Scotland Auld and New
By Valerie Howes
The Fife Coastal Path
Fishermen’s cottages cluster around the harbor in Lower Largo, 12 miles from St Andrews, on the East Neuk of Fife. Alexander Selkirk, the 17th-century sailor who inspired Daniel Defoe’s fictional castaway, Robinson Crusoe, was born here. Visit Selkirk’s bronze statue on the main street, then stroll the sandy beach, from the sailing club to the harbor – one of the prettiest stretches on the recently developed 117-mile Fife Coastal Path.
Fairmont St Andrews
While the nearby Old Course is considered the birthplace of golf, Fairmont St Andrews’ outdoor activities are about more than hitting the links. Guests can hire mountain bikes on-site to explore the area (including the Fife Coastal Path) or, in case of rain, there’s an indoor pool, Signature Spa and a dedicated KidZone stocked with Xboxes and boardgames for the whole family.
Hunting, hawking and tennis drew Mary, Queen of Scots, to Falkland Palace on family retreats. You can still see the tennis court where she honed her racquet skills – built in 1539, it’s the oldest royal tennis court in Britain. Tour the palace to ogle the spectacular gilded king’s bed and gallery of Flemish tapestries. Meander outside in the newly planted Physic Garden to discover the medicinal herbs of Mary’s time. nts.org.uk
Golf caddy and dram lover Douglas Clement opened shop last year in a collection of historic farm buildings amid barley fields. His Kingsbarns Distillery laid its first cask to age in the centuries-old doocot, where pigeons once roosted. While you won’t be able to try the small-batch single malt in bottles until 2018, you can already sample the fruity and floral new-make spirit. Sign up for one of three tasting tours, tailored to different levels of expertise.
Located in Falkirk’s Helix Park, an hour’s coastal drive from St Andrews, The Kelpies are best visited at night, when they’re illuminated. Inaugurated in 2014, the majestic 100-foot horse heads are the world’s tallest equine sculptures and the largest works of public art in Scotland. Designed by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, they speak to the region’s equine heritage and were inspired by beasts from Celtic mythology that had the strength of 10 regular horses.
3 Fish Suppers to Unwrap
Hit this St Andrews spot for battered haddock or cod with chips, peas, bread and butter – along with Prosecco to wash it down.
2. Anstruther Fish Bar
Feast on Scottish haddock, sole or battered prawns while watching fishermen at work in the harbor.
3. Pittenweem Fish and Chip Bar
Try this old-school chippy’s hand-cut fries wrapped in newspaper – and don’t forget the malt vinegar!