"What are you doing on the weekend?" asked my lovely boss.
"We're going to do the Elie Chain Walk."
"Is that the one with the chains and cliffs along the coast?"
"Did you know a man died doing that last year?"
Hmm, thanks boss.
Elie is a charming village on the Fife coast. We've passed through it many times on our way to Anstruther's famous fish and chips but had no idea the Chain Walk existed until someone posted about it on Gareth's favourite hillwalking forum.
Named one of the Best Walks In Britain by the Daily Telegraph, we were hooked by this description:
"The Chain Walk forms a side-loop to the tranquil, 90-mile Fife Coastal Path… The fun chained section – a kind of British via ferrata – hugs the sea from Elie village, careering round the cliffs of Kincraig Point to Shell Bay…
Together with footholds, a series of eight fixed chains 10 to 50 feet long provide something to cling to as you slither up, down, along and over alarming rocks while waves crash in from the Firth of Forth. Children aged nine and over can tackle this breathtaking route, which defies being termed a mere "walk". This is adventure. Stay away near high tide."
It turns out the poor man was walking along the tops of the cliff when he fell, not doing the Chain Walk itself. Still, it was unnerving on Saturday to be greeted by a sign featuring stick figures in peril:
It was very windy but the tide was low and it was miraculously bright and sunny. There's no way in hell I'd have done it if there'd been the slightest hint of moisture on those rocks!
Nobody seems to know exactly when or why the chain walk created but most seem to think it was during the 1920s. I'd like to think they made it just for fun. It was exhilarating and nerve-wracking and the whole time I wanted to yell HURRAH in a jolly Famous Five manner. I haven't climbed anything since the monkey bars in primary school. I loved hauling myself up the rocks, grasping the chains with shaky hands, heart pounding as the waves smacked the cliffs.
Here's Dr G in action…
And here's me inching along not realising Dr G was snapping away on his phone. The resolution is shoddy but you can just see how the seat of my trousers almost wore away from sliding down rocks on my arse. Not good with descents as you know, so an arse makes a handy fifth limb!
Just have to note that for once I was not the clutz of the day! Gareth slipped on a slimy rock in a flat, non-perilous part of the journey. He even did the comedy flapping hands as he tumbled onto his butt. He was not injured which left me free to cackle, which is totally acceptable since he has mocked my misadventures many times before.
My photos don't really do the Walk justice as I was too busy trying not to fall into the sea to take proper ones. I tried to make a video of Gareth darting across the rocks but forgot to switch off the time-lapse mode. So hope the words convey that this was a ripsnorter of a way to spend a Saturday morning! If you ever find yourself in Scotland in decent weather I'd highly recommend it!
Here's some good photos elsewhere:
- These pics capture the journey with cliffs and crashing waves
- A moody shot of the beach
- Stunning landscapes and folk danging from chains on a blog called Tinned Tomatoes