My first awareness of Crail was as a jigsaw puzzle, the harbour being so full of character with its wee fisherman’s cottages and boats bobbing in the water inside the protective harbour wall.
When you first stumble across Crail you usually park in the village, with ample off the road parking, a neat tree lined street of Georgian elegance. Crail is best explored by foot and each time you do so you will probably find a different route down to the harbour, from narrow paths and castle walls, to steep cobbled roads. Don’t forget to pop into the museum and also enjoy an ice cream, fish and chips or a snack at one of the cafes. There are many sheltered spots for a picnic too. Just head for the castle walls.
It was such a surprise the first time we visited, peering down from the coastal path as it meets the main road, magical if the sun is shining: reminiscent of Cornwall’s Mousehole.
Who would not be inspired by Crail!
The Healing Paths of Fife, a memoir, tells the full story in prose, poetry and fantasy.
Continuing my walk along the Fife Coastal Path, following the wee fishing villages of Pittenweem and St Monan’s you come to Anstruther, or ‘Ainster’ as the locals call it. It is from here in the summer that you can catch a ferry to The Isle of May and even over to North Berwick, passing the colony of gannets at Bass Rock.
Still a fishing harbour, although most of our fish is brought in at Pittenweem now, it houses a Fisheries Museum along the front, as well as a famous Fish n Chip Shop. (although we find The Waterfront does fantastic meals too)
Anstruther is the ‘centre’ of East Neuk, a popular holiday or weekend destination for Edinburgh folks. In my mind it is an area worth visiting all year round. Check out the reopened haunted Dreel Inn, a place with character as you come into Anstruther, passing the house covered in sea shells.
I ‘met’ Robert Louis Stevenson here for a blether in The Healing Paths of Fife. His father was supervising the building of the harbour walls.
The walks along the coast in East Neuk are delightful and varied, with plenty of places to tempt you to pause, admire, rest and partake of the local refreshments and hospitality.