Burntisland

Burntisland is a scenic town on the banks of the Firth of Forth, just half an hour from Edinburgh. It has plenty to offer, much of it free.

The beach is small but perfectly formed and covered in lovely shells. Check the tide times, but when it’s out it’s really out. You can walk across the sand flats to Pettycur (the beach under the holiday park) and then on to stunning Kinghorn, where there is always a queue outside the chip shop. See the gallery page for pics of these wonderful places.

Lion’s Mane jellyfish

Look out for the big brassy coloured jellyfish the size of dinner plates washed up on the sand – these are Lion’s Mane jellies and can give a nasty sting. You can also expect to find moon jellyfish, purple stingers, loads of crabs, and even the odd ‘brittle star’ starfish!

Burntisland’s high street is a treasure trove of lovely independent shops. There’s a celebrated fishmonger, a couple of butchers and artisan bakeries, and dog-friendly coffee shop The Fix right at the beach end, currently serving over a hatch in the door. The chippy facing the Links (the grassy hilly bit) does great seafood, and the burger shack is supplied by the local butchers. A Novelli’s ice cream is essential while you’re here. And for anything else, there’s the Co-op!

The playground at the far end of the Links has a zip-line and climbing frames should kids tire of the beach.

Burntisland ‘links’, common ground next to the beach.

Consider climbing up the Binn – the big volcanic outcrop that forms the picturesque backdrop to the town. It’s only very slightly strenuous and not very far to the top at all. You can access the footpath from various places. You’ll pass the remains of the historic hill village on the way up, and there’s a plaque at the summit pointing out interesting distant landmarks. You can see North Berwick to the East, a number of the islands, and of course Edinburgh directly across the water.

Burntisland below, and North Berwick in the distance, from the top of the Binn.

If you stand on the corner outside the holiday apartment building and look back up past the railway bridge you’ll see a big white castle building on the hill. Mary Queen of Scots famously stayed here – the locals will happily tell you about how she escaped through a secret tunnel. There’s also a ruined church from the 11th Century and a very rare Reformation church in Burntisland, both well worth a look (links at the end).

Head out of the front door and turn left along the dock. You’ll reach the beach after about 10 minutes – but don’t miss the little cliff peninsular between the pallet yard and this end of the beach. This area is known as the Lammerlaws. There’s a lime kiln ruin, and great views from the top. It’s a popular whale-watching spot, so head up on a clear day.