Monday 2 May 2016

Scotland's Cinque Terre

Clinging like limpets to the tumbling Ligurian coast, the Cinque Terre are five incredibly picturesque Italian villages.

And it was while walking between Elie and Crail that the thought stuck me. This is Scotland's Cinque Terre!

In the Cinque Touns:

OK, so the East Neuk may not be a world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site, and these pretty villages stand out mainly because they buck the Scottish trend of building unattractive domestic architecture. On the other hand, Elie, St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail do not suffer from the pressure of tourist numbers affecting the Italian Cinque Terre. You can wander the streets and paths unmobbed and unregulated. To a person who likes things fuss-free, this is precious indeed.

Elie beach:

Our walk started in Elie, the only one of Fife's 'Cinque Touns' to boast a significant stretch of beach. Elie is quiet but not undiscovered. It has a reputation as a second-home destination for wealthy Edinburgers. The streets are filled with Mercedes and it has a Michelin-starred restaurant. (Right now a two-bedroom bungalow on the seafront is on the market for over £800,000 - you would pay less in Edinburgh's New Town!) But the fresh air and the seafront walks are free.

Elie from its beach:

A scarecrow festival was on, the harbour full of yachts rather than fishing boats, and everything was right with the world. We wandered out to Elie Ness, looked over to the snow on the Moorfoots and sunbathed.

Tower at Elie Ness:

The trail between Elie and St Monans is easy going, above a beach with interesting rock formations. The coast here is part earthy, part sandstone, part volcanic...

Rock formations with Bass Rock and Berwick Law in the distance:

We stopped to smell the rich tropical scent of gorse, as sparrows flitted between impenetrable bramble bushes... students were out from St Andrews, enjoying a break from their studies.

Student on a doocot:

Eventually, we approached St Monans along the earthy path.

St Monans kirk:

St Monans raises the levels of picturesque to an art. Many houses were restored by the National Trust in their little house improvement scheme.

The harbour is a lovely place to while away a some time. We ate ice cream from the local shop and wandered about.

It is a hop of just a couple of kilometres from St Monans to Pittenweem, past a windmill and old salt pans. This was an industrial landscape during the Rennaisance and Jacobean times. What was once a dirty industrial site now does its best to stay just on the right side of twee.

Approaching Pittenweem:

By Pittenweem the afternoon was well advanced. We had spent the whole date bimbling and sunbathing, looking at gable-ends and smelling the spring flowers. A decision was made to curtail our walk two villages short so we could get home in decent time for tea. Anstruther and Crail would have to wait.

Pittenweem harbour:

Coastal walking, counter-intuitively, often requires more time for the distance than hillwalking - there is so much more to see!


Linda said...

Beautiful photos! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Ian Johnston said...

A great series Robert - one of my favourite stretches of the east coast

Kind regards

blueskyscotland said...

Smashing post and photos. The "kingdom" is a magical place to visit any time of year and that section of the coast is the nearest we get to the Med or the tropics in Scotland yet without the biting bugs and creepie crawlies.

RM Griffith said...

Scotland is definitely on my travel list (I love scotch, after all). The problem is that when I get to the UK, I head straight for Pembrokeshire. I have not yet seen everything I want to see there!