Elie Chain Walk Walking

For many years this was Britain's only via ferrata, and it's still our only free one. With its pleasant coastal setting and enjoyably non-taxing assisted clambering, the Elie Chain Walk is a unique mini day out. It's the perfect bite-sized adventure for families, or just something a bit different to do when there's poor weather in the hills. NB. Do watch the tide, as you'll get wet in some places at high water and could even be cut off by rising tides if there's a big sea running. The best source of info is the EasyTide service - Elie is about halfway between Methil and Anstruther East. There's a window about two hours either side of low water to do this route dry-shod.

On Scotland's original via ferrata, the Elie Chain Walk  © Dan Bailey -
On Scotland's original via ferrata, the Elie Chain Walk
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Detailed description

NO4696000539 Go west past the caravan park, where you bear left to reach the shore. Turn left onto the Fife Coastal Path along the east side of Shell Bay. At a path junction go right to reach the headland at the mouth of the bay. Follow the Coastal Path over the first section of cliff, then take an un-signed trail rightwards down steep grass to a level rocky area above the sea. Here there's a sign marking the start of the Chain Walk.

NT4633099757 Go east over the rocks to the first of several sections of chain. This leads down into an inlet at the mouth of a sea cave. Ahead is a horizontal chained section, followed by a steep chain-assisted climb on carved footholds leading up to a narrow rib. Descend the far side (more chain) onto a boulder beach. Continue along the foot of the cliffs, passing weird rock pinnacles out on a wave-washed platform. The next bit of scrambling is a steep groove with an undercut start (more chain, and carved holds). Then descend a short step onto to another boulder beach below a distinctive columnar crag. Cross wave-sculpted rocks onto the next headland, climbing just left of a natural arch to reach the edge of a very pronounced inlet. A chain leads diagonally down to the rubbly floor. Now traverse right along another chain - photogenic if the sea's on its way in. A short ladder of carved holds then takes you down to easier ground at the end of the Chain Walk.

NT4687199839 Follow the sandy beach towards Earlsferry.

NT4736899855 Cut left to climb wooden steps, then follow the Fife Coastal Path up onto Kincraig Hill. Head west along the clifftop past wartime bunkers. It's possible to descend direct to the start from a radio antenna, but nicer to continue along the cliff edge to retrace your steps around Shell Bay.

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