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Sport in Fife and St Andrews

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

If you are looking for an active holiday, Fife is the perfect place to visit. Surrounded on three sides by water, its award-winning beaches are made for enjoyment and aside from sand castles, the golden sands surrounding the peninsula are great locations to walk, run, fly a kite or ride a horse.


The Home of Golf

Kayaking, canoeing and surfboarding are also popular pastimes. Fife is home to the governing body of water skiing in Scotland, Water Ski and Wakeboard Scotland, based at Town Loch in Dunfermline’s Townhill Country Park. Facilities there are outstanding and open to all levels of abilities with equipment provided. Coaching and driving staff are fully qualified and there are ‘come and try’ sessions. Inflatable fun ‘ringos’ for individuals or group bookings are suitable for children and adults. As the National Training Centre for the sport in Scotland, boat driving and instructor courses are available for anyone keen to gain qualifications in the sports.

For many visitors to Fife and in particular the acknowledged Home of Golf, St Andrews, their reason for being here is to follow that little white ball around in the steps of sporting icons like Palmer, Player, Nicklaus and Ballesteros. There are seven courses in St Andrews, the nine-hole Balgove is ideal for children and learners but challenging enough for the casual player. In addition to the Old Course itself, there are the New, Jubilee and Eden links courses to keep you on your toes. The sixth links course, Strathtyrum, is less demanding but a delight to play as the summer shadows start to lengthen.

St Andrews Links Trust, which administers those publicly-owned courses, also looks after the clifftop Castle Course overlooking the town, St Andrews also has three parkland courses, the Dukes, designed by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, and is owned by the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa. The Kittocks and Torrance courses at the town’s other resort hotel, Fairmont St Andrews, also enjoy spectacular scenery. In all, Fife has more than 40 courses, both links and parkland to choose from.

Cupar, some 10 miles inland from St Andrews, is said to be the oldest continuous nine-hole club in the world. ‘The Rockies’ the fifth hole on Anstruther’s nine-hole links, was voted the toughest par three in the UK. oldest in the world Clubs like Crail with its Tom Morris-designed Balcomie Links and newer Craighead course and Scotscraig at Tayport, are among the oldest in the world. Tom Morris also created Kirkcaldy Golf Club’s challenging parkland course at Balwearie. Kinghorn links along the coast was also laid out by the grand old man of golf.

For many visitors to Fife and in particular the acknowledged Home of Golf, St Andrews, their reason for being here is to follow that little white ball around in the steps of sporting icons like Palmer, Player, Nicklaus and Ballesteros

Fife Coastal Path

Neighbouring Burntisland was designed by Willie Park Jr in 1898 and later updated by James Braid. Dumbarnie Links is Scotland’s newest links gem and opened in May this year. The Clive Clark design is located just nine miles outside of St Andrews and lays across a sprawling 350-acre site with all 18 holes looking over the Firth of Forth. The amazing design offers a feeling that each hole is secluded and private.

For walkers, Fife is blessed with waymarked paths, trails and the ultimate challenge, Fife Coastal Path. The 117-mile route stretches from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay. It offers a range of walking and you can obtain a map from the Harbourmaster’s House at Dysart Harbour near Kirkcaldy. The Kingdom’s many parks have some delightful features. Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy has a poetry stone circle, fountain garden and bog garden in addition to a range of facilities including play areas, putting, crazy golf, skateboarding and a boating pond.

Walkers get your boots on and head for the Fife Coastal Path

Walkers get your boots on and head for the Fife Coastal Path

Options for runners are many and varied in the Kingdom. St Andrews Parkrun is a 5km run through the beautiful Craigtoun Country Park on the outskirts of the town open to everyone and held every Saturday at 9.30am. Fife has more than 300 miles of cycle routes along paths, forest tracks, quiet country lanes, disused railway tracks and commuter routes between towns and villages. The 109-mile Kingdom Route is for keen cyclists but there are several other routes suitable for adults and children.

For walkers, Fife is blessed with waymarked paths and the ultimate challenge, Fife Coastal Path. The 117-mile route stretches from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay

Rolling farmland

Check the Kingdom of Fife Cycleways website for more details. If you fancy exploring the area on horseback, Barbarafield Riding School at Craigrothie near Cupar is one of the oldest riding schools in Scotland, offering hacking and lessons over 300 acres of rolling farmland. Further east the Equestrian Centre at Kilconquhar Castle 15 minutes from St Andrews, offers a variety of rides around the surrounding countryside. The centre is British Horse Society and Trekking & Riding Society of Scotland-approved, and is also an RDA centre providing riding for adults and children with disabilities throughout the year. Balcurvie Riding School in Windygates offers hacks and lessons for all ages and abilities. Lochore Meadows has an indoor school or you can hack off-road, through 1,200 acres in the country park.

For indoor activities, you’ll find Fife has leisure centres in all the main towns. Fife Sports and Leisure Trust operates 13 facilities across Fife with a range of swimming pools, well-equipped gyms laid out with the latest equipment, sports halls and courts, aerobics studios, health suites and indoor and outdoor pitches. There are also private health clubs and gyms throughout the area. Getting fit can be painless.

Why not explore the region on horseback?

Why not explore the region on horseback?

In St Andrews the Old Course Hotel spa has a 20-metre pool, thermal suite and fitness suite and any number of treatments to revive you. Fairmont St Andrews health club and spa has top of the range cardiovascular equipment and weight machines and a 16-metre pool, sauna and steam room all under the eye of dedicated instructors. Both hotel spas are open to the public but booking is advisable.

For something completely different, get your skates on at Fife Ice Arena, the home venue of the oldest ice hockey team in the UK, Fife Flyers. The Kirkcaldy attraction offers public skating, lessons, ice hockey and – in season – curling. Fife may not be home to any Munros (hills more than 3,000ft), but should you feel the urge to be vertically challenged, head for Rockface Climbing Wall in the Carnegie Leisure Centre in Dunfermline to try out your traverse and build on your bouldering. All ages and abilities are catered for, with rock boots and helmets available. The vertical walls have large holds and there’s a soft mat to land on.

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Image credits: ©Courtney Prather/Unsplash; Fife Coast and Countryside Trust; skumer/stock.adobe.com; St Andrews Links; VisitScotland/Fife Council/Damian Shields

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