Written by proxam2 on 25 Jul, 2012
It's hard to imagine that this quiet little burgh used to be a thriving, bustling sea-port exporting coal and salt (and much else), mainly to the Low Countries. The village was granted Royal Burgh status by James V1 in 1588 and a replica of the…Read More
It's hard to imagine that this quiet little burgh used to be a thriving, bustling sea-port exporting coal and salt (and much else), mainly to the Low Countries. The village was granted Royal Burgh status by James V1 in 1588 and a replica of the Mercat Cross stands outside the oldest house in the village(1577). The village declined at the end of the 17th century and became a bit of a ghost town until the National Trust purchased the Palace in 1932. This meant that nothing much in the way of new buildings were erected here. Since then the buildings have all been restored to their former glory and give a very real glimpse of the past.Today the village is more than just a picture-postcard museum, it is a lively community where people go about their normal lives.The historic Royal Burgh of Culross,(pronounced Kooros), is situated on the north side of the River Forth in West Fife. It is around 20 miles from Edinburgh and 30 miles from Glasgow.Take the A90 from Edinburgh, cross the Forth Road Bridge and turn onto the A985. The burgh is well signposted from there.From Glasgow, take the M80 and M876 to the Kincardine Bridge and follow the signs.There are car parks at the east and west sides of the village on Low Causeway.Culross is more of a day trip type of place but there is St. Mungo's B&B and the Dundonald Arms Hotel. Food and drink can also be had at the Dundonald and also at the Red Lion pub. There are also a couple of tea rooms. There are several footpaths and picnic areas along the waterfront.A good place to start would be the National Trust Visitor Centre in the Town House or Tolbooth(1626). They have a video display telling the history of the town. Maps showing rights of way are available here and these will show the private areas where access is denied.Beside the Town House is The Palace which is not a palace at all but a grand house built by the local laird, Sir George Bruce, a merchant and coal mine owner. The house was built between 1597 and 1611 and features original interiors with painted ceilings, wood paneling and furniture of the period. The restored garden has been developed with plants and vegetables that would have been in use in the 17th century.This is a very good example of Scottish architecture from this period with it's crow stepped gables and pan-tiled roofs.Back Causeway, a steep cobbled street leads up from the Town House to a small market place where you will find another building open to the public, the Study. This is a restored house which takes it's name from the room at the top of the tower.Further on, up the steep hill, past many beautifully restored houses, is Culross Abbey(1215). The original choir and tower are now the site of the parish church and the views over the Forth from here are wonderful.The other houses in the village are private residences but it is still very pleasant to walk around the narrow, cobbled street soaking up the historic architecture. The residents are well used to people gaping at their houses and are very friendly.Culross is a good day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow to a well restored typical 16-17th century Scottish burgh. It's not the place to go if you are looking for a wild time but if the weather is nice, this is a great place to wander around for a few hours and perhaps have a spot of lunch.It doesn't feel all that commercialized, although there are quite a few souvenir shops. Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 05 Apr, 2012
This is arguably the least attractive part of Fife, and only the most detailed explorer, or one with special interest in specifics of the area, would devote much time to it. Apart from the Deepsea World aquarium in South Queensferry (just by the bridge from…Read More
This is arguably the least attractive part of Fife, and only the most detailed explorer, or one with special interest in specifics of the area, would devote much time to it. Apart from the Deepsea World aquarium in South Queensferry (just by the bridge from Edinburgh), the nearby Culross and Dunfermline are the only places really worth a decent look.The former is a picturesque burgh with an attractive Palace (a house, really) and another of those atmospheric, ruined Scottish abbeys. The latter was a capital of Scotland for a substantial part of its history and although it very much went down in the world since, it holds several significant historical monuments. A centre for the Culdee faith in the 6th century, Dunfermline was for a time a capital of Scotland, a seat of its Royal Court and an important centre of Christianity. Notable sights include a ruin of the