|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Kirkton of Largo (NO425034)|
|To:||St Andrews (NO503169)|
|Distance:||24.3 miles (39.1 km)|
|Meets:||A915, A918, A91, A915|
|Former Number(s):||A921, A918|
|Route outline (key)|
The A917 is by no means the most direct route from Largo to St Andrews, however, it is certainly the most scenic as it winds along the coast through the historic and picturesque fishing village of the famous East Neuk.
Largo - Crail
The road starts off at a TOTSO on the A915 in Kirkton of Largo and heads east, winding between fields with glimpses of the Firth of Forth to the south. After a couple of miles, it turns right at another TOTSO where the more direct B942 heads through Colinsburgh to Pittenweem. This first section of A917 and the B942 were the A921 between the 1940s and 1980s although for some reason the main road is now back along the coast. Heading south east now, the road skirts past Kilconquhar Loch (pronounced by the locals as Kinnucher), where the B941 heads east into the village, and slowly turns to the south to reach Elie. Elie, and neighbouring Earlsferry to the west, is the first of the pretty villages of the East Neuk reached, and well worth a pause to explore. With the sea just visible through the houses ahead, the road turns sharply left in front of the church and starts to follow the coast eastwards.
Although never a true coastal road, the A917 is never much more than a single field away from the shore as it works its way east to St Monans. The village lies entirely between the road and the sea, with its spectacularly sited church at the east end of the village a landmark from both road and sea. The B942 is met again a mile or so further on, just before the road enters Pittenweem. The roadside is lined by an eclectic mix of older houses and twentieth century council housing, but it is only a short detour down the B943 to the beautiful and bustling harbour. Pittenweem and Anstruther, home of the Scottish Fisheries museums, are separated by a couple of fields and the coastal golf course, so it is only a short drive between them.
Anstruther is the first real taste of the East Neuk villages from the A917 itself. The road squeezes down as it heads into the village, before a sharp left turn from Pittenweem Road onto Elizabeth Place in front of the Town Hall. Opposite is one of several houses decorated with shells. The road then crosses the Dreel Burn on an old bridge before sweeping back round to the right on High Street. This quickly leads to a mini roundabout with the B9131 (former A959, originally B944) which is the inland and more direct route to St Andrews from here. The other arm of the B9131 heads down into the harbour, perhaps the busiest in the East Neuk as it also serves as the villages main shopping street.
The A917, meanwhile, passes through the North of Anstruther following Crail Road out to the small village of Kilrenny, before running north east along the hillside to Crail. Crail is perhaps the point where the A917 is closest to the shore, as for a brief moment it runs along the top of an embankment above the harbour. It then continues along the wide High Street, lined with parked cars and flanked by the characteristic architecture of the East Neuk with another eclectic mix of buildings. At the end of the High Street, just as it narrows, the A917 turns sharp left at a mini roundabout onto St Andrews Road, the road ahead being a fine detour out to Fife Ness. The route is now heading North west, meeting a sharp fork with the B940 just outside the village.
Crail - St Andrews
The last ten miles of the A917 are perhaps less touristy than the road through the villages of the East Neuk, but it is still busy with traffic headed for St Andrews. There are also numerous (and often rather exclusive) Golf Courses along the coast here. The next section, to Kingsbarns cuts across farmland, running a lot further inland than anywhere else as it bypasses Fife Ness. In Kingsbarns, the road is wide and straight, with a spacious square to the right in front of the church. A side road leads down to the large beach car park, but the village itself is small, and quickly passed. The sea is now once more in view across the fields, as the road winds north westwards, steadily turning further inland to cross the Kenly Water on Kenly Bridge. The bridge lies between two sharp bends, and in the middle of a twisty section of the route
A short straight between two right angle bends leads to Boarhills, but the small village lies down a side road. The A917 now climbs gently up the hillside, still offering glimpses of the sea, but the land between is largely given over to vast golf courses. The B9131 is met again at Brownhills, and then the road dips down past a holiday park to enter St Andrews. After navigating two mini roundabout, the route runs along St Mary Street, Abbey Walk and Abbey Street to reach a mini-roundabout on the A918 South Street. Here, it turns right to run along the eastern end of South Street before doubling back past the cathedral to turn onto North Street. It then ends at the Links Roundabout where it meets the A91 and A915.
In 1922, the A917 ran between the A915 in Kirkton of Largo and the A918 in Crail, the two routes seemingly meeting at the mini roundabout at the east end of the High Street. After World War II the A921 was created to connect these two places more directly and so the A917 lost its westernmost few miles, and started at the TOTSO where it now meets the B942. However, the A921 was downgraded before 1983 and so the A917 regained this western section. At a similar time, the A917 was extended north from Crail to St Andrews along almost all of the A918, leaving that number with only a short section of road in St Andrews.
There have also been a few minor realignments along the route over the years. Most are simple improvements to corners and junctions, such as the junction with the B942 at Kilconquhar. However, the MOT map from 1922 suggests that the A917 took a slightly different route through Pittenweem, following Routine Row and Marygate, although the scale of the map makes it difficult to identify the western section, and all subsequent mapping shows the current route.