As I write more of these wee reviews you’ll begin to see that I have a certain type of cafe I like to go to. I’d much rather go to these than a posh restaurant any day. I like country kitchen style places, with log fires, wood, oak tables, fresh food sourced locally and cooked simply. I especially like them when there is a certain something extra, something a bit funky and different.
Mitchells in St Andrews is my kind of place. Situated in the heart of the city, on Market Street, this cafe draws you in with their blackboard menus and fresh veg in wooden crates along the path outside. Colourful flowers and herbs in wicker baskets, old milk urns and a vintage bicycle look beautiful below the almost floor length windows.
Inside, the menus, wine lists and specials are also written on blackboards on the walls. It is rustic with a bit of tweed thrown in. It has notes stuck on the wall with magnetised letters, song lyrics, recipes, a bit of a Aladdin’s cave kind of place, I loved it. It has a funky, fun atmosphere, although there was every kind of customers there, families, students studying, pensioners reading their papers and workers too.
To be honest, this is a place I had passed umpteen times on the way up the A9 but never went in thinking it would just be another tourist stop, but on the way up to Dornoch a couple of months ago my mum dragged me in for a coffee and i couldn’t have been more wrong. Located ten miles north of Pitlochry in Scotland and standing proudly at the foot of the Bruar Falls, House of Bruar it turns out, is the perfect stop off if you are travelling up north. It stands out from miles away due to its beautiful white washed turret, and the grounds around the building are spotless and very well kept.
Not only is it a thriving independent retailer selling country tweed and Scottish country clothes, it also has the biggest collection of Cashmere anywhere in Britain, as well as a world renowned food hall, an award winning butcher, a large country kitchen style restaurant and it’s very own art gallery.
Founded in 1995 by Mark Birkbeck, who came north from Yorkshire because of his love of fishing in the Highlands, the visitor numbers have risen steadily over the years, welcoming more than 1 million last year alone. There is also now a very successful online site selling all over the world, earning it the nickname “The Harrods of the Highlands”.
The food hall is fantastic, chock full of quality Scottish food and drink, all locally produced, and fresh, and delicious!
This section of the walk takes on a more urban feel, passing several industrial towns and seeing many factories, some closed down and some still thriving. The path can be challenging at times with a few steep climbs, but again has those amazing views. I’ve split this section in two as it is supposed to carry on until West Wemyss, but because it was such a foggy day I stopped in Kirkcaldy and will finish the walk when the sun decides to reappear. I apologise for the lack of blue skies in these photos and I will revisit and take some more once its sunnier. Although I have to say the scotch mist gives the villages and beaches a certain mystical, calming feel.
Burntisland is a town known to generations of families around Fife, and Scotland, who have visited here during the summer, it has always been popular for day trippers who come here for the blue flag beach and the summer fair. It also has a fantastic, huge Highland games here every July. It certainly has a holiday village kind of feel about it. While it used to be an quite an industrial town, it is not so much anymore since the aluminium works closed here in 2002. It has a lovely high street with lots of little independant shops, an old fashioned amusement arcade and a few cafes, I especially love the cafe “Potter About”, they do fantastic paninins and toasties and the kids can paint some pottery while you eat. I also always visit Lynne’s Fruit and Veg as she sells made up bags of veg to make soup, and includes everything you need including any herbs, garlic and rice etc, all measured out and ready to go, a brilliant idea I think.
When I knew I wanted to write about Whisky in Scotland, I thought what better way than by taking a tour of where it is made, and what better distillery to visit than where the number one whisky in Scotland is made – Famous Grouse. Whisky is definitely Scotland’s national drink, Scotch Whisky to be precise. In order to be called Scotch Whisky it has to be wholly distilled and matured for at least three years in Scotland, and every bottle made at Glenturret is true Scotch Whisky. Not only is it number one in Scotland, it is now sold in over 100 countries worldwide.
Situated in the hills and glens of Highland Scotland, The Glenturret Distillery is Scotland’s oldest working distillery , and still uses traditional methods and traditional equipment to give their whisky it’s distinctive taste. In fact it has been proven that whisky has been made on this site as far back as 1717, nearly 300 years!
Edinburgh Castle stands proudly on the top of Castle Rock, dominating the Edinburgh skyline. It has been through it’s fair share of turbulent times since building began in the 12th century, and it is now Scotland’s most popular tourist attraction. With unparalleled panoramic views and brilliant facilities provided by it’s caretaker, Historic Scotland, it’s good to have such a magnificent piece of history right on our doorstep.
Over the years the castle has been involved in several wars including the wars of Scottish independence in the 14th century and the Jacobite rising.in 1745. The prisoner block was used to hold prisoners during the Seven Years War, the American war of Independence and the Napoleonic war, and again during the the First World War.
It has also had many a Royal visitor. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James V1 in the rooms of the Royal Palace and King Malcolm III and his descendants spent most of their time living here as well as King David I.
During the 12th, 13th and 14th century the castle changed hands between Scotland and England several times, in the 15th century it was used as a weapons arsenal and in the 18th and 19th century it was used as a prison, as well as during the Second World War.
The Castle is now run, mostly, by Historic Castle and is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction, there has been two cafes/restaurants added, as well as some shops and an educational unit. The army still run the New Barracks block and the military museums.
There is so much to see here. Each part as exciting as the next. The prisoner of war block is a chilling reminder of how bad life could be during these famous wars, it is atmospheric, dark and just a little eerie, but I found it fascinating.
Part Two of the Fife Coastal Path begins at North Queensferry at the Waterloo monument and ends in the town of Burntisland. This section is 18.5km long and again is quite an easy walk, slightly longer though but a very pretty section. There are a couple of busy roads to walk beside but the paths are wide and in good condition. It should take roughly 5-6 hours. If the most impressive part of the first section were the 17th Century villages then the highlight of this section has to be the stunning shorelines and harbours
If you have already completed the first section you were probably too knackered to have a walk around North Queensferry so try and take the time to do it now. Be sure to have a nose inside the smallest working lighthouse in the world down by the shore and follow the path right around to the left to walk right under the Rail Bridge. There is also a free car park here, where we parked to start the walk. The walkway down to the water in front of the lighthouse is where the ferries used to leave to go over to the Forth before the Road Bridge was opened.