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Report on Elie Chain Walk
1 September 2007

Off we set in the pouring rain to drive the 2 hours to Fife. The forecast was looking grim and we thought we might not be able to do the Chain Walk but decided to go anyway. This was everyone except Jacqui who was lying in bed and heard the rain on her Velux window and was easily put off!!!

Alison, Maureen, Mark and I arrived at Lower Largo at 10:30am where Michael and Lydia were waiting for us. The rain was off and the sky brightened up for us. Calamity.....Maureen forgot her boots and had to keep on her fancy trainers which were not ideal for walking in but she had no choice. The walk, which was part of the Fife Coastal Path, was initially easy along the shore. This is where Maureen's troubles began as we has to cross over water and her trainers leaked. So she hitched a cokey back from Mark.......not a pretty sight!!! We spotted a seal lying dead on the beach with it's head bitten off. So that got us all wondering.....could there be sharks out there??? We headed past Ruddons Point and through the caravan park at Shell Bay. The next headland was Kincraig Point, where we would find the chains. So we headed uphill along the path near the edge of the cliff. Michael spotted a narrow path down towards the caves and we hoped this was the right route as it was not marked. Down we went and sure enough we were on the right route as there was a large sign warning everyone of the risks.

The local council replaced all the chains, posts and fixings recently and plan to maintain them. We were there at low tide so if we fell off we would sustain a serious injury as opposed to drowning!!! The first encounter with a shiny new chain seemed easy enough. There were plenty of footholds in the rocks although they were rather slippy. This was more of a problem for Maureen in those fancy trainers. Michael was the intrepid leader with Mark the official photographer at the rear. We all helped each other find footholds as we ventured up and down the rocks. Mark 's piece of advise to me, as I was trying to lower myself down a rock, was "don't let go" and then wanted me to smile at the camera as he said it might be the last photo I get taken. The last chain was the most difficult as we traversed along a rock but the chains made you swing out and you needed strength in your arms for this one. I was dangling at this point and my arms were aching so I hung on with my arms over the chains to rest. I had to lower myself off the rock onto the rocks and pebbles below. Michael noticed that this chain could be bypassed so I had enough by this time and missed it out. The rain was just beginning to come on now which was lucky as the rocks would be slippier when wet.

We then passed along by the golf course into Earlsferry then to Elie. In Elie we headed to the Ship Inn and we were keen for something appetising to eat. Typical of Scottish hospitality.....it was 2:45 and they stopped serving food at 2:30!!!! Maureen's feet by this time were soaking and aching in her fancy trainers and she along with Michael and Lydia decided to bus it back to Lower Largo when the rest of us walked back along the cliff. The rain eased for a wee while but the time we were nearing the end of the walk it was on heavy. Alison and I walked along a path in the sand dunes and Mark decided to keep to the sand. He made the right move as the rain on the reedy grass soaked us and the water ran down our trousers, down our socks and into our boots. Our feet were swishing as we walked! We were absolutely soaked through by the time we got back to the car but luckily we had brought along a change of clothes and got changed in the grubby public toilets...yuck! The drive back to Ayrshire was not pleasant due to heavy rain, surface water and spray. It was even more unpleasant because Mark and Alison snored their heads off and I was left driving on my own!!

The next day bruises started to appear all over the inside of my upper arms. The chains must have been nipping my skin when I has hanging on. As you can imagine the difficulty explaining that!!!

Anyway a great day was had by all and it certainly was a walk with a difference.

Irene Cahill

ladies in red
chain walk
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east coast sand
cave
warning sign
getting started
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cave women !!
cave women and cave man
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Photos: Mark Kinnon


Affiliated to:

Mountaineering Council of Scotland
Scottish Youth Hostels Association

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