I am always on the look out for new places to take a walk and discover. A few weeks ago (that time in between Christmas and new year, where you haven’t got a clue what day it is), Dude and I set out for a winter trip to Elie and St Monans on the Fife coast.
It was a perfect winters day in Scotland for new adventures. The sky was bright blue and the sun was shining but the wind was bitterly cold! Talk about blowing away the cobwebs. This corner of the East Neuk was all new and exciting to us both and although it has been recommended to us several times since moving I now wish we had come sooner!
Our first stop was Elie and we were immediately taken in by it’s sweet charm; narrow streets, a mixture of architecture and the smell of the sea. The perfect welcome.
After putting on the last few outer layers we followed the signs to the beach, and just a couple of hundred metres walk before we caught our first glimpse of the beach. Greeted by the long beach, curving round and overlooked by houses; what a view they must have.
It was nice to see lots of families getting out too. One in particular caught our eye as they had set up camp, bringing chairs, towels, food and a stack of disposable BBQ’s, making a day of it. Everyone was wrapped up and the children played on the beach whilst the adults watched from the comfort of their chosen seat. Of course, there is always the biggest kid who likes to get involved with the balls games and this family was no different. Dad was on hand to make up the numbers and be the goal keeper. I’m a big fan of visiting the coast in the winter months but these guys had taken it to another level.
As we walked this small section of the Fife Coastal Path we discovered it is full of great scenery, history, wildlife, small coves and beaches. On a clear day like this we were given cracking views across to North Berwick and the Isle of May. We had the added bonus of seeing one of my favourite birds; eiders too. It doesn’t take long to notice the lighthouse at Elie Ness as we make our way from the sailing club. Built in the early 1900’s to assist in the busy shipping lane and guide sailors safely along the Firth of Forth. These days it is the subject of many photographs and now a listed building.
From the lighthouse we move on toward Lady’s Tower. Built in the 1770’s for Lady Anstruther as a summer house and a private space to change for bathing in the sea! Brrrrrrr, she’s a braver lady than I. The cylindrical stone building has a great vantage point, above the rocks with tall, slim windows; enough to let in light and admire the views but to give enough privacy.
Although we hadn’t walked far (my fault for taking too many photos), the wind had a real chill to it and we decided it was time to head back to the car via a walk across the beach first and then head up to the coast to St Monans.
Another of the East Neuk gems I wish I had visited long ago. It reminded Dude and I of many of our Cornish holidays where we would visit small fishing villages with friendly locals, small picturesque harbours and ice cream. I am sure St Monans gets it’s fair share of visitors in the summer too but if I’m honest I quite liked the peaceful setting in winter.
Only just thawing out from our first stop we arrived at St Monans and thankfully it seemed more sheltered. We had parked not far from what I now know to be the last remaining windmill in Fife. After playing it’s part in salt production in the area it has been restored and is now home to the Coast Watch volunteers. We got chatting to the two volunteers on duty that day and they kindly said we could go in and have a look out from the top. What a brilliant office that is! In return for this insight we made a small donation to the organisation.
I love speaking to people and hearing their stories. These two gentlemen were happy to tell the tales of the windmill and Coast Watch and I’m sure it wasn’t for the first time that day!
Back to the sleepy streets around the harbour and admiring the cottages as we walked along. In years gone by I am sure these streets would have been a hive of activity with fishermen and their families living in the cottages. Not far to travel to the “office.”
By now it was mid afternoon and the tide was out. The boats moored were now beached until the sea water returned to lift them once again and the light was soft and almost warm reminding us that there is not much left of the daylight. Not all of the wee cafes were open (as you’d expect in winter) but some were making the most of the extra seasonal footfall. Just something to remember if you plan to explore the area during the quieter seasons.
We hadn’t left ourselves enough time to explore this charming village properly so there will definitely be a return journey but maybe when we have a bit more daylight. The few hours we did spend have for a winter trip to Elie and St Monans did blow the cob webs away, no doubt about that. However, it was enough time to fall in love with the East Neuk of Fife just that little bit more.