Royal palace, a a favourite residence of many Scottish kings, and a nearby Dunfermline Abbey, partially ruined church and priory dating back to 11th century. The abbey church is pretty impressive and the ruins, as often is the case with Scottish ruins, give a good impression of the building's former glory. The undecrofts of the Palace are the most unusual and well worth exploring.Dunfermline also advertises itself as a place of birth of Andrew Carnegie and there is a rather embarrassing monument to the man, consisting of the cottage named, yes, correct, the Birthplace Cottage and a large Memorial Hall, all devoted to celebrating Carnegie's life. The museum has been modernised and relaunched recently and anybody interested in industrial tycoons turned philanthropists can explore the life and times of Carnegie, saving-gracely, free of charge.This area of Fife was important part of the Fife coalfield and 53 pits were open at some time. The last one closed in 1988, and the feeling of post-industrial gloom still blights the area. There is a string of industrial - or rather post industrial - villages that are scattered in the countryside in this area and which also line the coast of the Firth of Forth from Rosyth to Leven, some of them with a bit of a sea-side resort reputation, but in all honestly, they have little of interest to a typical visitor and possibly even less as places to live in, as large swathes of council estates and some of the lowest property prices in Fife testify. Aberdour castle, in the eponymous village located between Dalgety Bay and Burntisland, is also worth visiting if you have time and are in the area, as it's an extensive site with a very good educational program for children (though it's possible you need to be a part of a group to take a full advantage of this). Close
Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 08 Sep, 2009
This is arguably the most interesting area of the county of Fife, with major national attractions and well worth at least a day, but easily able to provide a week of exploration.*Howe of Fife: Cupar and around*North Fife centres roughly on Cupar, old market town…Read More
This is arguably the most interesting area of the county of Fife, with major national attractions and well worth at least a day, but easily able to provide a week of exploration.*Howe of Fife: Cupar and around*North Fife centres roughly on Cupar, old market town and a reasonable enough place to pass through or stop for a while. Luvians Bottle Shop at 93 Bonnygate has a fantastic selection of whisky, some decent wine, the best ice-cream in town and a well-stocked deli counter too.Near Cupar is a well-know local country park with animals, Scottish Deer Centre, worth a visit particularly with children, although perhaps a mostly local-calibre attraction. *The ancient burgh of St Andrews*The prime destination in north Fife, and in fact in the whole of the Kingdom is undoubtedly St Andrews, an ancient centre of Christianity, known more recently as the birthplace of golf and, despite being rather overrun with tourists and day-trippers, a place eminently worth visiting and easily affording a day or two days exploration itself.St Andrews has two decent beaches but it's the golf and the history that make it such an attractive and popular place. The ancient St Andrews centers on the ruin of a cathedral with an associated small museum and a tall tower (St Rules Tower). There is also the St Andrews Castle (available as a joint ticket with the Abbey Museum and the tower), with the history dating to 10th century and a long-standing role as the seat of bishops and archbishops of St Andrews.Fans of golf, in addition to playing the famous courses, can visit the British Golf Museum.Apart from attractions, St Andrews is a very pleasant place to walk about, with an affluent and civilised feel similar to exclusive areas of larger cities.Nearby across the river Eden is RAF base Leuchars, and each September they put on an air show, reputedly one of the best in the UK and worth aiming for if you are into military aircraft. *The rest of North Fife*This is a pleasant, farmy, countryside, flat in the middle parts and rolling nicely to the north and the west; interspersed with hills and woodland areas. Organic farms with adjacent cafes and shops are quite a feature (the one near Falkland at Hercules Pillars and the one in Abernethy at Jamesfields are particularly worth a stop), there are ponds and country parks, petting zoos (Colessie) and folk museums (Ceres), as well as several more picturesque ruins. Good walking can be had on the Lomond Hills.The north coast of Fife along the river Tay looks to Dundee and the settlements of Tayport, Newport-on-Tay and Wormit are effectively Dundee suburbs. They don't offer any particular attractions to the visitor, although the Tentsmuir Forest at the very north-east tip of Fife, a pine forest planted along