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Grid reference: NO458287
Location: 56°26’48"N, 2°52’47"W
Population: 7,922
Post town: Tayport
Postcode: DD6
Dialling code: 01382
Local Government
Council: Fife
North East Fife

Tayport is a town on the coast of Fife, on the Firth of Tay, as its name suggests.

The motto of the Burgh of Tayport: Te oportet alte ferri - "It is incumbent on you to carry yourself high" - is actually a rather terrible pun on: Tayport at auld Tay Ferry.

Tayport lies close to the north east tip of Fife. To the north it looks across the River Tay to Broughty Ferry and Broughty Castle. To the east is the vast Tentsmuir Nature Reserve, an area of forested dunes measuring some 2 miles from east to west and 4 miles from north to south and edged by wide sands that continue all the way round to the mouth of the River Eden.


A ferry service across the Tay was already well established when these lands were granted to the newly formed Arbroath Abbey about 1180. The abbey constructed shelter and lodgings for pilgrims making the trip between St Andrews and Arbroath via the ferry and this formed the core of a settlement that steadily grew over the centuries.

At the time a chapel was built in the early 13th century, the settlement was called Partan Craig; Gaelic for "Crab Rock." Possibly more of an abbey than chapel. The site was excavated in the 1930s or earlier.

Over the following two hundred years English language usage wore down many Gaelic place names in Fife and its adjacent shire, and Partan Craig had become known as Portincragge by 1415 and as Port-in-Craige by the end of the 15th century. In 1598 the settlement received is burgh charter in the name of Ferry-Port on Craig.

Ferry-Port on Craig saw a dramatic increase in population at the end of the 18th century when tenants displaced by agricultural improvement and clearances, came to take advantage of jobs in the town's textile and shipbuilding industries. Leisure opportunities also increased. Golf came early to Ferry-Port on Craig, with a course laid out in 1817, despite the efforts of a local farmer, who twice ploughed up the course.

A road to Newport-on-Tay, three miles to the east, with its less weather-prone and better used ferry service to Dundee meant that Ferry-Port on Craig was intermittently without a ferry during the first half of the 19th century. By the 1840s a steam ferry service had resumed between the community and Broughty Ferry. This was acquired, in 1851, by the Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway which used the route for a railway ferry service from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. Instead of Ferry-Port on Craig, the railway company called the town 'Tayport' and the simpler name stuck.

The rail ferry ceased operation in 1878 with the opening of the Tay Rail Bridge, only to resume operations the following year when the bridge collapsed. With the opening of the replacement bridge in 1887 Tayport returned to a passenger-only ferry, which continued to run to from the town to Broughty Ferry until 1920.

The opening of the Tay Road Bridge in 1966 put Tayport within a few minutes' drive of the centre of Dundee, and it has since evolved into a pleasant dormitory town for that city. Some industry remains, but the harbour is now given over almost wholly to leisure craft, and attractive new housing has been built where once railway carriages were manoeuvred onto ferries.

About the town

Reminders of Tayport's earlier life and identity remain. In the centre of the town is Ferry-Port on Craig Church, established in 1607 and rebuilt in 1794 and again 1825, though Protestant worship now takes place in Tayport Parish Church, built in 1843 as Ferry-Port on Craig Free Church.

Local tourist amenities include local shops, a caravan park, tennis club, an 18-hole golf course (Scotscraig Golf Club) and large areas of parkland, namely the East and West Common.

The Bell Rock Tavern is an historic hostelry, serving the community and visitors since 1871. Named after the Bell Rock Light House, it serves traditional local fare including fresh mussels and fish and chips. The pub, with 2 bars on 2 levels, has a large terrace looking out on to the bustling harbour and the mouth of the Tay beyond.

The Harbour Café is a community enterprise and has magnificent views of the harbour. Profits from the Cafe will be used to fund community projects in Tayport. It is open 7 days a week in summer (not Sunday in the winter season).

The Canniepairt, Tayport is the home to both Tayport F.C. and to the well-known Tayport car boot sales. These sales, which are held every second Sunday from April to September, are popular with locals and visitors alike.

Bottlenosed dolphins are regular visitors to the Tay Estuary from March to September, and can be observed at very close quarters from Tayport harbour. Tayport harbour is also a good place for fishing although swimming is dangerous due to currents.

Tentsmuir Forest

Main article: Tentsmuir Forest

Tentsmuir is a popular, extensive pine forest planted on the sand dunes at the mouth of the River Tay; there is a wide variety of plants, wildlife and architectural heritage.

The area of 3,700 acres was acquired by the Forestry Commission in the 1920s and planted predominantly with Scots and Corsican pine. In addition to commercial forestry, careful management has created an interesting mixture of open spaces, ponds, trees, and sand dunes that are rich in wildlife including three species of roosting bat.

Several forest walks begin at the Kinshaldy car park and picnic site, and of special interest is the 19th-century ice house and pond built to keep locally-caught salmon fresh. The Kinshaldy beach area includes a former icehouse and Second World War fortifications. Extensive views over sand dunes to the North Sea and St Andrews. The beach area, known as Tentsmuir Sands, was included in the Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide 2003, which means that it is included in the list of Scotland's 32 cleanest beaches.

The area of Tentsmuir Point is designated a "National Nature Reserve" for the conservation of habitats and species of national and international significance.

This large area of sand dunes and beach at the mouth of the Tay Estuary forms an important roosting and feeding area for huge congregations of sea duck, waders and wildfowl, as well as a haul-out area for over 2,000 both common and grey seals. The reserve's grassland and dunes are especially favoured by a wide variety of colourful butterflies.

In prehistoric times, the district around Tayport was inhabited by Neolithic settlers, whose clay pottery and finely-wrought stone arrowheads have been found in considerable quantities on Tentsmuir, (once an area of heath and moorland, and now owned by the Forestry Commission). These settlers had not learned how to use metals and did not practise agriculture, but lived by hunting and fishing. The sites of some of the early settlements have been located by large collections of shells and, although nothing remains of their homes (probably primitive turf huts) one of their boats, a hollowed-out tree trunk, was found in a sandbank near Newburgh, further up the Tay, and is on display in Dundee Museum, which keeps a good collection of Neolithic artefacts.

Tentsmuir has also been the site of dozens of exiting Bronze Age finds; implements and ornaments made by farming folk of the Iron Age who moved into the district, have been discovered near the remains of iron-smelting sites.

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