Thursday, 25 August 2016

Exploring St Andrews & the East Neuk

Of all the places in Scotland I've visited over the years, the Kingdom of Fife remains a firm favourite. St Andrews and the East Neuk in particular have so much to offer! Being the place "where Kate met Wills", as well as the home of golf, with over 50 courses in the area, St Andrews is becoming more and more popular with tourists and students alike. Even if golf and Royal romance aren't your thing, there's loads of stuff worth roadtripping for!


Anstruther

The East Neuk is basically a coastal road that takes you through one picturesque fishing village after another. Anstruther is the biggest, and my top pick of them all! I have fond memories of family days out, sharing warm donuts fresh from a van by the harbour! The van wasn't there on our recent visit but there was plenty other fairground attractions. Take a stroll along the pier before tucking into award winning fish and chips from Anstruther Fish Bar. 


Kingsbarns Distillery

Next to my Grandma's old house, there was a derelict farm building. The windows were always smashed, the stone walls were permanently graffiti-ed, a random broken ice cream freezer sat in the middle of the horse mill and there was always empty bottles and other remnants of teenage parties! As kids we used to play in the doocot, climbing on things we probably shouldn't be climbing on, doing my best to avoid the spiders and getting spooked by The Witch* who'd make creepy noises from the other end of the building! (My mother*)

Recently the Witch's House has been transformed into the brand new, up and coming Kingsbarns Distillery - surprisingly the only one in the area! We've been meaning to visit since they opened and finally got to do a tour! It was really surreal to see it looking to nice and updated. Even the roads outside have changed - the wishing well that used to hide in overgrown bushes is now pride of place on the path to the entrance. We took the one hour tour for £10 and learned all about the whiskey making process. As they're so new, their own whiskey won't be ready for a few years, but you do get a taste of their new make spirit and a Wemyss malt at the end of the tour.

Take a short drive from St Andrews and find the distillery just past the village of Kingsbarns, within walking distance from the Cambo Estate. The café and shop are open to the public even if you don't fancy the tour!


Ice Cream - Luvians v Janettas

You absolutely cannot visit St Andrews and not try Irn Bru sorbet at Luvians! I've been obsessed with it pretty much my entire life. All their sorbets are worth the brain freeze to be honest, and the creme brulee ice cream is a winner too. (You want the café, not the bottle shop... although that's worth a look too if you're into fine wines and craft beer!)

While Luvians doesn't look like much from outside and could do with an update, Janettas resembles a cool, pastel coloured fifties style diner. But, in my unpopular opinion, the gelateria is all style and no substance. For a start, I ordered the Snickers and toffee fudge ice cream and got Snickers and chocolate brownie. At least get my order right - I hate chocolate ice cream! (But ate it anyway, just to make sure.) The irn bru offerings here lack flavour and don't even come close to Luvians. They gain a point for toppings though - hello Reese's peanut butter chips!


St Andrews Castle & Cathedral

Just the town itself is so lovely in St Andrews, with its mixture of ancient ruins and pretty cottages. Have this thing with doors? You'll love it here. Over the years, more high street chains have started to pop up on the cobbled streets of the town centre, but it still has its fair share of independents. A number of quirky gift shops and new restaurants have appeared, but I was glad to see the old sweetie shop and Bonkers still on the go!

Gordon and I spent a day exploring the ruins of St Andrews cathedral and wondering round the castle, discovering the history of the town and the wars of Scottish Independence! (Who'd have thought we'd vote no, eh?) The cathedral tower is worth the steep climb for the view from the top! The attractions are mainly outdoors based so ideally you want to pick a sunny day to explore. Save money by buying a ticket for both together!


The Scottish Deer Centre

Another one I remembered from childhood! Over 14 species of deer call the centre their home in Cupar, alongside lynx, a wild cat, red fox and some cheeky otters! They do daily Birds of Prey displays and guided tours and if you visit at the right time you'll see the rangers feed the wolf pack! As we visited on a rainy day, about an hour before closing, we missed all of the above but pretty much had the park to ourselves to wonder around meeting all the different critters. The till was switched off by the time we got there so they actually let us in without paying! We were disappointed that neither the bear or the wolves came out to play, but we can't really complain when we got in for free.

There's a huge gift shop, Edinburgh woollen mill and whiskey store on site as well as the adventure playground, a café and picnic tables. Perfect for a day out with little ones!


Where to Eat

I highly recommend a trip to Forgans, Mitchells, Balgove Larder and The Dolls House - all in St Andrews! I'm sure there are many other must visits but these are just the ones I've tried and tested so far. Look out for Dinner Stories reviews of Forgans and the Balgove Night Market - NOW LIVE!

Have you ever visited the Kingdom of Fife?
Whats your favourite things to do there?

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