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North Shore: Fife Ness to Forth Rail Bridge

Page history last edited by Osbert 8 years, 1 month ago

Fife Ness Coastguard Station

Former Coastguard Station - closed end of Sept 2012. Beach landing possible in an immaculate sandy bay round the corner of the Ness given a calm sea.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Chr, Pr, Pub, SC, Shr, Wc, Rest, W.


A drying picture-postcard harbour situated 2M SW of Fife Ness. Enter –3+3HW. Very sheltered once inside but the entrance can be dangerous with an easterly blow. Approach exactly on the leading line 295 degrees to keep clear of rocks. The entrance opens to starboard just before you run on to the sandy beach. As you enter between the stone piers watch out for the coffer dam at their base which is the limiting factor in getting in when the tide is low. Secure to the ladder on the outer wall to check depths if necessary. The slipway is in the SE corner, moor as close to the head of this as you can, here the bottom is of firm golden sand.


The town and coast walks are lovely. The somewhat unpleasant smell is that of the decomposing seaweed that gathers in the harbour.



Facilities as Anstruther.


Situated ½M east of Anstruther. A small drying harbour susceptible to surge in onshore weather. Sandy beach high up near slipway, said to be rocky lower down. Recent harbour wall reconstruction and other work completed in 2002 is said to have improved the harbour for leisure craft.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Fuel, Pr, Pub, SC, Shr, Wc, Rest, W.


A safe and straightforward entrance leading to a drying harbour but is to be avoided in heavy onshore weather. At LW you can tuck in behind the West Pier although beware of projecting stonework at foot. The outer harbour is of hard sand, the inner is of mud. There will always be room for a dinghy in the inner harbour.


Check with the Harbourmaster for local information. You will find the high quality toilets and showers at the head of the pier. The Scottish Fisheries Museum is worth a visit and is housed in buildings spanning the 16th to 19th centuries, the museum has a large collection of equipment, paintings, photographs and models. The restored fishing vessel ‘The Reaper’ is on display. The town is busy and interesting.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Chr Pr, Pub, Wc, Rest, W.


A busy, noisy commercial fishing port. You are not welcome. The eastern outer drying harbour which is affected by swell is said to be useful to dinghies up near the slipway. The town is pretty but perhaps is best visited by dinghy cruisers using neighbouring ports. The Fishermen’s Co-operative chandlery specialises in galvanised fittings.


St Monans

(refer to Imray chartlet)
Bus, Pr, Pub, Wc, Rest, W.


The harbour is recognisable from sea by the conspicuous square towered church with the stunted steeple and the grey boatbuilding shed. Enter on the leading marks. In settled weather the outer east harbour is fine. For a more secure berth choose the west harbour and lie against the south or east walls. Toilets are at the top end of town. The village is beautiful – a must. Dues £8.50/night.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Pr, Pub, SC, Shr, Wc, Rest, W.


Thill Rock (dries 0.8m) shown on the chartlet west of the entrance is now marked by a red can buoy. There are no other dangers. Dry out anywhere on sand above or outside the moorings or against the wall. Beware of some pockets of soft sand when the tide goes out. Step in them and you may get stuck! The harbour is safe to enter in worsening weather –3+3HW. Run in around and above the moorings and tuck in near the wall.


The port has a friendly harbourmaster and sailing club on the wall which may provide a meal most days as well as toilets and showers. Elie & Earlsferry are fine villages.


Shell Bay

(Caravan site facilities include shr, rest, and bar)


The entire bay is sand and even at HW most of the bay is no more than chest deep, however the tide comes in and out a long way. For access to the caravan site in the northeast corner it would be best to beach near HW. Negotiate for use of facilities - then tell us how you got on.


Sea Caves west of Kincraig Point


The caves near Elie are quite famous. They can be seen by boat when sailing close-by in good conditions but a rubber dinghy would be needed for further exploration. There is a walk along the cliff base right round the Point. It is called the ‘Chain Walk’ because to get up the rock ledges you pull yourself up chains anchored into the rock face. It is a good summer walk – only possible at low tide. It is said that the caves are interesting. Presumably you take the ground in Shell Bay a couple of hours before LW.


Cocklemill Burn

No facilities.


The burn runs into Largo Bay at the point where the long sandy beach meets Ruddons Point. Arrive before HW in suitable sea conditions, beach nearby and carry out your reconnaissance. Enter near the top of the tide (at least 5.0m) and dry out in complete shelter behind the sand bank.


The inlet is surrounded by rough grazing marsh and is an excellent on-board or shore camping spot. Apart from a caravan site to the south, the footbridges of the coastal path this is a remote area and things may not have changed for 100s of years.



Pr, Pubs.


Affected by swell. Enter drying harbour entrance –2+2HW for a lunchtime stop to try out the food in the Railway Inn or Crusoe Hotel. Dry out near bottom of slip on sand or even more sheltered above the road bridge but you will have to lower the mast. Look out for occasional large stones.


