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Travel To The Scenic Villages Of The East Neuk Of Fife

Within a short drive south of St. Andrews, on the shoreline of the East Neuk, are some of the most scenic and unspoiled fishing villages in all of Scotland. Each village has its own special character, but it is the overall beauty and deep sense of history that stays in the memory of most travelers to this area.

The East Neuk ( the eastern corner ) of Fife, where I was raised, reflects, in one compact area, the history and character of Scotland. Here, looking out over the North Sea, nature has provided a group of picturesque bays backed by a stretch of fertile countryside. From Fife Ness in the east, through Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem and St Monans, to Earlsferry in the west, there are five ancient burghs ( organized communities ), each with its own distinct individuality.

Church, Cross and Harbour provide the focal points around which the pattern of each of these East Neuk burghs has evolved. And along the streets and wynds are the old houses that contribute most of all to the architectural beauty of this area. Indeed, it is generally accepted that both for quality and quantity the East Neuk burghs contain some of the finest examples of Scottish domestic architecture.

All of these buildings are made of local stone, sometimes hewn from a local quarry, sometimes in the form of boulders lifted from the shore. In some examples the natural face of the rock is left exposed, but since much of the local stone is soft the more common tradition in the East Neuk has been to cover the stone with a lime-washed roughcast or " harl," highlighting the detail of the doors, windows and panels set into the walls.

The brilliant whites and other colours of the East Neuk houses make the burghs wonderfully bright and interesting places. Even the roofs add their splash of colour, the strong red pantiles predominating, varied by grey or blue slates. The use of pantiles also explains the existence of the highly picturesque, yet practical, " crowstepped " gables.

There are many more delightful features to be found throughout the East Neuk. Moulded doorpieces often depicting the initials of the owner and his wife, or symbols of the owner's trade, are to be seen in all the fishing villages. Parish churches and churchyards are to be found in every burgh. Most all are worth a visit.

Another building of interest is the old windmill on the coast between Pittenweem and St Monans. This mill used to pump brine from the sea to the salt-pans for which the shores of the Forth were once famous. " Doocots " are also dotted around the countyside.

The area is also rich in castles and mansions. The oldest and most interesting being Kellie Castle situated just north of Pittenweem. This castle, or fortified house, is most definitely worth a half-day visit.

The East Neuk, only a few miles from St Andrews is also ideally located for easy trips to  Dunfermline, Culross, Perth, Edinburgh, Falkland Palace,  and all of historic Fife and Perthshire.

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please:

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