Wullie Davidson: Bus Pass Ramblings – Crail to Anstruther
15 july 2021 – East Neuk of Fife
Today’s trip would take me to what’s known as the ‘east neuk of Fife’, ‘neuk’ being an old Scots word for ‘corner’. The 0820 bus from Buchanan St arrived at St Andrews at 1105. From there, I got a bus to Crail, which took 34 minutes.
Crail is one of the most picturesque villages in Scotland. With sunny weather expected, I anticipated getting some good photos, but my visit coincided with a low tide, so it wasn’t as good as I was hoping for. From Crail, I’d walk 4.25 miles along the recently created Fife coastal path, to Anstruther, visiting the Caiplie caves en route. Despite living in Scotland all my life, I’d never actually heard of these caves, and the strange rock formation adjacent to them, until I did a bit of research for the trip.
Fife Coastal Walk
The Fife coastal walk stretches all the way around the Fife coast. At more than 100 miles, it’s longer than the better known West Highland Way. The section between Crail and Anstruther is just 4.25 miles, perfect for a day out for this old timer.
The Caiplie Caves
The Caiplie caves are about half way betwen Crail and Anstruther. They’re quite small, the deepest one going in about 40 feet. No doubt, primitive man made use of them while foraging on the shore, but the only information I managed to find about this was that human bones had been found, but no information about their age.
The caves were used by early Christians, and someone has gone to the considerable trouble of carving windows into the walls, to let in more light. Adjacent to the caves is a weird looking rock formation, about 40 feet high, the end of which looks uncannily like a human head.
Before you arrive at Anstruther, you come to the village of Cellardyke, which is actually older than Anstruther. However, over the years, Anstruther has sprawled to such an extent that Cellardyke has become its eastern suburb, and there’s no longer a clear distinction between the two settlements. Both were founded on the fishing industry.
Anstruther is a proper, old fashioned touristy town, with lots of fish and chip shops, ice cream shops and cafes. But, it manages to be a bit more classy than most. One of the fish and chip shops has won best in Scotland four times, and best in UK once. I had intended sampling their fish and chips, but hot weather always seems to suppress my appetite. Also, there was a queue of customers on the pavement outside the shop, which I didn’t fancy joining.
Museum of the History of the Scottish Fishing Industry
There’s a museum of the history of the Scottish fishing industry, which gets lots of five star reviews on Tripadvisor. Costs £9. With the Covid situation, you now have to book a time slot online, and I wondered how many potential visitors would be put off by this. I quite like museums, but not enough to go through the hassle of booking a time slot online.
The Isle of May
(Can just spot Isle of May in the background)
There’s also a boat, the May Princess, that takes visitors to the Isle of May bird sanctuary, five miles to the south. The trip lasts 4 to 5 hours, with 2 to 3 hours on the island. The island has up to 200,000 birds, almost half of them puffins, and a permanent colony of a few hundred seals. The boat I saw returning was pretty full, so business looks good during the current good spell of weather. At £34 a trip, and capacity for up to 100 passengers, they’ll be hoping the good spell of weather lasts a bit longer.
Bus from Anstruther to Edinburgh
The bus back from Anstruther to Edinburgh took two and a half hours, and seemed to go through half the towns in Fife, but I liked this day out enough to do it again some time, maybe going in the other direction, from Anstruther to Crail. I’ll just have to find a website that lets me know when the tide will be in.
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