The "Kingdom of Fife" is easily the most physically distinct part of mainland Scotland. It is bounded by the Firth of Tay to the north and the Firth of Forth to the south, and most people who visit do so by crossing a major bridge over one or other of those bodies of water. As a result it often feels more like a large island than a peninsula. The feeling of physical separation is reflected in a sense of cultural separation. The term "Kingdom" comes from the occupation of the area by the Pictish Kingdom of Fib, and that distinct identity has carried through into the modern era.
There are many ways to get to know Fife, and one of the very best is by walking the Fife Coastal Path. When originally established in 2003, this ran for 82 miles from the Forth Bridges at North Queensferry to the Tay Bridge at Newport on Tay. In 2011/12 the official route was extended at both ends, by a total of 35 miles, to allow it to follow the entire coast of Fife rather than just part of it. As the authors of this guide have commented, that brought with it a raft of issues to do with accommodation and transport for unsupported walkers.
"Fife Coastal Path" by Sandra Bardwell and Jacquetta Megarry brings the tried, tested and deservedly successful Rucksack Readers approach to walking guides to this most distinct of long distance footpaths. For those new to the format (where have you been in recent years?) this means a combination of bright and attractive presentation, clear and detailed route instructions, excellent maps at a scale of 1:40,000, extensive background information, and fine photography. Print all this on waterproof paper (this is Scotland, remember, it does sometimes rain) and wrap it up in a spiral-bound package, and you have the ideal companion to any walk along the path, whether you are tackling the whole walk, or just a part of it. The thing that will be unexpected to those familiar with the format is that the book is spiral bound along its long edge rather than its short edge, simply to better allow the route to be mapped.
Two thirds of the book is made up of detailed sections covering the Fife Coastal Path in nine daily stages. The first third covers all those topics you need to bear in mind, from accommodation to waymarking, public transport and the outdoor access code: plus a section on tide awareness, essential for a coastal walk that takes in a number of beaches en route. It also includes a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of the original version of the route and the newer extended version, and the detailed route instructions cover the full walk. The book should be considered essential reading for anyone planning to walk the path. It is also a fascinating guide for anyone simply thinking of visiting Fife's wonderful coastline in any other way.