In the first installment of her new mini-series ‘Fife Fridays’, Katie Weinsheimer takes us on a day trip to the wee coastal towns of Crail and Pittenweem.
As we approach Independent Learning Week and the halfway mark of the semester, it is easy to feel like time is slipping away. At the beginning of the semester it is easy to make abstract, grand travel plans that never seem to pan out. There is always something in the way of that trip to Rome, whether it be flights or accommodation are too expensive, or there is an event in the Bubble that you want to go to. But, there is a way to fix the travel bug without breaking the bank or being away from our beloved uni for too long: day trips.
Scotland is so beautiful and has so much to offer if only one looks for it. It can be so easy to want to travel the world and ignore our own backyard; however, it is my goal in this mini-series to show you how fun and easy day tripping around Scotland can be. Like a lot of students, I do not have class on Fridays, so this semester I have dedicated my Fridays to the art of day tripping. This article will be the first of four detailing my adventures around Fife (and slightly outside of it). I hope this will be helpful in showing you how accessible travel can be, even for those on a budget or who are logistically challenged.
For my first Friday adventure, my three friends and I went to Crail and Pittenweem. Honestly, this is one of the easiest trips you can take because it is all on one line, no transfers required. We arrived at the St. Andrews bus depot at 10:00 and got on the 95 bus to Leven. When you buy your ticket on the bus, purchase a Fife day rider student pass. You will need to show the driver your matric card, but then your all-day pass around Fife is only £ 7.50. The 95 line snakes along the Fife coast, so make sure to pick a seat where you can get good views of the landscapes as the bus drives by. Keep your paper ticket as this is your pass to get on and off the bus all day. Also, be sure to check bus times before you leave if you plan to take this trip on the weekends because the buses have a slightly different schedule. You can check fares and times, as well as plan a trip on the Stagecoach website. If you are feeling super adventurous, you could also turn the 30 minute bus to Crail and subsequent 20 minute bus from Crail to Pittenweem into a hike along the Fife coastal path, but that would be a day-long hike.
Crail is about 30 minutes by bus and absolutely worth checking out. We got off the bus just outside of town (although there is also a stop in town too) and began to wander. I think one of the most beautiful things about these small Scottish towns is the small alleys and winding streets.
We made our way to main street, passing a variety of small stores, and stopped in Julia’s Cafe (36 High St, Crail, Anstruther KY10 3RB). The cafe is very small and looks almost as though someone converted their house into a bakery and coffee shop. It is very bare-bones, but has a light, calming atmosphere. I got a pot of tea (what else does one do get rid of the cold?) and a blueberry scone with clotted cream. The tea was tea, but the scone was amazing. It was filled with blueberries, buttery, but not too heavy, and perfectly moist.
After Julia’s, we picked a side street and began to wander once again, where we found ourselves at Crail Pottery (75 Nethergate, Crail, Anstruther KY10 3TX). Crail Pottery is a pottery collective based in Crail that has a long history of Scottish craftsmanship. All of the pottery was lovely, but I especially liked the Scottish thistle and Crail designs of the cups and plates in the showroom above the workshop. My friends and I decided that we needed to come back around Christmas time.
After Crail Pottery, we went down to a park on a cliff overlooking the Crail coast. We swang on a swing set and enjoyed the views for a while. It was one of those moments where I was simply in awe of the beauty of Scotland. The wind was rather biting that day, so we decided we should move on to our next town, Pittenweem.
Pittenweem is about 20 minutes south of Crail, also along the Fife coast. It is actually past Anstruther, though we skipped Anstruther on this trip (If you want some advice about Anstruther, check out this previous article: Anstruther: More than Fish and Chips). The reason we skipped quintessential Fife towns like East Neuk and Anstruther for smaller Pittenweem has to do with one thing: hot chocolate.
You see, Pittenweem is home to Pittenweem Chocolate Company and its adjoining Cocoa Tree Cafe, which as the richest hot chocolate I have ever experienced. I will admit that the bus stop for Pittenweem, a little outside the town and a five minute walk from the high street, can be a bit disorienting; however, if you walk straight towards the town and follow signs for the high street, it is not too complicated. Once we found the high street, it was easy to find Cocoa Tree Cafe (9 High St, Pittenweem, Anstruther KY10 2LA). As you walk into the cafe, the first part is a chocolate storefront. You might be tempted to stop here, but keep going back and you will reach the cafe. The cafe has a wide selection of toasties, crepes, and soups to choose from, but the crowning jewel is the hot chocolate. While you can choose between milk, white and dark, or a flavour like peppermint or caramel, I would suggest going with the classic milk chocolate. The hot chocolate tasted almost as though I was drinking melted milk chocolate, though slightly creamier. The selection of chocolate desserts looked tempting, although I was already full from the rich hot chocolate.
After Cocoa Tree Cafe, we wandered around Pittenweem and once again found ourselves by the water. However, instead of a park, we were at a wharf. I enjoyed wandering the streets along the wharf and just looking at the ships in the harbor and the hustle and bustle surrounding the area. By this time it was about 16:00 so we decided to make our way back to St Andrews. This bus was a 95 express and took us a slightly different, more countryside route, but still wowed me with the Scottish views.
I hope this was entertaining and helpful. Tune in soon for the next installment of Fife Fridays wherein I venture outside of Fife, but still in East Scotland, and my adventure to St Fillans turns into a bit of a misadventure!