the dunes and a splendid, wide, white sandy beach is a lovely place for a family day out (weather permitting).Those with a particular liking for atmospheric ruined churches and abbeys might want to locate St Fillan's Church, Balmerino Abbey and Lindores Abbey, all in the coastal strip on North Fife between the towns of Newport and Newburgh.Apart from St Andrews, a major Fife historical sight is the Falkland Palace, in the village of the same name. Falkland itself is a fascinating little village, rich in historic buildings and a seat of the palace (which tarted its life as a castle in the medieval period) but is now a stunning example of Early Renaissance architecture, parts of it ruined, part restored to display standard, and with good gardens around it too.Close
East Neuk (ie East Nook, or the East Corner) is a term usually used to describe the stretch of land - mostly coastal, and traditionally populated by fishing villages stretching from Elie through St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther with Cellardyke and finally Crail. The attraction of…Read More
East Neuk (ie East Nook, or the East Corner) is a term usually used to describe the stretch of land - mostly coastal, and traditionally populated by fishing villages stretching from Elie through St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther with Cellardyke and finally Crail. The attraction of this imprecisely defined area is a stretch of coast, dominated by fishing villages and now largely devoted the tourist industry. There is still quite a bit of fishing operating from Pittenweem, but for tourists perhaps the most attractive and interesting is the biggest here village of Anstruther, with a fascinating interesting Scottish Fisheries Museum and a very lovely harbour indeed. Trips to the Isle of May operate from Anstruther harbour in the summer. If you need a bite to eat, the award winning (and really rather good) Anstruther Fish Bar is a legndarily good place for a fish supper (=fish and chips). Wee Chippy is a good alternative with less queues. Nearby Cellardyke is also a picturesque old fishing port, with an attractive harbour and much quieter than Anstruther which can get rather busy in the summer.One of the hidden gems (or follies, as it might be) of East Neuk is located about three miles north of Anstruther: Troy Wood houses what is known as Scotland's Secret Bunker, a huge complex hidden under an innocuously looking cottage. It's a poignant and thought-provoking reminder of the Cold War and stayed secret until 1993. It would would have served as the seat of the country's government in case of a nuclear war.Kelie Castle is an excellent historical monument nearby. Crail is the last of the East Neuk villages, sitting at the end of the stretch of coast along the Firth of Forth, and a particularly historical one, with another picturesque harbour and many a historical building.Fife Coastal Path runs the course of the East Neuk (starting before the East Neuk in the industrial towns of south-west Fife and continuing round the corner towards Kingsbarns and St Andrews). Close
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…Read More
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 PARTSFife 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 ONAssuming 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.Close
Written by amandabeth on 12 Apr, 2004
Once we had given up our flat in Edinburgh, I ended up spending a bit of time in Fife staying with my boyfriend's parents. Fife is just across the Forth from Edinburgh, and a journey there takes you across the Fife Rail Bridge, which…Read More
Once we had given up our flat in Edinburgh, I ended up spending a bit of time in Fife staying with my boyfriend's parents. Fife is just across the Forth from Edinburgh, and a journey there takes you across the Fife Rail Bridge, which the Scottish would have you believe is the coolest bridge in the world judging by the number of postcards/pictures on touristy books, etc. It is indeed a nice bridge, if you like bridges.
Burntisland, where I stayed, is a nice little town. I can't imagine there would be much of a reason to visit as a tourist, though on a sunny day the beach is very nice and there is a little Heritage Museum. One of the churches, the one by the train station, is notable for being where the King James version of the bible was authorized apparently.
However, there are some nice areas of Fife. The best known is, of course, St. Andrews. My favourite part of St Andrews is the beach, where the running on the beach scene of Chariots of Fire was filmed. It also has a ruined Cathedral, a ruined castle (you can't take dogs in, by the way, which is why I've never been inside myself), and some nice pubs around the university. Apparently the tourist numbers have increased since Prince William started attending university there, but my visit was before then.
