Over the past few years we’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the world and have some amazing experiences, but once in a while there’s a place that jumps out from the rest as something uniquely special. For us, the stunning coastal region known as the Kingdom of Fife stole our hearts.
Fife is the kind of place that’s overflowing with charm, a coastline that stretches for miles (117 of them!), rolling hills and quaint fishing villages around every corner. At times it felt like we were on a beach holiday, others like we’d gone back in time as we walked the most cobblestone-y cobblestones we’ve ever seen.
We were lucky enough to spend 5 amazing days exploring the region and it was a real task to narrow down the highlights of our trip! In no particular order, here are our top 5 highlights:
1) The Food Scene
Scotland has some of the most amazing food, service and quality we’ve ever had and our Fife experience took things to a new level. Whether it was a quick pit stop for coffee or a six course degustation, every meal was on point. We can’t mention the Fife food scene without talking about the Anstruther Fish Bar – home to the best fish and chips in Britain! As Kiwis we grew up eating fish and chips often, so naturally we thought we’d enjoy the nostalgia more than anything. Wrong! There’s a reason this place often has lines out the door and visits from red carpet stars. The battered fish was so fresh with just the right amount of oil and yet still so crunchy. It went down an absolute treat with an icy cold can of Irn Bru, possibly the most Scottish we’ll ever feel.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is The Newport, situated on the southern bank of the River Tay. An award-winning, fine dining restaurant where we indulged in a six course degustation menu. Each course was presented like a delicate piece of art and was made from unique local ingredients. If you’re wondering whether it tasted as good as it looked, the answer is yes! This was one of our favourite gastronomic experiences in the world, topped off with a sunset across the river. Everything about the food, the view and the atmosphere was perfection.
Some of our other favourites include:
2. The Coastline
The Fife Coastal Path stretches for 117 miles from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay and is Scotland’s longest continuous path. We didn’t pack hiking boots so decided to stop on the most picturesque stretch between Elie and St Monans, fortunately with the sun beaming down on us. There seemed to be surprises around every corner so we spent hours meandering down the coastal path taking in the sun, sea and sites – with our favourites being The Elie Lighthouse and Lady Janet Anstruther's Tower.
You know when you get home from a holiday and feel like you need another holiday to recover from your holiday? Scotland is one of the few places we’ve been where we didn’t feel that way. We got to see and experience so much and yet it is such a relaxed place.
3. Walking Alpacas
When we found out you can walk Alpacas in Fife we instantly said “alpaca my bags!”. We visited Claireville Alpaca Farm for 45 minutes of absolute madness with Lightening and Bambi! We took them on a leisurely stroll before attempting to give them some lunch, it was without a doubt one of the most hilarious experiences we’ve ever had and we quickly learned that alpacas are hilarious characters, full of personality and so friendly.
Llamas have a bit of a bad reputation for spitting, not alpacas, which we were pleased to hear! As if it couldn’t get any better, after our walk we were introduced to the baby alpacas (who we genuinely considered kidnapping) and Gucci, the Black Nose Sheep who is absolutely crazy. It was one of those completely random and unexpected experiences of our travels so far, an afternoon that we’ll never forget.
4. St Andrews
Being terrible golfers we weren’t sure if we would find much else to do in ‘the home of golf’ but the seaside town of St Andrews is so much more than beautifully manicured golf courses. It’s rich with history, tales as old as time, architecture that blew our minds and St Andrews University, the oldest and most prestigious in Scotland.
Our visit happened to coincide with graduation so there was an exciting buzz about the University grounds and the town as a whole. Careful not to get caught up in the procession we made our way to St Andrews Cathedral, we’ve seen a lot of ruins in our time but none as unique as these. To get an even better view we climbed the St Rules Tower, a narrow spiral staircase with 156 teeny tiny steps, the views from the top across the beach, pier, ruins, castle and town left us speechless.
5. Inchcolm Island
Inchcolm is a small island just a short ferry ride from North Queensferry, famous for it’s well preserved abbey, beaches and birdlife. We hopped aboard the Maid of the Forth and set sail for our 3-hour landing trip, instantly dwarfed by the cantilevered Forth Bridge. The ferry ride alone was the perfect way to see the Scottish skyline from a different perspective. We spent the trip over spotting seals, listening to the sounds of the waves and on-board commentary along the way.
It wasn’t long before we were disembarking onto what felt like a moody movie scene, complete with ominous squawking seagulls circling overhead. It was nesting season, which made things even more exciting! We were each given a long bamboo stick to hold above our heads in case we got too close, seagulls go for the highest point they can see if you get too close to their young, so as long as we held them at a point higher than our heads we were told we’d be fine. Not knowing whether we were going to be showered in ‘good luck’ by the gulls as we made our way towards the abbey just added to the adventure for us!
We spent the next hour getting lost, climbing medieval staircases of the Abbey and trying to wrap our heads around how these incredible structures are still standing, the preservation work is beyond impressive.
The Kingdom of Fife stole our hearts. It’s an incredibly special part of the world that will always feel like a home away from home for us.
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