Travel & Places Other - Destinations

A Visit to Fife"s East Neuk - Anstruther

The road enters Anstruther with a sign announcing the town but strangely without the usual exhortation to "Drive Safely".
I simply followed the main road downhill past houses and a hotel then turned sharp left past a corner house whose walls have been decorated with sea shells (the Buckie House).
On the right is the old Anstruther church.
The road crosses the Dreel Burn then takes a right hand curve until it reaches the roundabout marked with a confusing totem pole of road signs where I turned right.
That took me down the hill to the shore road.
On my first trip here there was a big mass of cloud to the West although the sky was clear towards the East.
The shore road was pretty busy with traffic but I managed to find a single car space in the car park on the East Shore Road by the harbor which I had to pay for.
On leaving the car, the most obvious place to head for was the Western arm of the harbor where I thought I would get some good pictures.
The harbor was well filled, mainly with small yachts and some little power boats, although there were some small boats that are used for lifting and setting creels for lobster and crab.
Across the harbor on the central harbor arm was a small funfair, closed when I was there but probably open in the evenings.
The same arm is home to the local lifeboat station at the top of a slipway, and beside that is a little beach.
Beyond the harbor's Eastern arm, the houses on the shoreline sit on an irregularly shaped embankment protected by low walls which fall onto a rocky shore.
I strolled around the harbor taking lots of pictures and passed the Scottish Fisheries Museum (opposite the lifeboat station) which looks deceptively small until you walk along the road and see the fronts of the big workshops attached to the museum.
I hadn't come to visit the museum, but promised myself that I would return and see it another day as my daughter had recommended it after she had been there with her husband and seven year old son.
The need for refreshment was getting the better of me and I wandered past what was advertised as the best fish and chip shop in Scotland and has awards to prove it.
My daughter says that it really is as good as it says for she has tried their fish suppers.
I however wandered on, past a pub, and ice cream parlor and restaurant to finish up at a small cafe where I obtained a very good cup of coffee and a very sweet cake which I consumed at the tables on the pavement while watching the world go by.
I walked along towards the other end of the town, Wester Anstruther.
A cobbled road with a row of old terraced houses had a wall on the sea side with stones sticking out so that I could climb up onto the top and look over the beach at the mouth of the Dreel Burn which separates Easter and Wester Anstruther.
The burn can be crossed at low tide by stepping stones on the beach.
I crossed them and climbed the steps into a narrow lane that leads to the old churchyard and to the main road from Pittenweem and then recrossed just for the novelty of it.
I wandered up through some of the narrow twisting lanes with odd names such as Burial Brae, Cunzie Street and Cards Wynd just to see where they led me.
When I returned to the town some 2 months later, I took a slightly different route through through the rolling Fife countryside of fields and copses but the approach to the town past the Dreel Burn was the same as before.
I was lucky to find a parking spot on the Shore Road.
The sky was heavily overcast and it was windy but not cold when I left the car and headed over to the Western harbor arm where a man was pressure hosing his creels that were piled up against the harbor wall.
He told me that the season hadn't finished yet and he would be out again a few more times to set his creels before the Winter.
Lobsters tend not to feed during the colder weather and the seas can be rough.
The harbor was again full of pleasure yachts and power boats, some out of the water on the quayside where the funfair had been earlier that year.
At the far side of the harbor was a large old fashioned fishing boat registered BB-07.
When I looked up this registration, I found that the boat was registered in Bremen which really surprised me since it had Kirkcaldy painted on the stern.
I walked along to the old churchyard and took photos of the old gravestones and the view of the shore road with all the shops, pubs and restaurants before walking up past the Buckie House and back across the old bridge which was built across the Dreel Burn in 1630 and rebuilt in 1795 according to the stone plaque on the parapet.
Shortly after the bridge is another house (part of the Smugglers Inn?) whose gable end has been covered with sea shells like the Buckie House, but sadly not in such good repair.
The pavement disappears dangerously at the Smugglers Inn, (named as a reminder that smuggling was once a major industry here) to reappear once you get round the hotel that juts out into the busy road.
The next right turn at the roundabout took me back down the brae past the Royal Hotel to the Shore Road.
The seaside smell of rotting kelp and seaweed was really strong here and mounds of the stuff were piled up on the sandy beach by the unseasonally warm and strong Southerly winds.
Not unpleasant to my nose, but strong and very distinctive.
As I sauntered along the shore road past the weathered red sandstone of the Murray Library and past the shops, my eye was caught by Lisa's Ice Cream Parlor.
The window frames are painted a garish pink and there is a huge plastic ice cream cone with a chocolate flake outside the door.
In the window is an even bigger model of an ice cream with raspberry topping.
In case you hadn't got the message, there is a board outside listing the ice cream flavors and a sign saying "ice cream" beside the optimistically (given the weather and season) placed pink topped tables and chairs on the pavement.
I loved it.
Seaside kitsch at its best! When I reached the Fife Fisheries Museum I crossed the road to look more closely at the lifeboat station and take pictures from the slipway.
Through the glass panes of the roller doors of the station, I could just see how big the lifeboat is.
Quite an impressive piece of kit and a reminder of the dangers of making your living from the sea.
It was starting to get dark, so I went back to the COAST cafe (a remarkably similar name to large coffee franchise) for another excellent coffee before I hit the road.
I promised myself the last time I was here that I would go into the museum.
I still haven't done thatas again I haven't had time.
I really must get to Anstruther earlier in the day and go to the museum and also the lifeboat station (free to visit) rather than wandering through the fascinating narrow streets and lanes looking at bits of architectural history.
I shall write more on this fascinating town in another article once I have been to the museum and lifeboat station, and also cover some of the stories about the town of tea clipper captains, an exotic bride, James V King of Scots, Robert Louis Stevenson and Balmerino Abbey.

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