The folks of Edinburgh all know the secret of East Neuk, a coastal region in Fife where the estuary of The River Forth merges with The North Sea. Each village has it’s own character and features; St Monan’s being just one of those places.
‘Neuk is the Scots work for nook or corner,’ Wikipedia informs us, and the ‘corner of Fife’ aptly describes East Neuk, omitting any reference to its natural charm and beauty.
East Neuk stretches from Earlsferry and Elie (my last post) to Kingsbarns, and each wee place has a unique character. Incidentally Mac Duff is said to have fled from Mac Beth via the ferry to the southern coast of the estuary. Hence the name Earlsferry!
From Lady Tower in Elie and passing the ruins of Newark Castle along Rose Bay you have a fairly gentle walk to St Monan’s. The path follows the rocks below this tiny kirk at low tide, but there is a detour behind the village to avoid getting your feet wet when the tide is high.
The colourfully painted cottages along the harbour frontage lead you towards The Smokehouse; a restaurant where you can eat out of cardboard boxes whilst overlooking both harbour and the view towards The Isle of May. Alternatively there’s the more cosy option of The Diving Gannet, a wee cafe just off the harbour. Both places are well worth visiting for much needed refreshments, but maybe on different visits!
Following the Coastal Path signs out of the village you pass the salt pans from days gone by, when Fife exported salt overseas. Then there’s the windmill, which has appropriately been turned into a lifeguard station, from which there are clear views in all directions, if the weather is fair.
It is good to pause and reflect a wee while in each of the fishing harbours of East Neuk; think on their similarities and difference, the ambiance and their sense of community; before continuing your journey along the Fife Coastal Path, which was the inspiration for my book.
Diana Jackson is the author of ‘The Healing Paths of Fife.’