Fife, was our first stop in Scotland.
Having flown out of Ottawa at around dinner time and landed in Edinburgh around 8 am (after a 6 hours flight), we had to stay awake for another day without the benefit of sleep if we wanted to have any hope of not being utterly jetlagged. We took possession of our rental car and were very grateful that the drive was only an hour long… Driving on the other side of the road with the little sleep we had was nightmarish enough as it was – and admittedly not my best idea.
So, how do you stay awake with minimal brain power? Well, you set out on the famed coastal walk in Fife (sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of Fife from a time when the area was a pictish kingdom), which stretches for 117 miles along the Scottish East Coast. Our initial plan was to leave from Crail and make our way to Elie before taking a bus back. I have heard this portion of the walk referred to as the Scottish Cinque Terre. I’m not too sure about that, as the walk has its very own cachet, but no matter the name, the walk was definitely worthwhile.
Staying in Anstruther changed our plans slightly. We ended up leaving from Anstruther and walking down through Pittenweem, St Monan’s and Elie, before walking back to Anstruther. We managed to enjoy quite a bit of the coastal view and I could easily imagine walking the whole journey. The views were amazing, rugged and peaceful all at once. The amazing landscapes, beat up ruins and adorable cows surely warrant mention.
This first day’s walk served its purpose. We remained awake the whole time and dropped asleep soon enough after having enjoyed our first glass of scotch, a Bowmore 12, graciously offered by our host, Jill.
In Anstruther, we enjoyed some delicious fish and chips with ice cream at the Fish Bar by the bay and excellent pub fares, even if on the expensive side, at the Dreel Tavern (which was recommended by our gracious and very accommodating host – who rescued us from a planning misstep that left us with a booking for the wrong dates).
St. Andrews, the home of golf and of the William and Kate romance, is a neat place for shopping. There I found a nicely stocked whisky shop and a cozy bookshop. At the bookstore, I picked up a copy of And The Land Lay Still, by James Robertson, amongst a couple of books that were recommended to me by the staff. I got to take a good look at them while sipping a good cup of coffee, before making my pick.
Once we were done leisurely walking the streets of St. Andrews, we made our way to the Kingsbarn a new Scotch Distillery – a coenterprise of Douglas Clement (an ex golf caddie at Kingsbarn golf link) and the Wemyss family, an old Scottish noble family. The distillery is so new that we couldn’t taste its own spirit. Nonetheless, the tour – our first – was really instructive. Of interest, Kingsbarn sells new spirit which, as we would later learn, is a rather rare find.
The installations were quite new and the display was very educational. My favorite part were the horns which isolated different smells of scotch (vanilla, caramel, malt, peat, rose, cut grass, citrus, cloves, ginger and medicinal). It was a great first distillery tour and a great way to close up the Fife part of our trip.
Considering how much fun we had, it is difficult to imagine why travelers don’t come here in higher numbers. Walks, castles (like Falkland Palace, with its rich history) and great people are in abundance here, yet Jill seemed to say that tourists avoid the East Coast for the most part and concentrate around Fort Williams and Ben Nevis.
There were many more pictures, but I couldn’t put them all here. For more pictures, head over to my Flickr account.