Local youths hang around the harbour but you can oversee the scene from the pubs. Don’t miss the famous Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk) statue. The sailing club dinghies are on the top of the beach some 200m to the east. In suitable conditions it is possible to weave in between rocks to dry out on firm sand.



(no current information)



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Facilities unknown.


Methil is a ‘deep’ water harbour and is safe to enter in all but bad onshore conditions. The long narrow entrance to the filled-in dock provides good shelter for the motor boat club. You should expect to moor alongside one of them. You will need to borrow a key to exit the secure compound and return. The club members are friendly and helpful. Overnighting is possible but not really desirable.



Faclilities unknown.


Small steep-to beach of stones poorly protected by remains of sea wall and harbour defence stonework. Land adjacent to beached small craft.


West Wemyss

(pronounced weems)
Auto, Pub, Pr, Bus,


A pretty little drying harbour. Enter –3+3HW and dry out on shingle to west of the large white house under the red cliff.


Autobank in shop. Bus No 13 to Kirkaldy. Local Boat Club members very helpful. Improvements such as mud clearance are taking place.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Bus, Fuel, Pr, Pub, SC, Wc, Rest, Rly at Kirkaldy, W.


Enter this drying harbour –3+3HW. Visiting yachts are advised to moor alongside the west pier on shingle but the outer harbour is subject to surge in onshore weather. To escape, move in to the inner harbour and settle on mud.


Note that Imray’s chartlet of Dysart does not show the padlocked pedestrian bascule bridge that must be lifted to allow you through to the safe inner harbour. Club members have keys and will open the bridge on request. Partial dredging (perimeter) of the inner dock has taken place (2000) and more is planned. Take advice where to lie.


This old coal port is picturesque and friendly. A harbour café/restaurant is to open shortly. Amateur wooden boatbuilding and repair takes place in harbour sheds. The results can be seen in the harbour in the form of Dysart Yawls - open clinker sailing craft using sand bags as ballast. Only basic facilities are available within the club. Fuel ½M. £5 per night. 



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Bus, Fuel, Pr, Pub, Shr, Wc, Rest, Rly, W.


This harbour never totally dries and in settled conditions entry is possible at LW. In strong winds from NE to S the entrance and immediately offshore will have surf and should not be attempted. Moor temporarily alongside local craft and seek advice where best to lie for the night. The dock is thought to be available –2HW.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Bus, Pr, Pub, SC, Shr, Wc, Rest, Rly, W.


Situated 3 cables north of Kinghorn Ness. It is an attractive drying harbour and anchorage in appropriate conditions. In a blow from NE to S - forget it. When entering do not go northward of the pier without caution because of uncharted rocks. Anchor in line with, or to the south of the pier on sand. I have never landed there so cannot advise where to beach. The local sailing club members will surely help.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Wc, (Kinghorn facilities ½ M)


Situated 3 cables west of Kinghorn Ness. This small drying harbour is exposed to winds from W and SW. Enter –2+2HW and take a wide turn around the shingle bank at the end of the pier. Take advice where to lie or go alongside what looks to be a little-used boat. The bottom is sand and thin mud. The harbour is good for an overnight stop.


The toilet is an autoloo. Shower available at the sports and leisure facilities of the caravan site nearby - offer to pay for a swim. Some wooden boat repair is carried out here. Don’t miss the wonderful beach shacks on the wall.



(refer to Imray Burntisland chartlet)


Situated ½M east of Burntisland entrance, this drying anchorage with a bottom of sand gives shelter from SW to N. It is most suitable only for a short stop.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Pr, Pub, SC, Shr, Rest, Rly, W.


This is a commercial deepwater harbour and is safe to enter at all tides although in rough onshore conditions the entrance can be hazardous with rebounding waves. Sailing club moorings are immediately to starboard. Secure to wall. Alternatively go alongside slipway just east of West Dock entrance. Club house on sea wall. The harbour is bumpy in onshore weather and from Pilot Boats wash – fend well.


Carron Harbour

also known as Starleyburn
(refer to Imray Burntisland chartlet)


Home of Kinghorn Yacht Services, prop. Mr Gordon Tulloch who builds and repairs wooden boats. He gives permission for dinghies to use the harbour. Enter –4 +4HW and moor to west wall, It is possible to dry out on mud but you need to watch her down. Noise from railway.



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Pr, Pub, SC, Wc, Rest, Rly, W.


A picturesque, drying harbour that offers shelter in all weather. Approach with care from SW as Little Craigs and Craigdimas lie in your way. The bottom is mostly of squishy mud. Lie alongside the wall (SW corner) for convenience but you will be closely scrutinised by every passing tourist, or dry out on the clean sandy beach in the SW corner but leave enough room for the slipway to be used. Check in with the HM.


