How Fife communities are bringing derelict coastal pools back to life

As temperatures soar and Fifers make the most of the summer, the sight of swimmers paddling in the Kingdom’s coastal pools has become a familiar one.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 2:54 pm
The Pittenweem pool - prior to restoration.

However, despite their increasing popularity, many of these pools have fallen into a state of disrepair in recent decades, lacking decent access and facilities.

But that has started to change over the last few years.

The West Braes Project in Pittenweem spent the best part of a decade creating the plans, securing the funding and working around the red tape to restore the pool.

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The pool in Cellardyke. Pic: Eugene Clarke.

It finally re-opened in May, with a larger grand opening planned for later this summer.

While the project has been popular with locals, it has also attracted folk from across Scotland – outdoor swimming groups have flocked to the restored pool to enjoy the coastal waters.

And the success of the project has had a knock-on impact on other communities in the East Neuk.

The Cellardyke Bathie Group, launched earlier this year, has similar plans to improve the outdoor pool in the village. While the extent to which the pool will be improved has yet to be determined – although a community survey found a lot of support for major works – cleaning out the pool and providing proper access is a priority.

Its members, at the early stages of the project, are in the process of working out what format the group should take and what work should happen.

"I think they (the West Braes Project) have been a fantastic example of what can be achieved,” said Cellardyke Bathie Group chairman Eugene Clarke.

"People are recognising the health benefits of going into the sea. A lot of people feel fantastic afterwards. You also don’t have to travel far to get there.”

The people of Cellardyke are not the only ones in the East Neuk hoping to restore their pool.

A similar proposal was mooted for St Monans last year, as part of a wider project to transform one of the nearby salt pan houses into a tourist attraction.

It could see the area turned into a “family space” for locals and tourists to enjoy.