November has arrived, bringing with it autumn. As the long evenings set, students begin curling up with a hot chocolate and a book, rather than venturing into a cold autumnal day wrapped in multiple layers of scarves. However, autumn in Fife is beautiful, and with so much to see and do, not only in St Andrews, it is not to be missed. So often, with deadlines looming and seemingly endless assignments, we get caught in a bubble of stress and forget anything exists outside of St Andrews. And yet, prepare yourself, it does! Hopping on the number 95 bus, as I did last weekend, to explore the coastal towns south of St Andrews, is a great way to de-stress and enjoy a day away from the bubble. The bus runs between St Andrews and Leven, and at just over eight pounds for a day ticket, it proves to be an in-expensive and thoroughly enjoyable day out.
On the journey from St Andrews to the first town, Crail, you have a wonderful view of the countryside and coastline. With its family run butchers, delicatessens and vegetable shop, Crail feels like it is set back in time. The honey colored cottages, and cobbled lanes exude a sense of timelessness, and Jane Austen characters would not be out of place. The town has many galleries, which exhibit local skill and handicraft. Crail Pottery, a family run pottery, sells handmade ceramic cups and saucers, pitchers and milk jugs, decorated with scenes of local fishing boats. If you are looking for Christmas presents, you will be sure to find something. Although a small piece might set you back eight pounds, everything is unique. There are also a number of cute cafes in Crail. The Honey Pot Tearoom, which serves breakfast, lunch and tea is particularly worth visiting. The café sources its produce locally and many of their yummy treats are homemade, including their cakes and scones. Their scones, laden with homemade strawberry jam, are particularly delicious. I would heartily recommend them to all who love a cream tea!
Next, journey to Anstruther, a bustling and busy town with a vibrant atmosphere. Although renowned for its fish and chips, with even Camilla Parker Bowles indulging in a takeaway, there are other places to eat and enjoy a view of the harbor. The Boathouse is a quirky combination of a café, pub and restaurant, and is the perfect place to stop for a morning rejuvenator. Cozy up in a large leather armchair with a book, and treat yourself to a cappuccino. Surrounded by locals, you get a real sense of the local way of life, as well as enjoying a pretty view of the sea. Anstruther is also abundant with quaint shops, which sell local produce and gifts. Selling artwork, furniture, jewelry and homely gifts, Halcyon gallery is worth a visit. Their Christmas range is extensive, so if you are looking for presents, this is the perfect place.
Pittenweem is the next stop, and of all the coastal towns, it is my favorite. The streets are lined with beautiful honey colored cottages, many of which are holiday cottages. The town also has a pretty stone church, and boasts an ancient cave that can be visited. If you like modern art, the sculptural sandstone and slate rock above the cave is worth a look. The harbor is very picturesque, and it is lovely to take a stroll along it and enjoy the seafront. If you keep walking you will reach the coastal path and the surrounding countryside. A must visit is the famous chocolate shop, which not only sells artisan chocolate, but also houses The Cocoa Tree café, which offers a gorgeous array of yummy treats. If it is a little too early for chocolate (although I never think so!), then a savory warm Goat’s Cheese Salad might tempt you. However, if it is chocolate you are after, you will not be disappointed! You will have a hard choice between rich chocolate gateaux, crepes with hot chocolate sauce, and Brussels waffles with maple syrup and chocolate sauce. The list is endless. The luxury hot chocolate is delicious, and you can indulge in both dark and white cocoa drinks, as well as orange or hazelnut. The atmosphere of the café, with its aroma of chocolate and cinnamon, and wood burner giving out warmth, is inviting and cozy.
So embrace Fife on a cold autumnal day. Experience the pretty coastal towns, their shops and galleries. For those who still feel like curling up with a hot chocolate and a book, just think, you could do so in a large leather armchair beside an open fire in one of the local coastal tearooms. That, at least, must be a little enticing.
Images sourced from Pinterest.