St Andrews is a classy town. Best known as 'The Home of Golf' St Andrews, in the north of Fife, is where the game was invented and if it's golf you are coming for there are an amazing 10 courses to play on, including the famous Old Course. St Andrews also has the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. There is so many things to do in St Andrews that I highly recommend spending at least 2 days here although if you only have one you can still get a feeling for the town and get the chance to explore. It's a town which is culturally rich, with a diverse population and unique attractions. It's really a town like no other and it would be a shame to miss it off your Scotland Itinerary.
Things to do in St Andrews
Mysterious places fascinate me. Places that aren’t well known and are off the beaten track. If they happen to be linked with ancient customs, fairies, Celtic rituals or anything along those lines then even better. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tourist attraction too but I like nothing better than grabbing the dog and taking off on the hunt to find a hidden gem. Dunino Den, in the East Neuk of Fife, is exactly that. It ticks all the boxes. Stunning location, fascinating things to see which can’t always be explained, hidden, not well known and surrounded by rumours of druids and fairies.
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A luxury wooden wigwam, tucked away unseen along a winding farm track lined with daffodils and spring blooms, on a pretty woodland estate in the heart of Fife. Sounds pretty heavenly doesn’t it? When I was invited along to try out the new wigwams on Montrave Estate I jumped at the chance. Having stayed in a few of these wigwams in other areas of Scotland I knew it would be a fab two days. Glamping in Fife is exactly the kind of wee break that I love.
I love showcasing accommodation in Fife and indeed Scotland, I love helping my readers to find their perfect place to stay. Although I tend to end up in quirky glamping spots I do like to ramp it up with a stay in a luxury hotel in Scotland once in a while, everybody loves to be pampered after all. Scotland does luxury well! This weekend I was invited along to check out the multi million pound renovation of the stunning Fairmont near St Andrews, spend the night and enjoy their Savoy Afternoon tea.
Situated three miles east of St Andrews the Fairmont Hotel sits in 512 acres of beautifully manicured land. Two championship eighteen hole golf courses, The Torrance and The Kittocks, hug the coastline surrounding the hotel with panoramic views of St Andrews and the Fife Coastal Path.
A beautifully cute sea view cottage on the Fife Coastal Path
I adore everything about the East Neuk of Fife, luckily I get to visit often as I live close by. The white washed houses, slotted in between the colourful ones in bright blues, oranges and pinks are cute as a button. They line the harbour front where fishing boats bob gently in the water and the seabirds fly overhead hoping for a bite to eat. The little wonky lanes that head uphill to the small Main Street are home to artists, craftsmen and holiday homes. Up on the Main Street are some lovely cafes which have excellent reputations amongst the locals and I find the locals always know best when it comes to food and where to eat. The East Neuk is an area of Fife that is hugely popular with Scottish families and couples who want a weekend away but is often overlooked by the international visitor who will land in Edinburgh or Glasgow and head up north to the Highlands. I can’t recommend this area enough. Pittenweem and also the surrounding fishing villages of Anstruther, St Monans, Elie and Crail should definitely be added into your Scotland itinerary, just look at the photos!
The farm shops in Fife have it easy. The Kingdom of Fife’s vast coastline and fertile farmland means there is ample supply of locally produced food and drink. The long and glorious rugged coastline and the waters of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea supply fresh prawns, lobster, crabs, razor fish, clams and langoustine which are used in restaurants across the region as well as Michelin star restaurants and five star hotels. There are whisky and gin distilleries such as Eden Mill, Kingsbarn Distillery and Lindores Abbey who use fresh local water supplies to make their award winning drinks. There is also a cheese makers, bakeries, butchers, a buffalo farm, sauce makers, jam makers, chutney makers and even a Chilli Farm. Fife’s Farm shops certainly don’t have a struggle finding top class produce to line their shelves and luckily for the customers we can go to these farm shops and fill our baskets knowing we are supporting the local economy and also getting a pretty damn fine selection of goodies too. These four farm shops in Fife do it brilliantly well.
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I love that each of these farm shops support local producers by stocking their products and promoting them in their shops. I love that each of the owners are passionate about the food they sell and about their business. Of course I also love that I can go to one place and get everything I need and it doesn’t involve a multi story car park, a tonne of unnecessary plastic and an abundance of processed junk food.
