IT’S OFTEN said that you don’t appreciate just how special a place is when you live there – you take it for granted as you go about your daily life, forgetting to take a moment to consider just how lucky you are.

That’s how I feel about Fife now, having lived in Glasgow for so many years and only occasionally heading back to the Kingdom to visit friends and family. So, an unexpected stay in St Andrews earlier this year did make me yearn for the good old days when I worked for the local newspaper there.

The old St Andrews Citizen office in Greyfriars Gardens is a clothes shop now and many of the shops I used to frequent are long gone, similarly some of the pubs and restaurants although a few still remain – and it’s great to have so many more new ones to explore.

Staying in the splendid Hotel du Vin on The Scores, with a room looking out to the sea and West Sands, it was the perfect location – close to the main thoroughfares, the beach and, of course, the world-famous Old Course.

It may have been the end of January but the sun shone brightly and helped keep the chill at bay during windswept walks along the beach – although gloves, scarves, hats and plenty of layers were very much the order of the day.

Out of season the town was still busy given it’s home to the University of St Andrews and if there was a downside it was that many restaurants weren’t open on Mondays and Tuesdays – understandable when hospitality in general has a staff shortage and is dealing with spiralling costs.

However, dinner in our hotel was a treat, the French-style Bistro du Vin serving up elegant, tasty dishes. We also ate in Forgan’s on Market Street and The Saint Bar & Kitchen on South Street – although sadly we missed out on The Seafood Ristorante, a superb restaurant that looks over the beach at St Andrews Bay, just behind the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, due to its opening hours at the time.

Given the good weather we also headed down to the East Neuk for a day, lunching the wonderful Ship Inn in Elie. It also overlooks the beach and during the summer months you can cheer on its cricket team – it’s the only pub in the Britain to have a cricket team with a pitch on the beach.

It’s understandable why visitors flock to the East Neuk – it’s picturesque fishing villages are wonderful scenic and colourful. Pittenweem is a particular gem and has been named one of the top trending scenic beauty spots in Scotland One little gem of a village, in particular, could be the answer. Lying on the East Neuk of Fife, you'll find the stunning fishing village of Pittenweem – which has been named one of the top trending scenic Scottish beauty spots for travel in 2023. In August, it comes alive to the sights and sounds of Pittenweem Arts Festival.

But there’s also Crail, St Monans, Earlsferry and Anstruther to explore.

If golf is your thing, you’ll find plenty of choice here if you’ve exhausted all the options in St Andrews, the Home of Golf itself. Crail Golfing Society’s clubhouse overlooks the course and sea, and is a truly stunning location to get in a round. What’s more, the Society dates back to 1786 so there more than just a bit of golfing history to soak up.

In Anstruther, meanwhile, you’ll find the excellent Scottish Fisheries Museum and the multi-award-winning Anstruther Fish Bar.

While you’re never far from the sea in Fife, you’re never far from a farm shop either and one of my favourites is the warm and welcoming Ardross Farm Shop, near Elie. It’s also just a stone’s throw from Bowhouse, a local food hub that’s part of the Balcaskie Estate and connects small growers and producers with restaurants and shoppers.

Bowhouse holds market weekends that bring together local artisan food and drink traders. It’s a great day out for all members of the family - check its website for dates.

Also nearby is Kingsbarns Distillery which you pass on the way to the East Neuk from St Andrews. Home to Kingsbarns Lowland Single Malt whiskies, including its flagship product Dream to Dram, it’s a great place to visit and I highly recommend you book a tour to learn more – like Dave Myers and Si King did in a recent episode of The Hairy Bikers Go Local on BBC Two.

Make a day of it by popping into nearby Cambo gardens where the 2.5-acre walled garden dates from the 1800s. Cambo looks after the Plant Heritage national snowdrop collection, and there are over 350 varieties. Its snowdrop festival has finished but the gardens change with the months and seasons so there’s always something beautiful to see whatever time of year you visit – it’s wel



FOR MANY people driving to St Andrews their journey takes them through Cupar, my hometown, about 10 miles from St Andrews. It’s a former market and county town that has reinvented itself in recent years after a spell in the doldrums, as viewers of the recent BBC series, My Kind of Town, will be aware.

In the episode, presenter Ian Hamilton and Major, his guide dog, spend time in the town, talking to locals and visiting businesses and community groups. It’s leading the way with its ambitions to be a digital town and it has some fantastic local shops, including the famous Fisher & Donaldson bakery (also in St Andrews) and a popular monthly farmers’ market.

On the outskirts of Cupar is the splendid Cairnie Fruit Farm and maze, Scottish Deer Centre and Kingarrock, a hickory golf course situated at Hill of Tarvit, a stunning Edwardian mansion house.

Not far away is Ceres – where I attended primary school having grown up in Pitscottie, the next village. It famous for Ceres Games, the oldest free Highland games in the world which take place on the village green on the last Saturday in June. Ceres Games were started by Robert Bruce to thank the men of the village for their contribution to the Battle of Bannockburn.

The village is also home to Fife Folk Museum and Griselda Hill Pottery, which specialises in Wemyss Ware, at one time among the most sought-after Scottish pottery, first produced in Kirkcaldy in 1882.

From Pitscottie, if you have time for a detour – you can also cut off heading back towards Cupar from St Andrews – do visit the wonderful waterfall in Dura Den.

Dura Den, north of Pitscottie, is a 3km-long gorge and woodland, which includes the waterfall – Kemback Waterfall – to give it its proper name and is a popular destination for walkers and tourists all year round.

The flow of the waterfall is dependent on the amount of rain and, in fact, there has been severe flooding in the area on many occasions over the years, causing the road to be closed for long periods.



PLANNING TO visit Fife?

It’s not all about the picturesque East Neuk fishing villages, golf and St Andrews.

Delve further into Fife and unleash your inner Outlander in Culross, a west Fife village maintained by the National Trust for Scotland. Here, you can step back in time and wander the cobbled streets to get an insight into life in the 16th century.

It has history and culture in abundance but perhaps it’s a more recent starring role as Cranesmuir in the much-lauded Outlander TV series, much of it filmed here, that has put Culross on the tourist trail.

A starting point of the Fife Pilgrim Way, Culross has been a religious site since the 6th century. By the 13th century, there was a grand abbey at the top of the hill, with the village of Culross below. Today, Culross Abbey is in ruins but the town remains a stunning example of a 16th-century burgh.

In the 1500s, Culross was a thriving port, bringing such great wealth to one local laird and merchant that he built a palace for his family to live in. Today, ochre-coloured Culross Palace, with its recreated 16th-century gardens, is one of the many highlights of a visit to the village.

From Culross, it’s easy to get to Dunfermline, once Scotland’s ancient capital and now its newest city. Home to Dunfermline Abbey, the final resting place of 11 Scottish kings and queens, including Robert The Bruce, Dunfermline is also the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who gifted The Carnegie Library to his hometown along with Carnegie Hall and Pittencreiff Park with its formal gardens and resident peacocks.

The Carnegie Library and Art Galleries is a good starting point for a visit to the town.

Discover the history and heritage of Scotland’s oldest settlement – from royalty to rock bands.



GIVEN ITS coast and countryside it’s no surprise that Fife is fast gaining a reputation as a food and drink destination.

From the freshest fish landed at Pittenweem harbour to the Michelin-starred Peat Inn run by chef proprietor Geoffrey Smeddle to Eden Mill Brewery and Distillery at Guardbridge – soon to relocate to a site in St Andrews – there’s certainly a lot to shout about in Fife when it comes to food and drink.

For all your foodie inspiration, head to Food From Fife and Food and Drink Trails Fife.