The Chainwalk at Kincraig, Earlsferry, Fife....Kincraig

The first thing to be said about the Chainwalk is that it is not a 'walk' is more of a scramble.    You must wear sensible footwear, be reasonably fit, have a head for heights and be sure of foot.   The terrain is mostly rocky but, with care and commonsense it can be a very enjoyable experience!    It is a tidal 'walk' which means that you can get cut off by the tide if you go round at the wrong won't drown but you could have a longish wait for the tide to go back.    Due to the type of rocks that make up the cliffs climbing is not recommended.    You must be aware of the tide times - available from the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office via this link...UKHO. where you will get the tide time for Anstruther Easter (about 10 minutes ahead of Kincraig).     Another useful site is the  Coastguard website  which  gives you the tide times and other local information.   (Remember that the UKHO use Greenwich Mean Time all year round.   This means that we have to add one hour onto their times during British Summer Time).    'The Chainwalk' goes along the bottom of Kincraig cliffs....the above photograph.

The best time to dSea pinko the Chainwalk is just after the tide is halfway out because that will give you loads of time to get round.      I live in Earlsferry and first did the Chainwalk in 1951 so I have numbered the chains from that end.    When I go round with the 'troops' (my grandchildren...'JB' and 'BT') it can take 2 - 3 hours because they plowter about doing all the chains, whilst I go round the easy way avoiding the chains where I can! 

The Chainwalk was 'born' in 1923 when a group of local people got a Committee together to raise enough money to provide easier access to the interesting rocks and plant life of the cliffs beyond Macduff's cave inlet.    A blacksmith from Arncroach was paid £100 to put the first chains in place and to cut the steps in the rocks.    The stainless steel chains of today were put in place a few years ago by Fife Council and are a great improvement though you have to  be careful after a bit of wind and salt spray, or rain, as they can become very slippery..... let's do the Chainwalk (from the Earlsferry, end)   Remember, commonsense and 'with care' at all times!

Chain 1.....  Notices at each end of the chainwalk warn people of the dangers of this walk and to get this far we have passed, and read, the warnings!   This chain is in what I call Macduffs cave inlet, and as we are doing the walk on an ebb tide after half tide we can miss Chain 1 altogether Chain 1 unless you particularly want to do it.    If you follow the natural 'path' down the rocks you will come to steps which allow you to drop into the inlet nae bother.      To 'do the chain' you have to leave the 'natural' path, you will find steps cut into the rock to help, and climb up to the chain path.....see photograph.

Macduff's cave is a bit of a disappointment because it no longer exists as a cave.    During WW2 tons of earth and rubble slide off the top of the cliffs when they fired the big guns sited above.    In one old book  the cave is described as a 'huge domed entrance' ...some of whicChain 1h fell down as the writer and his party visited the cave 200 hundred plus years ago, so in Macduff's day it would have been much grander with the cave in its innermost recesses.    Older residents of Elie and Earlsferry can remember when there was a cave though the 'domed' part had collapsed long ago.     There is a path up to the top of the 'rubble' that blocks the cave mouth where the top of the cave still shows, be careful as this path consists of loose gravel and is very slippery.    It is worth mentioning here that much of the chainwalk is over loose gravel type of rocks so  be aware of this - always!  

Chain on the west side of Macduff's inlet and you can see easily how it has to be 'done'.    At  low tides you cJB Chain 2an avoid it, and I usually do, by climbing out of the inlet, almost directly across from the steps at the bottom of the 'natural path', and  under a rock arch into what is my favourite pebble gathering place.    The photograph shows my grandson, 'JB', stepping onto the bottom step of the chain from the handy rock you use as a 'stepping stone', the chain then becomes a 'handrail' and leads you upward.     From the top of the chain you go down to a small rocky cove (my favourite pebbles place) and at the west end are  steps to get you up and out of the wee Spring and some other high tides this cove is full of water!    It is from here you will have your first look at Stottin' Stanes beach ( or Pebble beach in modern lingo) and The Ribs.    The path goes northwards over the rock (take care as it is a 'loose' gravely surface) with steps cut  where required till you eventually step down onto Stottin Stanes at its north east corner......

of Stottin' Stanes (bouncing stones) beach .....this is one of the most varied and interesting parts of the walk.    At the top of the 'beach' you can see how the stones have ground  the base rock into smooth hollows.     The land is still rising here (and has been since the last ice age) and this grinding process is now going on underneath the stones lower down on the beach, at the same time the grinding is creating the Stottin stanes beachmillions of pebbles that gives you that deep crunchy noise as you walk over them.....and there are some bonnie ones if you take time to browse.      The rocks we have been walking over to get to Stottin' stanes'  has been compressed volcanic ash (the crumbly stuff) while The Ribs was at one time molten lava, the cooling process produced the distinctive columnar shape, it is easy to compare the two different types here.    There is Sea Wormwood growing on the lower slopes at the back of the beach, which is not rare, but it is the only place I have found it around Elie and Earlsferry.    When we get to The Ribs the rocks change and we reach the part I call 'The Rockfall' made up of fallen parts of columnar basalt from The Ribs rock formation, and one of the trickier bits to cross, but cross it we must because Chain 3 is at the west end of the rockfall.   Proceeding with caution, because some of the rocks may be loose, we reach Chain 3...

