etc) but your route out is at the west end heading for Peat Inn. At Peat Inn turn left to Higham Toll picnic area. At this point we headed towards St Andrews on the A915 for a couple of miles then veered right at Johnnie Paul's corner (signposted Lathockar and Dunino); a mile along this road, turn left towards the Grange and back into town. If it's strawberry season, you'll want to stop at Allanhill farm, enjoy the views and and get some fresh produce. 22 miles or so.
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