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experiences

Cycling tour of North Fife

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Experienced cyclist James Bonner takes us on a 75km cycle round the North of Fife following the River Tay and venturing inland too.
Tay Bridge to Newburgh

Tay Bridge to Newburgh

This route, which I pedalled solo, took me along the River Tay - the water that forms the northern boundary of Fife. Starting from the Tay Bridge I cycled through the villages of Newport-on-Tay, Wormit, and some other small hamlets. This is Sustrans National Cycle Network (NCN) route 777 - and it is generally pretty quiet and well signposted.

I turn past close to Balmerino Abbey, from where there is a short hill to climb. Soon a downhill section brings me to some beautiful vistas of the River Tay - and the road takes you on a flowing, undulating ride overlooking the water. This road is a good surface, and with light traffic- but it is also an access route for working farms, so be aware of potholes and loose gravel. Don’t let the view distract you too much! Onwards to the village of Newburgh, which has several pubs, cafes and restaurants for eating, and a few small shops. This is a great turnaround spot if you are happy having come this far.

Newburgh to Auchtermuchty

Newburgh to Auchtermuchty

I cycle through the village and climb the (steep) marked cycle route to Auchtermuchty, which is another 10km away. This is quite a steep incline, and best tackled by cyclists who are happy to do some hill climbing (or you have plenty gears) - be careful at the sharp and narrow bend taking you over the railway bridge. The climb continues to a marked sign on the cycle route (the surface is a bit gravelly here) pointing towards Auchtermuchty, and through some beautiful countryside. Joining the B936, the route continues downhill for a few kilometres to the historic town of Auchtermuchty, with lots of wynds and narrow streets to explore. There are also a few places to stop, rest and eat.

Auchtermuchty to the Tay Bridge

Auchtermuchty to the Tay Bridge

Here I turn back towards Newburgh, over the hills, and the late sun shining on the Tay is quite beautiful. I retrace my steps (or pedals) through Newburgh and along the water to the east again. I find these rolling hills really enjoyable to cycle, but when waving to two people coming towards me travelling on electric bikes, I take note of how tirelessly and stylishly they are gliding along. This route is quite unexpectedly hilly, and hiring an electric bike would be a great option making the steeper sections more manageable for many.

I continue along the coast back to Newport-on-Tay - I can feel the little bit of wind behind me going this way. It is a reminder of the quite significant impact the wind’s direction and strength can have on your cycling. A headwind will really reduce your speed, while a tailwind is just a joyful thing - like an invisible hand pushing you along! This can be important for planning cycles, and the time and energy you might need to ‘budget’ for. If I am doing a cycle like this, where I double back on myself on the same route, I like to cycle into the wind on the way out, and then have it behind on the way back. As I pedal along the water the Tay bridge comes into view, and the sun begins to set. A fitting end to a beautiful and memorable watery cycle!

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