Life in Fife: A cold, coastal stroll in Elie

Happy new year, everyone!

We rang in 2019 with bad dancing and the inevitability of colder months to come. Two weeks later, we sat at the kitchen table, enjoying the bright light reaching through the sparse branches behind our house. It looked warm outside. But on consulting the forecast, we packed hats and gloves alongside our picnic lunch and then headed east along the Fife coast.

We’ve lived here now for over six months, and I’m still not bored of it.

Every time I reach the shore, or manage to attain height on the land, I look back across to Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat and can’t fathom how we lived in the city for so long. I was mentioning this briefly to a colleague recently and she said, ‘Your partner works in Dundee?! Well, that explains why you live in Fife.’ I didn’t have the depth of words, nor the energy after a tiring week, to explain that although our Fife town was halfway, that was indeed only half the reason we’d migrated out here.

Elie Ness Lighthouse through the grass

Our weekends now are filled with lazy, quiet mornings followed by afternoon trips around the region, or sometimes further north. Our favourite haunts are Culross, Falkland (see my Instagram stories for more from these postcard places) and very recently the Dunfermline Carnegie Library, which is a thing of architectural beauty. Yet this Sunday, we’d devised something different, based on beautiful images I’d seen circulating digitally–and a love of lighthouses.

Elie is, in my mind, the first true ‘east neuk’ town you’ll encounter…

…on the road from Edinburgh towards the point of Fife’s craggy peninsula. Like all of these towns, its streets speak of centuries of harbour history; beaches bustling with day trippers; and the architectural remnants of the rich. Although not quite as storybook as Crail (here’s an example!) you could wander through the lanes of Elie for lifetimes in the shadow of the locals’ steps before you.

Towards Lady Anstruther house in Elie, Fife

Today we were following the coast south, parking at Ruby Bay (map link) to picnic before layering up in fleeces and down jackets — despite the sun — to tackle the wind. The Fife coastal path weaves by the cliffs towards tiny Elie Ness lighthouse, a dinky castellated diamond of a beacon completed in 1908, and automated (quite late, for Scottish lighthouse standards) in 2010. Even a light as small as this does something to satisfy my rather strange obsession with these engineering marvels, and further along the shoreline, there lies another similarly bijou structure.

Lady’s Tower is but a breath of a ruin of what the summerhouse must have been…

…back when Lady Janet Anstruther bathed in the waters nearby. Dating from the 1770s, its rocks nevertheless are still reminiscent of rubies when they are soaked in sunlight; it’s still a popular spot for walkers and selfie-takers today. As the shoreline continues, the golden sand split by dark patches of weed, in the distance you can make out St Monans (which was our next stop, for a quick cup of coffee).

Elie Ness Lighthouse through the grass

Walks like this are what punctuate my week; the exclamation marks to the ellipses of my weekdays. It’s a joy that, despite Scotland generally having easy access from city to countryside, strolls like this are even closer to my doorstep than ever.

How do you brighten up cold January weekends?

One thought on “Life in Fife: A cold, coastal stroll in Elie

  1. I don’t always love living out of Edinburgh and commuting in (#scotrail) but our slow pace lifestyle in Stirling is so lovely for so many of the reasons you’ve mentioned! I love days of woodland walks, and brunching in a wee cafe in Dunblane, or something. It’s great!

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