Gavin Greig (ggreig) wrote,
Gavin Greig

St. Monans to Pittenweem

During the week, I also walked along this short stretch of the Fife Coastal Walk, the last part in the East Neuk that I hadn’t been along.

Being fairly short, there’s not a huge amount to report, but I had been looking forward to it because it’s this stretch that contains the St. Monans windmill and salt pans. I’d seen the windmill from a distance, but wasn’t sure what to expect of salt pans.

Looking towards the windmill from St. Monans - Pittenweem in the background

It seems it’s possible to inspect the interior of the windmill, but you have to either turn up between 12:00 and 16:00 in July or August, or borrow keys from the Post Office or Spar in St. Monans. I didn’t pass either of these on my way through St. Monans so perhaps there’ll have to be a return visit some day. The windmill isn’t operational, and has skeleton sails in place.

On getting closer, it turns out that the salt pans are immediately below the windmill. There’s not much to see. Most look like this:

Ruin of a panhouse at St. Monans salt pans

That’s the ruin of a panhouse, of which there were once nine. Out beyond it, you can just make out a couple of holding tanks cut into the rock of the shore. The salt water was pumped up from the holding tank, probably using wind power from the windmill, then distributed to the panhouses by pipes or a cart. There’s one ruin that’s uncovered, so you can get a better impression of what’s there, with aid of a helpful diagram (click through for larger version).

Uncovered ruin of a panhouseDiagram of a panhouse

From there a pleasant but fairly undistinguished walk took me past a shag drying its wings with the Bass Rock in the background…

Shag drying its wings with Bass Rock in background

… to Pittenweem.


I’ve been to Pittenweem before, so I didn’t revisit St. Fillan’s Cave…

St. Fillan's Cave, Pittenweem

…but I did make the obligatory visit to the The Cocoa Tree Café. The Cocoa Tree is a serious chocolate shop that also sells some other food, and if nothing else you should try their hot chocolate. You don’t even need to visit Pittenweem to do it; they have a stall at the monthly Farmers Markets in St. Andrews and Cupar where they serve Milk Hot Chocolate, White Hot Chocolate and their speciality, Caliente.

Caliente is their chilli hot chocolate, and it is to other hot chocolates as espresso is to other coffees. It’s thick and smooth and intense, and just hot enough, and yes, it’s served in espresso-size cups.

If you despair of visiting Pittenweem or the farmers markets in person to have Caliente prepared properly by the Cocoa Tree, you can order a sachet of four servings of Caliente powder online. There are instructions (which should be followed), and the recommended approach is to make up the whole batch at once, and keep unused servings in the fridge for reheating.

Clockwise from top: Cerise (whole cherry in Kirsch), Wasabi, Prickly Pear, Tequila & Chilli

Tags: food, history, natural history, photography, scotland, travel

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