Nothing beats opening the doors to these farm shops, smelling the fresh handmade breads, picking up your wicker basket, selecting your colourful veg (which are sometimes wonky and always mouthwatering because unlike supermarkets this amazing veg doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform in size and shape), filling your paper bag, browsing the meat counters, tasting the cheese, selecting the perfect wine. It’s a misconception that these farm shops are expensive. Sure, there are some items which are expensive, but you are paying for quality and the knowledge that the best ingredients were used. There are definitely bargains to be had though, I always buy my fruit and veg here, where else can you get 8 massive, fresh from the ground, carrots for £1?
These four farm shops in Fife below are all fantastic. Have you visited any? What did you think? Love them as much as I do?
I could make this one really quick,
Follow the path and soak up the views.
Walks in Scotland don't come much better than the Fife Coastal Path and this section from Lower Largo to St Monans is my favourite part so far. 9.5 miles of stunning beaches, cute villages and panoramic vistas. It should take between 3-4 hours but you will want to stop off and explore so many times you could easily make a full day of it. You can read about the other sections that I've completed in the Fife Coastal Path section of the blog.
Updated August 2018
Castles have always fascinated me and being a Scottish travel blogger I visit a lot! I love wandering through the tunnels of castles in Fife, climbing the spiral staircases, searching for engravings on the walls, imagining the stories and the lives of the inhabitants who once waltzed in the great halls, baked bread the kitchens, and played hide and seek in the gardens. I love imagining what the rooms once looked like, the brightly coloured tapestries hanging on the walls, the dark furniture, the smokey kitchens.
Everyone loves a good castle don't they?
There are several castles in Fife, some are romantic ruins, some are almost in one piece. Some have recreated rooms to give you an idea of how they once looked, others you just have to use a little imagination...
Near the Milton of Balgonie and 2.2 miles east of Glenrothes in Fife Balgonie Castle is a quirky and unique place to visit. Now owned by the Laird of Balgonie, Raymond Stanley Morris and his son Stuart Morris of Balgonie, this castle has a long and rough history. Building began in the 14th century with the Sibbald family who built the main tower house and fortified courtyard and was added to over the years, like many Scottish castles, by the families who took over the castle. Sir Robert Lundie, Lord High Treasurer of Scotland added a two story building to the east of the main tower. Sir Alexander Leslie (who became Lord Balgonie and Earl of Leven), John Leslie (7th Earl of Rothes) and James Balfour, grandfather of Arthur Balfour who became prime minister in 1902 all owned and lived in the castle but it was the latter who was unable to save it from decay.
Years passed, the roofs were removed for tax purposes and the vandals got in and it wasn't until 1971 that restoration began. The current owners are painstakingly repairing the castle and the chapel and main tower are now complete. It was used in the filming of the first season of Outlander and also the film, The Fairy Flag. You can now visit the castle and have a tour and you can even get married there! The Laird himself is a gifted artist and his art work is present all around the castle, making it pretty unique. The passion of the owners to restore this beautiful castle to its former glory is inspiring to see. Check the website before you visit to make sure it's open, at the moment (from April 2018) the castle is open Wednesday to Sunday 1pm - 5pm.
THE Kingdom of Fife on the east coast of Scotland is becoming quite the hub of culinary greatness. Restaurants with great reputations who have been in Fife for decades sit happily alongside new talent coming up through the ranks and opening sensational new restaurants.
Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/8-dishes-you-must-try-7522365#C1sizF1r0vlqP0fT.99
Fife is fast becoming known for it’s superb food, it’s talented chefs, delicious local produce and first class restaurants and cafes. My fellow Scotlanders joined me in Fife recently to explore the Kingdom of Fife as part of a campaign with Welcome to Fife. Using the hashtag #LoveFife we each had different itineraries and I had the opportunity to try out some of the food I’d been hearing so much about.
We met up for tea and scones at Kingsbarns Distillery and Douglas Clement, the founder of the Distillery, gave us a tour. He has a fantastic story of how the business started, from being a golf Caddie on the courses of St Andrews, spotting a gap in the market, finding the perfect building which he had had an eye on for many years hoping someone would snap it up, to finding investment and renovating the old doocot and barns. The whisky distillery is nestled in the hills just outside St Andrews and is an excellent way to spend the afternoon.