The beautiful East Neuk of Fife nudges out into the Firth of Forth, a line of picturesque villages strung along its coastline. These villages – Crail, Cellardyke, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans, Elie, and Lower Largo – are home to scenic harbours, historic houses, gorgeous beaches and restaurants that offer the freshest seafood.
Twice a year the doors of local artists and designers open to the public during the East Neuk Open Studios event. The Autumn Open Studios runs from 11-12th and 18th – 19th October, from 10.30am to 4.30pm. The Red Balloon Trail will guide you to around 38 different studios where you can view a stunning and broad range of art work from painting, prints and photography to textiles and stained glass.
We spoke to the East Neuk Open Studios team to find out more about the event and which must-sees and hidden gems they recommend.
What do you think makes the East Neuk so inspiring for artists?
The light and the mixture of sea and land – it’s a heady combination! Our artists often live in traditional East Neuk buildings which are quirky and charming, and a great place to work from.
What is special about the East Neuk Open Studios autumn event?
It’s our first ever October open studios, so we are excited about giving new visitors to this area a glimpse into the life and practice of local artists! It’s also a chance to be super-organised and buy some early Christmas presents.
What are your highlights of the East Neuk?
The unique architecture, coastal walks and views, stunning beaches, great cycle networks and top notch restaurants and farm shops!
Can you recommend some ‘must-sees’ for those planning a holiday in the East Neuk area?
Wander along Pittenweem harbour front to the West End; Crail pottery and of course the harbour there; historic Kellie Castle and gardens; Cambo Estate near Kingsbarns (great walking trails and a stunning beach); a drink or smoked salmon bagel at the East Pier Smokehouse and Cafe in St Monans (go up onto their roof terrace and you might see some dolphins swim by!).
If someone was just visiting for one day, what would you suggest they do?
Walk through Lower Largo from the Temple to The Crusoe Hotel for a drink. Visit Cellardyke and look for blue plaques of sea captains and sailor poets. Whilst there grab some fresh mackerel or local lobster at The Haven Restaurant right beside the harbour! Alternatively, get all the family active with courses in kayaking, climbing and archery at East Neuk Outdoors also in Cellardyke. East Neuk is famous for its fish and chips (and all the chip pies are very good). We are rather fond of the Pittenweem Fish Bar on the High Street – it’s take away only so you can eat steaming fresh fish whilst gazing out over the Firth of Forth as the sun goes down!
Which lesser-known sights/attractions would you suggest to visitors?
Visit Adamsons Oatcakes and Kellie Castle Garden (and tea room!). In Elie walk round to Lady Anstruthers Tower and look for garnets in Ruby Bay. Between Elie and St Monans pop in to award-winning Ardross Farm Shop for gourmet goodies. Play nine holes of golf at Anstruther Golf Club.