ARE you looking for a summer weekend away without travelling abroad?
Fife’s far corner is a picture-perfect Scottish break – all golden sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages, says writer Helen Ochyra.
Enjoy golden sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages in ScotlandCredit: Getty Images
Explore the sands
You’re never far from a sandy beach in the East Neuk, especially around Elie village, where the south-facing golden strand of Elie Earlsferry Beach links up with Elie Harbour Beach and offers super-sheltered, shallow waters, ideal for tiny paddlers.
Further east, unspoilt Kingsbarns Beach (AKA Cambo Sands) stretches for two miles between the dunes and the North Sea, while West Sands in St Andrews is seemingly endless. Try surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and land yachting here, from £39 for two hours (Blownaway.co.uk).
Try surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and land yachtingCredit: Instagram/Blown Away
Follow the coast
The Fife Coastal Path runs along the Firth of Forth. For a two-hour stroll, start in St Monans and wander east, passing a windmill and ancient salt pans to reach the picturesque harbour of Pittenweem and the Neuk’s largest village of Anstruther beyond.
More remote is the three-hour Crail to Kingsbarns section, which heads down on to the sands. Fancy more of an adventure? The Elie Chain Walk is an hour’s scramble along the cliffs, following eight horizontal and vertical chains attached to the rock – bring your hiking boots and a head for heights!
Start The Fife Coastal Path in St Monans and wander eastCredit: Alamy
Feast on fish
Come hungry – the waters are packed with some of Europe’s best seafood. Call in to Reilly Shellfish in Crail’s harbour and pick your own lobster, £25/kg (Facebook.com/reillyshellfish). Or grab a table at Dory Bistro in Pittenweem for hearty fish pie or tasty bouillabaisse, £11 (Thedory.co.uk). Best place for fish and chips? Anstruther Fish Bar.
The windows look out over fishing boats and there’s fresh battered haddock, as well as Pittenweem prawns and salmon from East Pier Smokehouse in St Monans, from £7.95 (Anstrutherfishbar.co.uk).
Be shellfish with your lunch at Reilly Shellfish in Crail’s HarbourCredit: Reilly Shellfish
Meet the brewers
Take a seat in Futtle organic brewery’s sheltered courtyard near St Monans to try its natural wine, spiced rum or organic beer fresh from the tap. There’s also (non-alcoholic) kombucha made from foraged local plants and seaweed (Futtle.com).
Closer to Anstruther, Ovenstone 109 brews a range of ales, from the golden Terra Nova to the blonde Fifie, and offers free, low-key tours (Ovenstone 109.com), while Kingsbarns distillery gives tastings of the local single malt whisky (Kingsbarnsdistillery.com).
The East Neuk is an artsy corner of the country, and Pittenweem village is home to Funky Scottish, where artist Karen Edwards sells her vibrant prints on everything from cushions to beach towels (Facebook.com/funkyscottish).
Plus, there’s foodies’ favourite Seaweed N Stuff, selling relishes and chutneys made with the sea’s greens as well as hand-painted furniture by Rosie Mays (Seaweednstuff.co.uk). Elsewhere, don’t miss Crail Pottery for gorgeous ceramics made by the Grieve family (Crailpottery.com).
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Rest your head
Just a stone’s skim from Crail’s cute harbour and tucked away off the High Street, Sandpipers cottage is in the perfect spot for exploring the coast.
Expect a contemporary kitchen, large bath and French doors leading out on to a patio – ideal for morning coffee or sundowners.
There are two spacious bedrooms – one double and one family room sleeping three. A three-night stay costs from £304 (Sykescottages.co.uk).
“Neuk” is the old Scots word for “corner or nook” – and Fife is the only place in the world to use this name.
During the heyday of Scottish fishing, you could walk from boat to boat across Anstruther harbour without getting your feet wet!
Plan your trip at Visitscotland.com.
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