Just north of Edinburgh the East Neuk of Fife is renowned for its splendid golf courses and for the town of St Andrews which is home to one of the oldest golf courses in the world and of course the R&A, the ruling authority on golf for most of the world, is also to be found here. But did you know that this corner (for that is what ‘neuk’ means) of the Ancient Kingdom of Fife on Scotland’s east coast also makes an excellent travel choice for those not interested in the game of golf?
Renowned throughout Scotland as an area of picturesque coastal fishing villages the east neuk has a long heritage of living off the sea and a string of former fishing villages, many with quaint, historically important harbours and centuries-old buildings, are dotted along the coast and a small but active fishing industry supplying fresh seafood to local restaurants and pubs still thrives to this day.
A leisurely drive north along the A917 coast road will take you through a succession of increasingly attractive villages: Earlsferry, Elie, St Monans, Pittenweem (renowned for its shellfish catch), Anstruther and Cellardyke until you come to what many people believe is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the east neuk fishing villages – Crail with its impressive Castle Walk along the clifftops and down narrow, cobbled streets to its small but still-busy harbour stacked with lobster creels and coils of rope.
If you are sufficiently impressed with the east neuk to stay a while (and I think you will be) then all of these villages welcome tourists with a good variety of types of accommodation from small bed and breakfast establishments and guest houses to fair-sized hotels many of which have breathtaking views of the coastline. If you wish to be completely self-sufficient there are many self-catering choices in the area.
Just passing through and fancy a bite to eat? There are lots of excellent eating places from restaurants providing a full menu to small, ‘’light-bite’’ establishments serving traditional home-cooked fare and down at the harbour in Anstruther you will find a fish and chip shop which has previously been voted ‘’Scotland’s Best Fish and Chip Shop’’ – although I know of others in the area who would dispute that!
For culture-vultures the East Neuk Festival, an annual festival of music and art, takes place over a period of ten days in June/July. It doesn’t have just one venue but is spread throughout the area in a variety of locations from churches to farmers’ barns, gardens and even caves! If you wish to time your stay to coincide with the festival then booking your accommodation well in advance is advised.
Ok, since you are in this area you can’t really ignore the town of St Andrews! With its university (the oldest in Scotland), its ruined cathedral and its many historic buildings it really can’t be missed out and a walk down ”The Scores” rewards you with breathtaking views of the sandy coast, the golf course, the R&A clubhouse and the golf museum – worth visiting even if you aren’t interested in golf.
The east neuk of Fife is also well-placed to explore further afield. Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, is just an hour’s driving time to the south and the cities of Dundee and Perth a similar distance to the north and west and if you’re worried about the weather don’t be! The east neuk of Fife is one of the driest parts of Scotland and with an average of 1500 hours of sunshine a year bad weather shouldn’t spoil your stay. Mind you, this is Scotland so bring an umbrella just in case!
A Scotsman born and bred I love to roam Scotland’s hills and wild places taking photographs and writing about my travels around the country and all things to do with my homeland.