Fife’s Hidden Gems

August 9, 2019

If you love visiting new destinations and discovering hidden attractions, cool sights and unusual things to do, you’ll want to get off the beaten track and avoid some of the more popular tourist locations. Instead explore like a local and experience the best that Fife has to offer to take in some of its history, culture and people as well as a few hidden gems that the locals treasure most.

Bishop Bridge over Ceres burn

Craighall Den, Ceres

Craighall Den is a woodland that lies on the outskirts of the village of Ceres with an inviting path network that winds its way throughout the area. The site is recognised as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) due to it being one of the largest and best examples of semi-natural woodland in East Fife, but its attraction is the scenic walking routes for locals and well-informed visitors. While the main route through the woodland is less than 1 mile, there are many other informal routes that can take you along the picturesque burn and past the Limekilns. There is also a circular core path route that will take you from Ceres through the woodland and back again. For more description on the route just click here.

Cameron Reservoir

This site benefits from a lovely circular walk that will take you right around the entire reservoir and through various habitats that contain all sorts of interesting wildlife. The northern side of the loch has a surfaced path and affords a view of the open water while the south side is a rough track through sparse woodland. The site is one of the largest areas of open water in Fife, approx. 2.5 miles around the loch. If you’re looking for a longer walk the circular route also links into the wider core path network which can take you North to St Andrews going through Craigtoun Country Park, a trip of about 8 miles there and back.

The beach at Shell Bay, on the route of the Fife Coastal Path, near Elie, East Neuk of Fife

Elie Chainwalk

The Elie Chainwalk is one of Scotland’s best-kept coastal secrets and one of our favourite recommendations for visitors with a healthy spirit of adventure. To call it a walk is not strictly accurate, it is more of a scramble around rocks where solidly planted steel chains and perfectly placed footholds provide the means to navigate a particularly tricky section of the Fife Coastal Path which hugs the cliffs towards Kincraig Point and Shell Bay. If you have a head for heights and adventure, its perfect! Access from the east is from the village of Elie or from the west via Shell Bay Caravan Park. There are no hard and fast rules about which way to do the chain walk, some traditionally start at the east end, others at the west. Allow around 2 hours to complete the course taking into account other visitors that may be on the chainwalk at the same time and check the tides. Some of the route is immersed at high tide and can only be safely undertaken when the sea is out, or at least receding.

The harbour at Crail, in the East Neuk of Fife

The Lobster Store

In our humble opinion, the best lobster in the world! Freshly cooked local lobster served from a no-frills seafood shack on the harbour in Crail. They also serve dressed Crail Crab if you want something a bit easier. The Lobster Store has  seasonal opening hours, so it is always worth calling them to check if they are open and if they have stock (Tel:01333 450476). The local lobster boats cannot go out if the sea conditions are a bit on the rough-side! Opening times are April to September, Tuesday to Sunday noon–4pm. Closed on Mondays.

Scotstarvit Tower

Located close to Ceres and Craigrothie, just off the A916, Scotstarvit Castle isn’t your usual 1500s tower house. There is no kitchen, one floor has no fireplace, and another has no windows, despite the castle’s impressive location overlooking the River Eden and Craigrothie Burn. It was the property of Edinburgh lawyer and mild eccentric Sir John Scot, who rebuilt an earlier tower house to its present form. A poet and patron of the arts, Sir John’s quirky outlook is reflected in his rebuilt tower.

To get access you need to arrange in advance with the team at the Hill of Tarvit Mansion house on Tel: 01334 653 127.

Wemyss Caves

Wemyss Caves

The Wemyss Caves are former sea caves created by wave action around 8000 years ago near East Wemyss in Fife. Six of the caves are protected ancient monuments and contain nationally important heritage, including a unique collection of symbols carved 1500 years ago by people known as the Picts.  The Visitor Centre in the village of East Wemyss is open every Sunday between 1:30pm and 4pm between April and September with a guided tour that departs at 2:30pm. Advance booking for the tour is strongly recommended as there is a practical limit of 25 visitors in a group. A full tour to the caves and back is one mile long and usually lasts around an hour and a half.

One of the underground tours at Wemyss Caves

If you prefer, you can stay above ground and instead visit the Museum that is housed in the Visitor Centre. A Virtual Reality installation provides a fully immersive experience of visiting the caves without leaving the building. As well as telling the story of the caves, the Museum has displays and information on local geology and history, including later industries based in the village like mining and textiles.

Pillars of Hercules Organic Farm Shop & Cafe

Acclaimed as ‘Fife’s finest organic food store’, this is definitely the go-to place for discerning shoppers that are trying to source requirements that might not be available elsewhere. Stocking an astonishing range of organic whole foods, gluten free foods, vegetarian products, meat, dairy, household, dried goods, beer and wine. Most of the organic fruit and vegetables are grown at the farm.

A trip to Pillars of Hercules is easy to combine with a visit to the Lomond Hills as they are located just outside of Falkland on the A912 to Strathmiglo. The farm shop is open every day throughout the year including bank holidays 9.00am – 6.00pm, so you can pick up everything you need for a picnic and head off to the hills.

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