Only six beaches in Scotland are deemed worthy of the prestigious Blue Flag, and two of them – Silver Sands in Aberdour and Burntisland – are just a few miles apart.
Start from the village of Aberdour and turn down a side-road following the signs to the beach. Pass Aberdour Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. The quiet road runs down to Silver Sands. This 500m stretch of golden sands offers some superb views to the islands of Inchcolm, Inchmichery and Inchkeith, and is a popular spot for summer picnics and paddling.
2. Coast path
From the car park, the Fife Coastal Path (which is clearly signposted) runs along the top of the beach until it crosses a small footbridge over a burn. For the next ½ mile, follow a clear path sandwiched between a wooded railway line and the sea. Across the Firth of Forth you can clearly see Edinburgh Castle. The path is solid but there are a couple of short but relatively steep sections which present no problem for a motorised wheelchair but may mean hard work if you’re self-propelling or pushing.
At a narrow arched bridge the path goes under the railway before turning right into a wooded section. You soon reach a small castellated bridge over the Starley Burn Waterfall where the lime-rich water gives the rocks an unusual colour.
The next section of path runs between narrow stone walls until you pass a radio mast on the left. On the right you can see the outskirts of Burntisland. The path becomes a wider tarmac track and passes through an estate of new houses.
4. Beneath the tracks
Just before a road, turn right (following the Fife Coastal Path signs) through a passageway under the railway track. Pass a pond then turn left until you meet a quiet road. Turn right to climb steeply then turn first left and keep climbing. After passing a shop you reach Rossend Castle, which was built in the 12th century for the Abbots of Dunfermline but is now used as offices for the firm of architects that restored it in the 1970s.
Beyond the castle, start to drop downhill, passing through a stone archway which is a remnant of Burntisland’s ancient town walls. After the road crosses the railway again, turn right at a T-junction and drop down to High Street.
Turn left and follow the High Street until you reach the entrance to the park. A smooth path runs straight across the grass. Where it splits, take the left fork and follow it for 250m to a ramp under the railway that takes you to the promenade. At high tide the waves come right up to the path, but when the tide is out the beach becomes an enormous expanse of sand fringed with rockpools.
For the return journey, there’s a bus-stop beside the entrance to the park or a train station down from the High Street.
The entire route follows either tarmac or solid cinder paths so is wheelchair accessible and good for pushchairs and buggies. Some sections are steep, which is no problem for a motorised wheelchair but hard work if you’re self-propelling or pushing.
HOW TO GET THERE
BY CAR: Take the A921 along the Fife coast between the Forth Road Bridge and Kirkcaldy.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Stagecoach Fife bus number 7 runs between Rosyth and Leven.
Tel: 01592 261461
Regular trains run from Edinburgh. Aberdour is on the Fife Circle Line.
The Cedar Inn
20 Shore Road, Aberdour KY3 0TR
Tel: 01383 860310
Ordnance Survey Landranger 66 or Explorer 367.
Grid ref: NT 192 854