The town is lovely, a nice touch being the gardening in and around the railway station. Note the anchorage N of Hawkcraig Point in Silversands Bay, it gives good shelter from W and SW if you tuck in close.


Barnhill Bay

(refer to Imray Inchcolm chartlet, just north of Vault Point)
No facilities.


This seldom visited bay lies 8 cables SW of Aberdour. It gives good shelter from N through W to S. Enter and anchor towards the southern side of the bay to avoid the rocky north. The bottom is hard sand and is a good place for a picnic or overnighting. Approach the small HW yellow sandy beach on a bearing of 250 deg to avoid ancient sewer pipe which uncovers at LW - unmarked on Imray. Golf Course above beach.


Ferny Bay

(refer to Imray Inchcolm chartlet)
No faclilities.


This small sandy bay lies between Braefoot Point terminal and Braefoot Point. Not that you’d want to, but go no closer than 100m to the gas terminal pier.


Braefoot Point

(refer to Imray Dalgety Bay chartlet)
No facilities.


A wonderful, quiet LW picnic spot in calm conditions. Imray shows a hook of rock extending in a SWly direction then NW from the now ruined pier. In fact a gap in the rocks can be negotiated with due caution which allows you to run onto a mud/sand/mussel shell beach at –2+2 LW. Good holding, unspoiled, remote and with excellent views of the Forth.


Dalgety Bay NE corner

(refer to Imray Dalgety Bay chartlet)
No facilities.


Anchorage completely sheltered NW to SE. Enter corner of Bay keeping fairly close to Long Craig and avoid outfall marked by a stake. Anchor opposite middle of open field on sand (large stones at top of beach).


Dalgety Bay

(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Fuel, Pr, SC, Shr, Wc, Rly, W.


The Tesco superstore (½M) has Autobanks. Fuel 1M near new railway station which is unmarked on some OS maps. Other facilities at sailing club. This club takes the training of young ‘uns seriously. At weekends when they are not sailing Lazer Pico’s you will observe plenty of amusing horseplay around the club. The Scandinavian style wooden built club house is in a wonderful location of mature woodland overlooking a beautiful part of the Forth. Take a day off and watch the seniors hurtling around in their high performance boats from your vantage point of the bar!


Make for the refurbished pier just south of the club –1½+1½HW and lie alongside the wall or run up high onto the clean sandy beach. Good shelter here in all but a SWly blow.


It is believed to be possible to launch at the sailing club.


Downing Point Anchorage

(refer to Imray Dalgety Bay chartlet)
No facilities.


The anchorage gives shelter from SW to NE whilst allowing an excellent view of traffic in the mid Forth. Approach has no dangers apart from Thank Rock which is marked by a withie which is difficult to see until close by. Anchor to the NE and close to the beacon on sand or dry out a the top of the beach.


St Davids Harbour

No facilities.


Ed Wingfield wrote: "Now mostly filled in and part of a three & four storey housing development. It would still be useful as a bolt-hole in a wild easterly. Anchor in the centre in what looks like good holding. Difficult to get ashore." However it looks from Google maps as if the harbour is now completely filled. Investigation required. 



(refer to Imray chartlet)
Auto, Bus, Fuel, Laun, Pr, Pub, Rest, Rly, W, Wc.


The Town Quay is useable –3+3HW. Keithing Burn shifts from time to time but is currently marked by plastic bottles. The local boatclub is the best place to enquire where to lie temporarily, especially if taking the ground. Vandalism may be an occasional problem. If just a quick trip to the town use the west wall. This place has a commercial/industrial past and now suffers from neglect. It has probably never been pretty but it’s interesting.


Port Laing

(best shown on OS65)
No facilities.


Situated ½M south of West Ness. A sandy bay offering shelter from W. A good picnic site or anchor off in 2m.


North Queensferry Old Harbour

(refer to Imray chartlet)
Facilities as North Queensferry.


This tiny harbour may be entered –2½+2½HW. It gives shelter to all but easterlies. Enter outer harbour heading for the conspicuous white house above the beach. When almost on the beach the entrance opens to the south. The west wall is marked by a red and white banded pole. In kind conditions it is possible to beach in front of the white house on shingle but watch for shipping wash as you dry out.


The area surrounding the Old Harbour has seen considerable new housing development. The harbour is crowded but you may be able to dry out on the shallower western side.


Key to facilities ashore

Auto = Autobank; Bus = Buses; Chr = Chandler; Fuel = Petrol; Laun = Launderette; Pr = Provisions; Pub = Pub; Rly = Trains; Rest = Restaurant; SC = Sailing Club; Shr = Shower; W = Water; Wc = Toilets


Whilst this information is given in good faith and every effort has been made to avoid errors, no responsibility is accepted regarding its complete accuracy and the author or website owners will accept no responsibility for damage or loss arising from any mistake or omission arising from its use.


Note that this Pilot is based on material originally prepared in the 1990s with no updates after 2003. In time, updates and corrections will be made.


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