Fife is one of the most beautiful areas in East Scotland along the sea and it is little more than an hour driving from Edinburgh. It is a perfect destination for a weekend or for a longer break.
The five lands of Scotland expect the traveler linked one to another one by paths and cliffs. The air is cold, but when finally the sun is shining and the sky is clear the colours in Fife are inspiring.
Have you ever visited the Italian Cinque Terre?
I think the similarities between the five villages of Fife and Cinque Terre in Italy are enormous (read the dedicated post about The Cinque Terre):
In Scotland and Italy you have five wonderful fishermen villages.
One connected to the other by a beautiful coastal path, offering breathtaking views along the way and surrounded by wonderful landscapes.
Both Fife and Cinque Terre offer inspiration to artists and travellers from centuries: certainly two places to visit before to die.
Your best place to make base to visit Fife will be Crail, with its houses that run downhill to the squared breakwater at the bottom of this picturesque fishermen's village.
The heart of Crail is certainly its harbour, but Crail hides also a beautiful main street, tree lined and quiet, along which to walk.
And if you walk up to the top of the village you will enjoy a fantastic panorama, above the red roofs of Crail you can enjoy the sun rising behind the little Isle of May in front of Crail's Harbour.
If you love birdwatching or you just have time for a extra trip, the Isle of May, today a bird sanctuary, makes for a wonderful day trip.
The area of Fife where these beautiful Scottish five villages are located is called East Neuk.
Neuk is the Scots word for nook or corner, and the East Neuk is generally accepted to comprise the fishing villages of the most northerly part of the Firth of Forth: Crail, Anstruther (and Cellardyke), Pittenweem, St Monans, Elie.
Theoretically you can walk all the way from Crail to Elie, the two furthest villages in one day, but if you don't want to walk so much here is the best part of the walk I absolutely recommend you doing.
Start your walk from the old harbor of Cellardyke, beaten by a timid sun, the village is to the immediate east of Anstruther (the two effectively being conjoined).
Cellardyke is just a line of old and beautiful cottages surrounded by a large harbour once busy with fishermen boats.
Following the main street lined by cottages you arrive to Anstruther in less then fifteen minutes.
Here there is a beautiful beach to enjoy, surrounded by stone cottages and overlooked by the bell tower of the church.
At Anstruther the trail continues along the beach and then on the hills overlooking the sea towards Pittenweem.
Before to get to the old mill and then the wide bay just outside Pittenweem, near the fish market, walk on the breakwater and enjoy the view of the most beautiful and ancient cottages.
Pittenweem is the home of many skilled artists. Small houses have been turned into beautiful and small art galleries with lot of character.
Many artists meet in Pittenweem in the summer for a great art festival, and when the festival ends many leave, but a few remain here for the following years and for the rest of their lives.
If you continue walking along the coastal path towards the ancient fishermen's village of St Monans, you will notice more houses turned in small art galleries.
After the rocky beach, it is the old mill, well preserved, almost intact , reminiscent of bygone days. In front stands a long row of white fishermen cottages and this is St. Monans.
Here the path opens into the harbor's horseshoe. The cottages are small and colorful, on narrow lanes battered by the strong wind.
Then just outside the village, along the sea, there is St Monans' church, alone in a large green in front of the sea.
St moinans Church is surrounded by a bed of men and women who rest forever listening to the sound of the waves. The church inside is bare, but a nice cup of hot coffee after Sunday mass warms the heart more than many frescoes. And along with the cup so many smiles , so many words , so much interest for the traveler who has left his country to visit the church of St Monans and this seems incredible to many.
Shortly after St Monans' Church are the ruins of an ancient castle overlooking the sea. TIf you are sufficiently tired of you walk you can return to Pittenweem among the many art galleries.
In Pittenweem the art galleries are homes, in some cases, livingrooms, kitchens , bedrooms and even toilets. Here the artist presents his art at his home. And this art is sincere, done with the heart. Not everything is for sale , because from some creations the artist can no longer separate , they are now his daughters.
If you have another beautiful sunny day to spend in Fife, .this time you should start your walk from Pittenweem.
The path to St Monans is so beautiful and scenic that you would not mind doing it again but today you can keep going and set off to Elie.
Back in front of the church and then to the ruins of the castle yesterday , along with the dark and the rain, you will keep going along the coast and cross a long sandy beach, but then the Lady 's Tower in the distance marks that Elie is near.
Elie is amazing if you're lucky enough to see it at low tide . The beach under the sun in the winter assumes a beautiful amber color and the light is reflected on the stone wall that prevents the sea to reach the beautiful white cottages .
Elie in reality is made of two villages: Elie and Earlsferry.
Earlsferry, the older of the two villages, was first settled in time immemorial. It is said that MacDuff, the Earl of Fife, crossed the Forth here in 1054 while fleeing from King Macbeth.
Today Elie is a very charming village with beautiful cottages and a wonderful beach. At low tide in a sunny day the panorama is absolutely fantastic (see the photo at the top of this post).
The sand has a special red colour and the beautiful white cottages all around make a wonderful contrast.
...and if you still have energies, finish your walk at Elie lighthouse, more great views to enjoy on the way.
The last day in the land of Fife is dedicated to St. Andrews but this is another post...
Want to read more about the Scottish Isles?
Click here to read more about Scotland and the Scottish Isles.
Want to read about the Italian Cinqueterre after having discovered the Scottish ones?
Click here to read about Cinque Terre - The five most inspiring fishermen villages in Italy.