Chain 3..... is a short straight up chain with foot holes cut into the rock.    Basically it is a straight forward haul youJB on Chain 4rself up chain about 1.5 metres long, at the top of which a crumbly path leads upwards to the right and to the top of Chain 4.    To avoid Chain 4 you go down and round the bottom of the Chain 4 rock formation....the way I nearly always go, but for a change I am going to do...   

Chain 4..... which is a steep, near enough perpendicular chain about 6 metres long, with toe holds in the rocks.     It is  easy enough to negotiate, but you need a 'head for heights'.    There is an ackward undercut bit at the bottom that can be difficult going down, less so climbing up!    Though there are rocks at the bottom of chain 4  the  inlet here is sandy, and is one of the places where I learnt to swim many years ago!  There are some large rocks at the west side of the inlet where you climb out onto...

The Flairs (the Floors) named because this part of the walk is flat, not billiard board flat but considerably flatter than what we have been crossing so far!      At the east end of the flairs are the rock formations known as 'Daniel and the Lions' not very recognisable close too, but fairly easily seen from theTop of C5 and 6 tops of Chains 2,3 and 4 and from West Bay(the beach we walked along to start the walk).    This was  my favourite spot for doing a spot of sea angling up until a few years ago.    Above the flairs is the last complete remains of a WW2 searchlight post...on a sadder note, one of the soldiers manning this post fell ro his death when he missed his footing in the dark.    If you look  to the right of the searchlight post you can see the different layers of rock that make up the cliffs.    We continue along the flairs till we arrive at wall of crumbly type rock and ....

Chain on an incline above a narrow rubble filled inlet and is not very spectacular but it does give a good view of 'the flairs' from the top, and shares a anchor pole with chain 6 which is spectacular....   

Chain 6....a two part chain, the top part consistsing of steps cut in the rocks with the chain as a handrail, and the second part has foot holes cut in the rock with a near perpendicular chain.    This is the longest of the up and down chains at around 8 metres but is easier to 'do' than chain 4.   It takes you down to a rock shelf just aChains 6 and 7bove the Doo's cave inlet and adjacent to the end of chain 7.    You can drop down to the inlet from the rock shelf  and avoid chain 7 if you want but it is an easy one,..

Chain 7.... a horizontal ledge cut in the rock with the chain as a handrail.....see photograph.     The ledge has eroded away in one bit and you have to step over but apart from that it is plain sailing.    On reaching Doos cavethe end of this chain you are right at the mouth of the Doo's cave, named after the residents (rock doves) that nest here.   This cave goes into the cliffs about 15 metres or so and gives you an idea of how Macduffs cave must have looked.   

On the west side of this inlet is the 8th and final chain

Chain 8....lies on the top half of the steeply sloping west side of Doo's cave inlet.    From the top you get a good look at the Doo's cave and chains 6 and 7.    You now head westwards over a jumbled  rocky path till you finally reach

the grassy bit.......where JB, BT and I always stop  for our 'nibbles' and coffee (if we have lugged the flask thus far).    From the grassy bit you can go down to the Deil's (Devil's) cave which is the deeper of the two caves.    There  has never been a chain to the west of the Deil's cave inlet so this has always been the 'end' of the chainwalk.    This means we go back up to the grassy bit and climb up the path to join the Fife Coastal Path  at the top of the cliffs where we  turn left and go down towards Kincraig point so that we can go and have a look at the..

 'odd' rock... which is different from all the other rocks at Kincraig....see photograph.     (It looks smaller than when I first saw it 57 Odd rockyears ago.....but that is maybe my imagination).    To view the rock we follow the Coastal path (westward) down to the bottom, arrive at a grassy bit and turn left towards the rocks and the 'odd rock' is easy to spot in a small 'cove'!     This rock always finished my 'chainwalk' and I then either take the Coastal Path back,  along the cliff top to Earlsferry, the views are spectacular, or round to Shell Bay then home via the 'eleeven trees' road and Grange Farm. 



I am feeling 'weak' so the additions/corrections will have to wait till later!

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