Fife Stories and Tips

The Kingdom of Fife

View from St Rule's tower Photo, St. Andrews, Scotland

Fife is a county in central Scotland, located on a peninsula between the rivers of Forth and Tay, and the cities of Edinburgh and Dundee. It's habitually referred to as the Kingdom of Fife, as it was originally a Pictish kingdom known as Fib.

It's a small county, barely 30 miles across and 20 miles from north to south, but it has a wealth of interest and attractions that may rival much larger areas.

A COUNTY OF THREE PARTS

Fife divides naturally into three parts of a distinctive character.

The southern/western part of the county, including the docks of Rosyth and stretches roughly between the towns of Dunfermline in the south-west and Glenrothes in the north-east, is noticeably more populated and more industrial. It used to be a centre of the former coalfields and the typical post-industrial deprivation and lack of future perspective left its mark on the former mining villages of this are. Although all of Fife is, arguably, within the Edinburgh commuter belt, this area is even more so.

Lomond Hills, a distinctive craggy hills of volcanic origin, separate this part of from the north-east area of Fife which is largely agricultural, with small villages and hardly bigger towns. It's more sedate, more conservative and feels, well, old, somehow. One gets an impression that north Fife has been there, pretty much as it is now, give or take a car or a supermarket, for a very long time. North Fife looks to Tay and Dundee more than to Forth and Edinburgh and has also links to Perth next door. This area contains the market town of Cupar as well as the ancient cathedral city and university centre of St Andrews.

The south-east corner of Fife is known in Scotland as the "East Neuk" (nook) of Fife. Originally an area of fishing villages, it has been taken over by the wealthier inhabitants of Edinburgh and houses commuters as well as containing many holiday homes, while the fishing industry is declining and some fishermen can't afford to live in the coastal villages and have to commute from inland locations.

MOVING ON

Assuming travel north from Glasgow or Edinburgh, there are two natural routes from Fife. One is across the Tay to Dundee and beyond, to explore the east coast of Scotland and the Craignorms with their beautiful Angus Glens.

The other is to go north-west to Perth and Perthshire and plunge yourself straight into the romance and magnificence, tweeness and glory of the Highlands.

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