Kirkaldy's museum and art gallery has a couple of paintings by Jack Vettriano, for any fans out there.
Dunfermline has a lovely abbey, and the head of Robert the Bruce, nicely shrivelled.
There are some really nice fishing villages in the East Neuk of Fife. We drove down to Anstruther to have Britain’s best fish and chips one sunny evening. Eating fish and chips on a bench beside the sea is a lovely experience. The fish shop is very popular, so there are queues to eat in or take out. The harbour makes for a good photos, as do those at Pittenweem and Crail, also fishing villages. Lots of lobster traps, old houses, and pretty views. Perfect on a sunny day if you are in the mood for a wander through small villages by car.
Written by amandabeth on 08 Apr, 2004
I have climbed my first Munro, Fionn Bhienn. Yay! Alan's father was doing his last (there are 284 of them in Scotland), and so he invited Alan and I to climb it along with him and the 8-Mile High Mountaineering Club. On a…Read More
I have climbed my first Munro, Fionn Bhienn. Yay! Alan's father was doing his last (there are 284 of them in Scotland), and so he invited Alan and I to climb it along with him and the 8-Mile High Mountaineering Club. On a sorry note, all the middle-aged men beat me to the top, as did an 84-year-old!!! At the top of the hill, we all drank whisky and Cava to celebrate.
However, the real excitement of the trip turned out to be at the Aultguish Inn -- the landlord is a complete nutter! The night we arrived, Alan’s parents fell out with him within minutes about having the dog along with us (apparently, in spite of his inn being very dog friendly as per the website, it is actually only dog friendly in two of the many rooms). Then, while we're eating dinner, the guy asks me if we're the Rannoch Mountaineering Club. . . well, no. It turns out he double booked the entire place.
Then, when one of the Rannoch guys arrives and is looking around the car park, the guy decides he's too close to the private area. The landlord accuses the poor guy of trespassing, the guy says he's got a booking, the landlord tells him to piss off, and the guys says to give him back his deposit. Next thing you know, the landlord is pushing the guy, who ends up calling the police, threatening to charge the landlord with assault!!!
The next night, after the hillwalking, we're in the pub having dinner/drinks and get told we are being too loud -- before 9pm! Then one guy who is singing away gets told he's cut off, and if the rest of us want to continue to drink we have to move to the function room. Which we start to do, when Alan’s mum has an argument with the guy and we all get thrown out of the pub! So, the party had to continue in the rooms of the bunkhouse, but apparently this club comes well prepared, as they had a ton of booze.
Munro bagging is a big thing in Scotland, and I must say while I like a bit of hiking, the Scottish tendency to hike only up inclines is a bit tiring.
The guy sent a letter to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland claiming that we caused damage to the bunkhouse (total lie) and were irresponsibly getting drunk on the hill and putting the lives of volunteer rescue services at risk. He actually likened us to drunk drivers in his letter, which is funny 'cause only a small amount of alcohol was consumed at the top of the hill, we had been at another pub before returning to the Aultguish, and obviously there were enough sober people to drive who hadn't had anything. In fact, I had all of one drink and a sip of whisky in the entire evening. So I got kicked out of a pub sober!!!
The council sent a letter to the 8-Mile High Club saying that they need to answer these charges because the landlord claims we put the name of the council in disrepute. His words, I kid you not.
Alan managed to track down the other club that had a problem with him on the Internet, so they were contacted and got involved. And a teacher at the school Alan’s dad works at had had a separate run in with the guy. It all worked out in the end and the landlord has since sold the pub. Presumably it’s safe to stay there again!
Written by amandabeth on 07 Apr, 2004
I did not break my record last year for number of festival shows. And when I filled out a survey for a woman at the book festival, she asked my occupation, I said travelling, she wrote down unemployed.
I started out the festival by…Read More
I did not break my record last year for number of festival shows. And when I filled out a survey for a woman at the book festival, she asked my occupation, I said travelling, she wrote down unemployed.
