Elie Chain Walk

"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:

Elie Chain Walk warning sign

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!

Chain chain chaaaiiin

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…

Dr G

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.

Dr G is most triumphant

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:

37 thoughts on “Elie Chain Walk

  1. You are mental! I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it. My heart speeds up just looking at it.
    Well done!

  2. It gets the heart going Gillian but in a good way! I just kept reminding myself, “The Telegraph said it was good for kids! SUCK IT UP!”

    But defo only for dry, dry weather! πŸ™‚

  3. Wowweee. You and Dr G are brave people!!! How exciting, but yeah, my palms start to sweat at the very thought – which would be highly self-defeating if I were to be clinging onto the chain itself.

  4. That looks like so much fun. I’d love to do that. Nothing like being scared about falling into the ocean to keep your heart rate up, huh?

  5. Oh, man. You are braver than I – no way would I consider that after seeing those poor hapless stick figures! I am assuming you celebrated with fish and chips after.

    Well done you!

  6. DG you’re a hero, i’m such a coward i would never have done that myself! Way to go :)) Hope you didn’t rip your pants while sliding down the hill on them!

  7. I love the chain walk, I’ve done it twice and both times it was amazing and frightening! I also love the fact that if you walk along the top of the cliffs you can see remnants of old observation towers and gun stands from wwII.

  8. wow, you’re brave.

    I’m scared just thinking about it. I have no head for heights and I’m sure that I’d chuck a temper tantrum doing it.

    You definitely get a tough chick badge for doing that one!

  9. I definitely have to make a trip to Bonnie Scotland one of these days. The scenery is just amazing. Not sure if I could convince my husband to get up on those cliffs, though.

  10. ah, shauna, you are so brave!!
    it must be the australian in you……i say this because…..
    the last time i did anything remotely like that i was on the coast near denmark, WA, and we went walking along the coast – which is very rocky and full of boulders – with my australian friend who was very enthusiastic saying “come on! it will be fine, its not far to the next beach!!” so off we went….
    i was wearing flip flops and not enough sun screen in the middle of the day…..
    i got half way, and like you, found the decents much harder than going up, and spent much time on my hands and knees or bottom….after three lots of lip trembling episodes i burst into tears and cried like a baby for the rest of the way!!
    well done you!!

  11. Next time I come over I’m doing that walk. I’ve heard so much about it as well as Anstruthers! πŸ™‚

    I thought of you the other day. I said shoogle instead of shake. After 5 years, the Scottish husband is starting to influence my vocabulary πŸ™‚

  12. Wow! Most impressive! Too bad it so so far way from me in the states. Looks like scary and exciting all in one…I want to go!

  13. Wow! Why have I never heard of this before? I mean, wild horses would not drag my older son within 100 yards of that (I can hear his incredulous tones now: “You want me to do WHAT ????”) but it looks really cool.

  14. Well, I’m glad I didn’t know you were going to doing something so dangerous, imperilling yourself so that I might never have met you tonight. Much the same as my Dad, who was in bomb disposal during the war with never a thought that if he were blown up, I would never get to exist.

    It was lovely to have you here and I feel really honoured a) to have fed Dietgirl in my own house and b) to have been given some special Dietgirl brownies, which, though delicious, I assume have very few calories. That is right, isn’t it?

  15. You wouldn’t catch me out there for a million bucks! I bow down to your bravery and courage my dear. Good on ya!

  16. Yipes! When I read your description, I thought the chains were there to provide some kind of guard rail.

    Um… a question. What happens if you’re inching your way along… and it’s a dark and stormy afternoon, and you’re at a narrow part of the trail, clinging on for dear life… and you meet someone else coming the other direction?

  17. Awesome!!! My spousal unit and I will be visiting the British Isles in 2010 – I now have a new destination on my list. So cool!! I need to find something like that here in Canada.

  18. Wow, that would have been a lot of fun! However, I’m the type to carry on like a big sook the moment guardrails and ladders are involved.

  19. Must. Must. MUST DO. Must!
    Does Ryanair still have those 1 penny flights? Most importantly, do they have them on the AUS-UK route, which I know does not exist? πŸ˜‰

    Seriously though, sounds like a fantastic adventure. πŸ™‚ And to think that it took some rocks and some chains for me to de-lurk on your blog, lol! πŸ™‚

  20. This looks scary, exhilerating and impressive. I want to have the guts to do that, too. And the scenery looks breathtaking!

  21. Wow! That looks so cool. I’d love to have that little adventure myself. I’m certain my “fifth limb” would be of great use too. πŸ™‚ You are the queen of adventure. I’m impressed… and jealous!

  22. I’m not sure I’d do this Chain Walk.

    On one hand, I like the idea of exercising outdoors with beautiful scenery, and a little bit of a challenge doesn’t scare me.

    However, it is just too easy for me to imagine a slick rock and my foot slipping away from me, but I’m glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  23. thanks for the link to the photos – i wondered why they were some of the most popular on my site πŸ™‚
    Happy adventuring

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