It was my birthday recently and since moving to Scotland we have made a point of spending the day at the seaside (usually the East Neuk of Fife) to celebrate. This year was no exception, although came with a twist – a visit to Cambo Estate in time to see the snowdrops. This has been on my (ever growing) list of places that I want to visit for some time now and it didn’t disappoint.
Just an hours drive east from Perth we started our day in Crail and a wander along the coastal path and down into the harbour. Spring has definitely been in the air recently with big blue skies and mild temperatures of over 12°. Usually, we are blown around all over the place at this time of year as we walk along the short section of the Fife Coastal Path, but not today. The sea was flat, except for the gentle lapping against the rocks and allowed the eider ducks to bob on the water without a care in the world.
The tide was out and down at the harbour the heady smell of the seaside (I’m not talking fish suppers), wafted in the air; weirdly I quite enjoy it. We weren’t long exploring the coastal path on the south side of the harbour before turning on our heels and make our way back to the car but even in this short time the tide had already turned and started to lift the small boats once more.
Cambo Estate and Gardens are only a few miles drive inland from Crail and although it is well signposted it’s tucked away down a long drive with woodland either side. For first time visitors like us this was a joy; with the sun shining over the bare tree branches and lighting up the snowdrops on the ground.
We were booked on a 13:30 tour of the gardens with the Head Gardener, but arrived early so that we could indulge in cake and coffee. Crossing the old stableyard in front of what is now the visitor centre there were brave souls sat in the February sunshine eating their lunch.
The visitor centre, also known as the Tack Room, is a hive of activity with interactive displays on the walls to engage young and old in the history of the estate and nature. Of course, all visitor centre’s have the obligitory gift shop for mementos of a day out but this one was different. Packed with locally sourced gifts such as soap, carved wooden spoons, art and jewellery, all very beautiful. Plants are also available to buy
The cleverly named Nosebag Café is also a part of the old stable blocks which were given their new lease of life back in 2017. Even on a weekday it was busy and we timed it just right to get a seat before the lunch time rush. The menu looked simple but very tasty – soup and sandwich or just cake, all very tempting. I indulged in chocolate and beetroot cake – never tried it before but it was scrummy.
Cambo Estate – Snowdrops
Before we had even got out of the car I knew we were in for a real treat because the driveway was flooded by a sea of snowdrops. A small group of people waited for head gardener, Fay in the courtyard and we watched the great tits and blue tits flitting about from one feeder to the next, not phased at all by us.
During the thirty minute tour Fay points out some of the subtle differences between some of the snowdrop varieties and some more glaringly obvious ones too. Also the history of the house, walled garden (which we were yet to see) and the workshops that are regularly held there. Taking the opportunity to have a closer look at some of these bonnie little flowers I can openly say I am even more in love with them. Double snowdrops, with layers and layers of beauty hiding away so close to the ground. One species looks like it has a pair of scissors on them and, possibly my favourite – Grumpy named because of his wee grumpy green face. I suppose, we can’t all be happy and smiley.
Cambo Estate Gardens
At the end of the tour we were free to wander the grounds at our own leisure – the gardens, woodland and a more formal walled garden. Anenomes in flower, crocus’ showing first signs of colour and wild garlic tips just peeking out of the soil, all quite lovely.
All the while we meander the paths of the gardens we are aware of just how close to the coast we still are. The smell of fresh sea air is confusing as we are in the woodland and as the path drops we had our first sight of Cambo Sands. The Fife Coastal Path takes walkers right passed the edge of the woods and alongside Kingsbarn golf course, so the Dude and I ventured down onto the path for a walk on the beach. Really pretty, long stretch of white sand and on a day like this, it was perfect.
Back into the woodland and listening to the small burn that runs down into the sea, still surrounded by snowdrops. We certainly did time it just right to see them in their full glory.
Into the Walled Garden and it’s own micro-climate, I immediately slowed my walking pace down to “snail.” Winter probably isn’t the best time to see the 2.5 acres of walled garden but even now, in the sunshine we could see it’s potential. Bare branches that made a tunnel to walk through, thorny climbing roses clinging to the walls and the sound of water trickling along the burn, we already decided to come again in the summer. The pockets of snowdrops and statues certainly brightened up the walk through.
That’s the beauty of a visit to Cambo Estate it is continually changing. All the different seasons produce more colour, flowers and fruit, and change the look of the garden once more. The gardens are open all year round and there are even seasonal interest tours for those with green fingers or who wish to learn more from the horticulture team.
I would certainly recommend this to anyone visiting Fife or those golf widows who get left to their own devices all day too.
Many thanks to Cambo Garden’s head gardener, Fay for allowing us free entry to the grounds in return for this blog post it’s images. All cake choices and favourite miserable snowdrops are my own.