Vast expanse of sand at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve
Vast expanse of sand at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

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Route No. 307 -
Thursday 13 August 2009
The Ice House, Shell walk - 6km
Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve
Fife, Scotland . . .

 

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base.
View the route in Google Earth

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 371 St. Andrews & East Fife at 1:25000


This week we are staying in a relative's holiday cottage in Cellardyke on the Fife coast in Scotland with our daughter and family and we provide the built-in baby sitting. Today we all went by car to the National Nature Reserve at Tentsmuir just north of St. Andrews on the mouth of the Firth of Tay.

Peacock butterfly on some ragwort by the path
Peacock butterfly on some ragwort by the path

Woodland path to the ice house
Woodland path to the ice house

Woodland path to the ice house
Woodland path to the ice house

Our four year old grand daughter was given the job of finding the next waymarker with its blue and silver shell motif and she led the way along the forest path from the car park. The path through the woodland was very pretty with the dappled sunlight through the trees. After about 3km the path came out onto a forest access track at the ice house.

We parked at the Kinshaldy car park in the Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve at map ref. NO498243. At the car park there is a children's playground, good information board and some toilets. From the information board we selected a waymarked walk of about six kilometres through the forest to an ice house and back along the beach and sand dunes.

Waymark post and guide
Waymark post and guide

Woodland path to the ice house
Woodland path to the ice house

Woodland path to the ice house
Woodland path to the ice house

Woodland path to the ice house
Woodland path to the ice house

Our picnic at the ice house
Our picnic at the ice house

Tentsmuir Point information board
Tentsmuir Point information board

It had been a very pleasant morning and we had seen no-one else in the woods on the way to the ice house. A party of school children arrived at the ice house as we were finishing our lunch. From the ice house we followed the way markers across the scrubland to the beach

This stone structure was built in the early 1800's to store ice collected during the winter and used to preserve salmon caught in the Firth of Tay. The salmon packed in ice was shipped south to England and to Europe. We stopped at a picnic table by the ice house for our lunch.

The ice house with soil & turf insulation on the roof
The ice house with soil & turf insulation on the roof

Leaving the ice house clearing
Leaving the ice house clearing

Heading across the scrubland to the beach
Heading across the scrubland to the beach

Our first view of the beach
Our first view of the beach

Just so much sand
Just so much sand

I took a photo hoping that it would enlarge enough to see the jumble of grey shapes. The children were not keen to walk. They preferred to play on the sand, but we had to keep going until we were close to the car park.

We reached the edge of the dunes and looked out across a huge expanse of sand. About 2km away across the sand there was a jumble of grey shapes. My binoculars revealed the grey shapes to be seals and a few rocks.

Looking along Tentsmuir Sands
Looking along Tentsmuir Sands


Grey shapes on the sand - some of them are seals, honest

Looking across the mouth of the Firth of Tay
Looking across the mouth of the Firth of Tay
Driftwood in the dunes
Driftwood in the dunes
The morning sunshine was replaced by threatening shower clouds
The morning sunshine was replaced by threatening shower clouds

Heading back along the dunes
Heading back along the dunes

Heading back along the dunes
Heading back along the dunes

The weather was too cold and showery now to stop on the beach and we joined the path along the dunes back to the car park.

The sunny weather we had this morning was quickly changing to dark shower clouds with a cold wind. We made our way along the beach with an occasional game of hide and seek in the dunes.

Heading back along the dunes
Heading back along the dunes

Heading back along the dunes
Heading back along the dunes

The dune area between the Tentsmuir forest and the beach
The dune area between the Tentsmuir forest and the beach

Crossing the dunes at the edge of the car park
Crossing the dunes at the edge of the car park

The walk had been about 6km and including our picnic and beach games it had taken us 3 hours to walk. We drove into St. Andrews for a coffee shop and ice creams for the children before returning to our holiday cottage in Cellardyke.

At the car park there was a sudden change in the children when they remembered to playground and with renewed vigour they set about the various climbing frames, slides and swings.

Children's playground at the car park
Children's playground at the car park