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Famous Scottish Crystal Hunting Locations: Elie “Ruby” Bay, Fife.

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Next in our blog series covering the famous Scottish crystal hunting locations, we have Elie Woodhaven, AKA Ruby Bay.

Let's preface this article by saying that Elie ruby bay and shell bay are both SSSIs, meaning it is illegal to pick there. We do not condone anyone breaking the law. This article is for information purposes and celebrates a true Scottish gem town. We supply an SSSI map later in the article so you can check the boundaries for yourself. Note also that we don't stock Elie Rubies.

Elie Woodhaven beach is known as Ruby Bay and comes second on our list of favourite rockhounding sites in Scotland right behind Burn Anne. Stretching along the coastline and incorporating part of the Fife Coastal Route, the beach lies just to the east of the town of Elie, although the heart of the bay lies within it. The beach only gets 3 out of 5 stars in the UK Beach Guide, but we think that’s a bit unfair.

Anyway, there is far more to this seemingly silent beach than just sandy seaweed and exposed rock. In fact, you can find vibrant red stones all around this area, emerging from the rocks themselves. Let’s find out everything we know about a day trip to Elie and the Ruby Bay. We should preface this article by saying this is not an area we have explored in any depth, so you may wish to do extra research on your own before you get there. It is an SSSI so check the map before you head out.

A Day Out in Elie

Elie Bay has two notable beaches; one is Woodhaven and the other is the shell beach. You will find Woodhaven to the east of the town while Shell bay lies near the dunes, beside the caravan park. During summer days the area around the town is packed with tourists. It can be particularly packed with caravans and holidaymakers, too. Our advice is always to go on a weekday in the summer to avoid the crush.

You can eat and the wonderfully named Elie Deli, which again has a big queue on busy days. Stroll along Elie beach in front of the promenade or stay in the area on a golfing trip. While you are touring along the coast, take a trip to Lady’s Tower, just outside town. Let’s not miss out the ice cream, either. Make sure you visit Carol’s shop for frozen delights. There's also the quaint little lighthouse in the photo to visit along the Fife Coastal Path.

Rock Hunting in Elie, Fife.

Of course you heard about the Elie Rubies and your little ears pricked up. That’s the sign of a budding rockhound. Careful, it’s infectious.

The thing about Elie Rubies is that they are not actually rubies at all but pyrope garnets. Pyropes from Elie are usually a black to dark red colour and obtain their colouring from an off-coast source of ___. Legend has it that it you lay down on the beach on a sunny day and look out over the view, you can see the garnets twinkling in the sun’s light. It’s also a dog-friendly beach, so you can take your sidekick with you on any hunts. You can also find magnetite and pyroxene crystals here, equally as small as the pyropes.

To hunt for Elie rubies you will need to be willing to get a little dirty. The best way to find them is through sifting through small grits you find on the rocks and in the muds. You are looking for small, dark red, glassy-looking gems. They can be many different shapes but they are not usually bigger in size than a small piece of fish tank gravel. To collect a whole jar of these would take you hours. The slow collection of these tiny treasures is as painful as it is worthwhile.

Do you need permission for Collecting Rubies in Elie?

Remember, to keep collecting ethical you should not remove material from the coastline if it is going to contribute to erosion. UK coastlines are protected to prevent loss of land to the ocean. Nevertheless, the crystals here come out of the rocks, out of the sea, and out of the fields and rivers which wash down into it. As usual we refer you to the Scottish geological sample collection code, which keeps you right on any issues. We could not find a particular landowner for this area other than Elie and Earlsferry local council.

Elie Bay is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so although you can go there and see the rubies, you should not remove material from inside the boundaries of the SSSI. This area is also a fossil hunting area, but since it is an SSSI you may not hammer bedrock. You can look at the SSSI map here to keep yourself correct.

What Equipment Should You Take Hunting Elie Pyrope Crystals?

As usual we would recommend a gold pan. The dark red of these gems means a green pan would show the colours better. You can buy one for less than seven quid on Amazon. A classifier is another good tool. Followers from social media may have seen us use a classifier to catch material when we empty the rock tumbler. Our green rock sieve can sift through material down to a half inch in size. For these pyropes at Elie Bay, you will want a finer sieve, preferably one with mesh. We would also like one of these, so if you fancy donating to the cause we are all ears. This classifier looks good and comes from a small business.

You will also want something to put them in. A small gem pod or tiny bottle will work. And bring tweezers. It’s a whole other kind of rockhounding to what we are used to…

Where to Buy Scottish Gemstones?

Although we don’t have any Elie Pyropes in store, we are in the process of working out a source that lives closer to the town than we do. You can keep checking in with the Stone Circle Shop to see if things change. They are specific to this area and hard to find in non SSSI areas, so give us time to look into it.

You can buy Scottish agates, Quartz, amethyst, fossils, jasper, and more through our website. You can even join us on Etsy for a greater choice.


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