Spotlight on Crail

The scenic East Neuk of Fife is home to some beautiful seaside villages, such as the picturesque village of Crail.  As part of our focus on Fife this month, we have interviewed Susan McNaughton, social media manager for the Crail Food Festival and owner of Sandcastle Cottage, to find out her top tips for visiting Crail and more about the festival.

Crail Harbour, credit Susan McNaughton

Crail Harbour, credit Susan McNaughton

What are your top three places to visit?
In the village of Crail, no visit would be complete without a trip to the local butchers, JB Penman.  Keith and Caroline and their staff provide an excellent service and the quality of the meat there is outstanding.  Self-catering doesn’t get much easier than ordering a fine piece of sirloin or fillet steak and preparing it very simply.

Second on our list would be the Crail Museum – a tiny museum staffed by volunteers from the local community, where each year there’s a different exhibition about life and history of the village.  We love delving back into the history of the village and finding out about the people who used to live here.

Third, but definitely not last on the list would be a visit to the Honeypot Cafe in the village.  Since their arrival in the village five years ago, Graham and Edna have done so much to make visitors welcome and Edna bakes the best cheese scones you’ll find in Fife!

What is your favourite thing about Crail?
I’ve been visiting Crail regularly since 1992, and I really love the wide open views you get when you wander down to Roome Bay.  The sense of well-being which you get from being beside the sea, no matter the weather, is my favourite thing.

Sunset over Roome Bay, credit Susan McNaughton

Sunset over Roome Bay, credit Susan McNaughton

Do you have a tip for something to do or see in the area that visitors wouldn’t find in a guidebook?
In the autumn and winter months, you don’t have to get up too early to catch the sunrise – but sometimes the sunrises are spectacular, and Roome Bay is the place to see them from.  One of the residents in Crail is an authority on wildlife with a particular interest in monitoring the many species of birds which migrate through our part of the country, and it’s great to be able to spot some of the birds he mentions in his weekly Wild Crail news featured in the village newsletter, ‘About Crail’.

What is your favourite walk in Crail?
The long-distance footpath, The Fife Coastal Path, stretches from the Forth Estuary to the Tay, covering 117 miles of coastline, and we’ve walked many stretches over the years.  However, our route takes us most often to the section between Roome Bay (to the eastern end of Crail) and Crail Harbour.  We walk from Nethergate, down past the 16th century Doocot, westwards towards steps up to the site of the old Kings Mill, along Castle Walk with its great views over to the Isle of May and the East Lothian Coastline, down Shoregate past the Crail Harbour Gallery and Tearoom and round the harbour.  Then up the Hen’s Ladder and back along the main street, past the Crail Gallery and into the local shops for provisions.  A detour down Rose Wynd and past the Crail Pottery, and back along Nethergate to our starting point at Sandcastle Cottage.  If it’s too wild and windy, we head through Denburn Wood inland instead.

Crail Food Festival, credit Susan McNaughton

Crail Food Festival, credit Susan McNaughton

What is special about the Crail Food Festival?
Crail Food Festival is special because it provides an opportunity for visitors and locals alike to meet producers from the local area and sample the best of food from Fife.  It’s been the starting place for new connections and ideas, and in its second year inspired the name of a beer for St Andrews Brewing Company, ‘Crail Ale’.  It’s now in its third year, and has become a firm fixture in the events calendar for the East Neuk of Fife.

What is the highlight of the festival for you?
When the sun shines on our harbour festival day!

Do you have any tips for visiting the festival?
Yes, good to get to the village early on both days, or even better stay for the weekend.

What do you love about the East Neuk area?
It’s a feast for the senses – good food, fresh air, picturesque harbours, the sound of the sea and the feeling of relaxation which comes from an easy journey (no airports involved).  I’ve been coming here for more years than I care to reveal and keep coming back.

To really get to know the region, why not stay in a home-from-home?  EmbraceScotland has a range of self-catering Fife, perfect for exploring the stunning East Neuk.

Have you been to the Crail Food Festival?  Do you have any tips for visitors to the area?  Leave your comments or questions below.

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