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Favourite Corner of Scotland
A regular feature in the local newspaper invites people to write about their favourite corner of Scotland. It is where I turn to first and was encouraged to write about my own. The area of Fife is mostly coastal, hence its appeal to me. Remember visiting frequently throughout my childhood. A lot of history, cathedrals, and castles, independent shops, lovely beaches and quaint little fishing villages such as Anstruther and Crail. So much variety and a very fresh place with the combination of sea air and sweeping agricultural landscapes.
Falklands, in central Fife, is a small historical village, where you can look around an old ruined palace and is well worth a visit. A lovely little place and make sure to look out for Kind Kyttock's Kitchen. Kyttock's is a traditional wee tearoom, with delicious home baking- especially the scones and has a really homely feel about it. There is also St Andrews the home of golf, pretty expensive but very charming. St Andrews, West Sands Beach is where they filmed Chariots of Fire.
St Andrews is a stunningly beautiful place. Old ruins of the castle can be looked around. It sits perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. You can even go down into the dungeons. I got up and close and personal with these falling over on a school trip- it wasn't pretty. In ruin, The Chapel of St Mary’s is well worth seeing. There are so many old buildings and the cobbled streets add to the character and charm. Some of the oldest buildings in the town belong to the prestigious University- Scotland’s best and where Prince William and Kate studied. Considering the Universities age, the buildings are very well preserved and still used by today's students. An especially stunning building has a courtyard in the centre- it is the hall where the students graduate and where some take their exams. It’s a very impressive place if you're into your architecture. Probably most famous of all is the golf course, totally exclusive and bloody expensive to have a round- but the Golf museum is worth a look. If like me you possess no skill at golf and cannot afford it there is a good adventure putting course just next to the main golf course (The Himalaya's, it is very hilly).
There are plenty of nice shops, bakeries, restaurants and cafes in the town. Not too much of a touristy place so there aren’t the usual huge selection of junky shops selling tartan teddies and woolly jumpers. Fisher and Donaldson is a family run bakery that has been around since my Great Granny was alive, opening its doors in 1919. it was originally based in Dundee but the bakeries have spread over the Tay into Fife. The St Andrews one has been there since my Mum was five, she remembers frequent trips over the water forJaps (almond and buttercream macaroon round/tower type cake) and Fudge Doughnuts. Dead old fashioned with beautiful sponges, cream cakes, pastries and they make their own chocolates/confectionery. Please see above a video of the bakery, courtesy of Michael Murray, who was so kind to allow me to share).
St Andrews is 'upmarket' Scotland and it isn’t until you go round the wee fishing villages that line the coast that you get the feeling you're in Scotland or at least what I think Scotland’s like. The people of Fife are probably the most friendly aside from the Glaswegians. As a country, the people are generally good (in my biased opinion!). Fifers’ have their own way of speaking and funny phrases that you won’t hear anywhere else- there are a lot of similarities to Dundonian. My Mum's side of the family all come from Dundee and when my Gran’s sisters get together you can have a hard job understanding what they are saying!
Villages like Crail, Pittenweem and Anstruther are centred around their harbours. Even though the fishing industry is on its knees in this country they are almost always a hub of activity. In Anstruther, you can buy crab and lobster as it comes in off the boats, they even have a wee hut where they prepare/dress the crab which also sells pickled cockles and whelks. Next door's a smokery where they smoke mainly kippers, mackerel and haddock- it’s a great smell and can be smelt for miles. Smokies, as they are called are quite a traditional thing particularly those from Arbroath on the East Coast. The fish is hot smoked with wood chippings derived from old whisky barrels. In Anstruther, there is Scotland’s best fish and chip shop- it's award winning and no matter the time or weather it is always busy. On a mild or sunny day, it is nice to sit and eat at the harbour- looking out across the sea. Radio DJ Edith Bowman hails from Anstruther and in a television programme spoke about the chippy, which firmly has her seal of approval!
Further along the coast, there are other villages just as quaint. Elie has a links golf course, another golf course, historical attractions and a great beach which forms a distinctive golden curve. It is such a quiet beach, much like many in the area and quite often have been the only one there. The Lady's Tower is a prominent feature of the landscape, this dates back to the 17th century. In many of these coastal places, there are boat trips. The most popular taking people out to the Isle of May to see the puffins and thousands of other seabirds that nest on the cliffs. It's not at all built up Fife and you drive through a lot of agricultural land, the soils good there and it looks like the fields go on forever. Really love driving through Fife especially when the oilseed rape is flowering- a never ending carpet of vivid yellow flowers. A beautiful sight, as are the fields of potato when they flower- the flowers have a blueish hue to them. There are lots of good walks in the area in woodland and various coastal trails. There are also the Lomond Hills, which on a clear day will give you views stretching to Edinburgh.
I hope that this has given a bit of a taster into an area of Scotland that is rarely really mentioned and as a place probably underrated. It is so is easy to get to but it is only St Andrews that see's a-lot of tourists. Living very much inland all my life I love to be by the sea and in Fife, there is that in abundance- some of the best beaches in Scotland are there. Where I live now is closer to Fife than I was before so I shall probably be spending a good bit of time there- hopefully anyway.