Undiscovered Scotland: Stories from the 2017 Best Loved Hotels directory
To celebrate the launch of the 2017 Best Loved Hotel & Travel Guide, we are pleased to bring you a series of stories on Undiscovered Britain by leading travel writers.
Fruits Of The Sea
I’m perched on the edge of the old harbour wall in Anstruther, legs swinging as the tide sloshes against the mossy hunks of stone. It’s a child-like pose, but here it’s all about the simple pleasures – sea-gazing, beachcombing and feasting on the best local food. As I breathe in sweet lungfuls of seaweed-scented air, a waft of vinegar tingles on my tongue and my thoughts turn to supper.
Most visitors to Scotland head for the Highlands, but I like to follow those in the know to the historic fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife, jumbles of cottages clinging to the shore on Scotland’s east coast. Once, you could hop from one fishing boat to the next in Anstruther’s harbour; today, the marina is packed with pleasure craft, a reflection of the decline of this area’s fishing industry and gradual gentrification. Yet this corner of the Kingdom of Fife remains one of the Scots’ greatest secrets. They come for the relaxing scenery and to enjoy the fruits of land and sea… especially the sea.
My fish supper is waiting, fried by one of the finest purveyors in town. This time, it’s not from the multi-award-winning Anstruther Fish Bar on the tiny seafront but The Wee Chippy, just along the road, which is favoured by the locals, who queue outside at weekends. Simple flavours. Yet for the past decade the East Neuk has been blossoming into a foodie destination, from chip shops to Michelin-starred restaurants, and everything in between.
These local eateries have a treasure chest to loot on their doorstep at Pittenweem. The eye-pleasing huddle of white cottages, their red pantile roofs and stepped gables revealing the community’s centuries-old link with the Low Countries, is now the East Neuk’s main working port. Here, a fleet of 35 prawn and creel boats offloads its catch from the waters off these rocky shores at the harbour each day, ready to go under the hammer at the Fish Market.
The next morning, I make my way along Pittenweem’s winding alleys to Mid Shore to discover what bounty has been dredged from the deep. Crabs, scallops, lobsters, clams, razorfish, and, of course, the famous Pittenweem prawn – a langoustine the size of a fisherman’s finger. With a haul of this quality, no wonder the Kingdom of Fife is fast becoming the place to dine like royalty.
Simone Kane is a travel writer whose work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines including The Independent on Sunday and National Geographic Traveller Magazine.
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East Neuk of Fife
Anstruther Fish Bar
The Wee Chippy