I started out the festival by seeing Monty Python's Flying Circus performed in French the day I flew in from Dublin. Not only is my French not as bad as I would have thought, but the lyrics to "Sit on My Face" were much funnier in French. Le parroque est mort! My next stop was Ross Noble (not as funny as last year, sadly), followed by Thebans (Oedipus, Antigone, and that one with Oedipus’s two sons fighting it out over Thebes, can never remember the name, all in one play) by Liz Lockhead - very good Scottish poet. Shakespeare's Italian Job (picture the film but with all dialogue taken from existing Shakespearean plays). I saw All the Great Books by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Sexual Perversity in Chicago (a Mamet play, very student-y production, but good), Camut Band's Life in Rhythm (tap dancing and drum playing, very good), The Typographer's Dream (very depressing, about people and their careers and how they don't much like them), and Alexandra's Project (go see this film! Australian, really weird, but must see).
The book festival was my favourite of them all this year. I saw David Reiff (wrote a book about humanitarian aid called "A Bed for the Night"), Susan Sontag (WOW), Gil Courtemanche (he's Canadian, I had never heard of him, read an article in the paper and decided to go, his book "A Sunday Afternoon at the Pool in Kigali"), Kate Atkinson, and Iain Banks.
Saw a big Monet presentation (the RSA is finally finished being refurbished), the DinoBirds of China at the Museum of Scotland. I am going to miss the smell of Edinburgh - the smell of beer from the Caledonian brewery and all those pubs... Edinburgh smells like no place else in the world.
The festival season in Edinburgh can be quite expensive. As I’ve always lived in Edinburgh (or in the case of this particular year, stayed with friends), I’ve never actually had to deal with the accommodation end of things, but it is a very busy time of year. Book ahead. The shows are also quite pricey, but there are deals to be had. The International Festival does cheap morning-of tickets - if it’s for a popular show, go really early - for opera tickets one year, I queued up at 5:30am for tickets that went on sale at 9am. And the BBC does radio shows of comedians, author readings, music, etc., and you can get free audience tickets - check out the BBC website. If you hang out at places like the Pleasance Courtyard, people will sometimes wander around offering free tickets to things, even free T-shirts. Food is going to be expensive as well. A place called Snax is cheap, if rather greasy, and it’s just off Princes St and North Bridge (they have a sign), just wander up the alleyway. Right above Snax is a pub that opens around 5am or something like that. I’ve heard it said that during the Festival you can drink for 24 hours straight at pubs and festival venues - feel free to take that as a challenge!
Written by cnarf2002 on 14 Mar, 2005
If you have ever looked through a book with photographs of Scotland, it is almost guaranteed that you've seen a photo of this church. Why, I hear you ask, is this church so popular with photographers? The answer is due to the pure…Read More
If you have ever looked through a book with photographs of Scotland, it is almost guaranteed that you've seen a photo of this church. Why, I hear you ask, is this church so popular with photographers? The answer is due to the pure drama of the location. The kirk (church) sits perched on a craggy rock that drops sharply to the sea and provides breathtaking views over the Firth of Forth and the village of St Monans itself, which is a beautiful and picturesque example of a Scottish fishing village.
The present church was built in 1362 to replace an earlier chapel on this site. It was built on the instructions of David II for his gratitude in being rescued after his ship was wrecked in the Firth of Forth, and it is a wonderful example of medieval architecture. The inside is relatively plain, with whitewashed walls, but definitely worth a look, at least to see the memorial to the storm that took the lives of several of the village fisherman.
Written by shadyacre on 29 Feb, 2004
This was the best surprise of our holiday and we went to quite a few countries that holiday. Scotland was just beautiful around every corner. From busy Edinburgh to Inverness, Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond (the beautiful Cameron House), and Bannockburn, (Braveheart country), everywhere we…Read More
This was the best surprise of our holiday and we went to quite a few countries that holiday. Scotland was just beautiful around every corner. From busy Edinburgh to Inverness, Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond (the beautiful Cameron House), and Bannockburn, (Braveheart country), everywhere we went was so full of history and interest.Close