Jewel in Fife

St. Andrews is set in one of the most beautiful counties in Scotland: Fife. It  is often referred to as the Kingdom of Fife, which can be traced back to Pictish times (600-800 AD), when the area they controlled was divided into 7 kingdoms.

Getting to Fife from the north and south both require crossing big bridges, since the county is bordered on the North by the Firth of Tay (from Dundee), and to the south by the Firth of Forth (from Edinburgh). The county extends inland to the Ochil Hills, and to Perth in the north. More industrialized are towns are in the southwestern part of Fife, but so is Dunfermline, which contains impressive ruins of an Abbey founded in 1128 on the grounds of an older monastery. The ruins are well-preserved and explained. A number of Scottish royalty are also buried here.

The sea and sky dominate the town, sets its mood, and holds secrets of its history. The fact that is sits on the eastern edge of the pastoral, gentle and largely rural county of Fife enhances its attraction. The East Neuk of Fife — the eastern part of the county which bulges out into the North Sea was long known for its fishing industry, which survives on a small-scale today.

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Rocks jut out into the Sea near the East Sands.

In the summer, it gets some of the best, brightest and longest days in all of Britain. In a recent summer, the unusual warmth of the day caused that unique and creepy phenomenon of a haar in the evening where swirls of thick fog literally rolled into town as the warm air collided with the cold water of the North Sea.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is barely visible through the thick fog, called a haar.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is barely visible through the thick fog, called a haar.

While St. Andrews is my favorite spot in Fife, they are many other fine places to visit: Falkland Palace, Kellie Castle (castle is an exaggeration but it is a lovely house and has beautiful gardens), Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse (Edwardian with gardens), Ravenscriag Castle (substantial ruins), Culross Abbey (substantial ruin) and Culross Village. A place I really like is the Secret Bunker, which was used during World War II for code operations, but I’m a WWII buff.

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