Fife With Kids: Kinghorn & Pettycur Beach
Our quest to visit as many beaches as possible via public transport from Edinburgh took us out to Kinghorn in Fife the other week. Kinghorn has been on my travel bucket list for a while, and despite the hazy weather we had on our trip that day it did not disappoint. It’s a picturesque seaside town, nestled on a hillside along the Fife Coastal path. As well as two beaches, there’s also a Loch and woodland walks, so it really does have it all for a great day out.
How to get there
Kinghorn lies on the train line from Edinburgh to Glenrothes. You can either get on at Waverley Station, but also at Haymarket on the west side of the city centre as the train stops off there. Since Haymarket is closer for us, we started there and the train ride took around 35 minutes. The train station at Kinghorn is right in the centre of town. It’s just over a 5 minute walk from the station to Kinghorn Beach next to the harbour front, or a 15 minute walk to the more extensive Pettycur Beach on the south-west side of town. One thing to note is that, as mentioned above, Kinghorn is nestled against a hillside with some very steep streets and/or steps to get to the beaches, so something to consider regarding accessibility.
I should probably say beaches rather than beach, since there’s more than one, but it was Pettycur Beach that was our main target. When we came in on the train, we went right past Pettycur Beach and our initial reaction was “Where’s the water?!” The water was sooo far out, and it wasn’t even high tide at that point as the tide was already on its way back in. Apparently, when the tide is all the way out at its lowest point, it is possible to walk with care directly from Pettycur Beach to neighbouring Burntisland Beach but please don’t attempt this if you don’t know what you are doing! You can get caught out by the incoming tide quicker than you think.
When we eventually arrived at Pettycur Beach in person, we discovered that in the first cove, closest to town, the water wasn’t actually nearly as far out and this seemed to be where people were settling down for a day of paddling.
We walked along the coast line a bit to the next cove along, and that’s where the low tide had exposed a huge area of sand and mud flats. The boys were actually a little unsettled by how far out the water was as they had never seen anything like this before (and perhaps heard too many cautious tales about people getting stuck in mud flats or being surprised by the incoming tide) so we played some beach ball on the sand above the high tide line and had our picnic on the rocks.
Speaking of incoming tides, when it was time to walk back to the first cove and the town centre, we discovered that part of the way we had come was already under water! Not to worry though, you never get completely cut off as there is a path above the high tide line that leads you back and off the beach. It just meant in some places scrambling over rocks instead of walking across the sand. We felt completely safe, but it’s another thing to consider in terms of accessibility.
Other Points of Note
- On our way from Kinghorn train station to Pettycur Beach, we also passed a nice little playground where we stopped over. If you look on a map, the playground is on Inch View, opposite Kinghorn Cemetery. And right next to the cemetery is a set of steps that take you down to the beach.
- There’s also another little playground, just a 5 minute walk to the north-west of the train station on the corner of Nethergate and S Overgate, but we didn’t have time to check that out.
- You obviously can’t have a day at the seaside without ice cream. I couldn’t say where the best place to get ice cream in Kinghorn is, but the convenience store on the corner of Station Brae and Rossland Place had an ice cream machine and the ice cream was actually really good.
- Just along from the convenience store, there’s a very nice community centre behind the library on Rossland Place. They very kindly let us use their toilets as the ones at the station were closed. The community centre also has a cafe, and there’s lots of seats to sit outside too.
- We did later discover, when we popped down to see Kinghorn Beach and the harbour front before our train back, that there are also public toilets down by the harbour front, which don’t seem to be marked on Google maps. If you’re walking down Harbour Road, then you can actually access a wee path that leads down to the harbour front. On maps it looks like the path isn’t connected to Harbour Road, but the access to the path is opposite the train station exit, where it says ‘1936’ on the map. About two thirds of the way down that path is where the toilets are.
- And, finally, as mentioned at the beginning, there’s Kinghorn Loch, which we didn’t get to on this occasion as the boys were starting to get tired, but we definitely want to come back for it. From the train station, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the edge of the Loch, and then another 10 minutes or so to walk around to the north side of the Loch. There’s a wee art studio there on Woodland Rise, called ‘Art by the Loch’, and they sometimes do drop in art sessions for kids. If you follow them on Facebook they post all the details there.
We all fell in love with Kinghorn at first site. Not only is it picturesque, but it has everything you need for a great day out – beaches, playgrounds, woodland, a Loch, public toilets, a nice community centre cafe. We’ll definitely be coming back here.