Camping Inspiration: Fife Coast
Visiting Fife’s East Neuk for the first time feels a bit like discovering an Aladdin’s cave of hidden gems.
A cluster of historic fishing villages along a strip of white sandy beaches, this Scottish neuk (‘nook’) is often referred to as ‘Cornwall without the crowds’.
It’s easy to see why; there are idyllic whitewashed cottages, expansive sandy beaches, pretty harbours and village lanes to explore, along with a famed foodie trail of upmarket eateries, local farm produce and fresh seafood.
We usually associate camping on the coast with the summer months, but the East Neuk is beautiful all year round, particularly if you take up one of the many glamping options on offer.
The dreamy Cape Cod style beach huts at Sauhope Links Holiday Park stand on a rocky shore ideal for rock pooling, next to historic Crail, one of the East Neuk’s most picturesque villages. Sauchope has recently expanded its glamping offering (many with hot tubs); the six new beach huts are already proving popular, there’s two glamping domes, two beach hideouts plus larger lodges, caravans and touring caravan pitches.
The luxurious and comfortable weatherboard huts are at the upper end of the glamping scale. The kitchen/living area has a double sofa bed, flat screen television, dining table for four and kitchenette with retro-style fridge/freezer, microwave oven, toaster, kettle and Tassimo coffee machine.
It’s light and roomy inside, thanks to the white panelled open ceiling and breezy coastal décor. Well-designed, everything has been thought of, from coat pegs and electric heating to a Bluetooth surround music system and Wi-Fi (£3 per 1GB, £8 for 3GB).
Inside, there’s a bright turquoise bathroom with a power shower, toilet and heated towel rail that’s handy for drying wet swim gear. At the back, the bedroom has a double bed and flat screen television – which proved ideal for evenings when our children were asleep on the sofa bed early.
Our beach hut – the deluxe – has a wrap-around deck with outdoor seating, fire pit and a wood-fired hot tub. It’s well located for families with young children – we lazed in the sun on the back deck, watching our kids play in the playpark beside us, while the hot tub heated up. It was worth the one-and-half hour wait; wallowing in the steamy depths with sea views and seagulls flying overhead is a lasting fun family memory.
For traditional camping in the East Neuk, Pettycur Bay is a pretty laid-back option. There’s no advance booking, just pitch up between 12am-8pm and claim your pitch. There are static caravans (for rent and for sale) up a hill behind the campsite, which has touring caravans and motorhomes at one end, with a small grassy camping area for tents, all with electric hook-up, at the other end. The site is close to a sandy blue flag beach (across a road) that is ideal for autumnal coastal walks, with sea views across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh. It’s also well set-up for families; our kids loved the indoor pool, (heated to 29 degrees) which has a paddling pool with hedgehog water feature for young children. The site is open until the end of October, making it perfect for an autumn half-term break.
Back up the coast, Elie Holiday Park stands on the beachfront sand dunes of Shell Bay, a stone’s throw from a sweeping sandy beach. Tent pitches are nestled in a grassy area close to the beach. Ideal for families, it’s pretty geared up facilities-wise. Each tent pitch has its own electric hook up (included in the price at £16.95 a night) and can accommodate a 4x4 metre tent (max occupancy six people). The Robinson Crusoe Adventure Park with pirate ship playpark kept our kids entertained for hours, plus there is an indoor Smugglers’ Cove games room if the weather turns, as it can do at this time of year. Stock up on food at the on-site mini supermarket and have a barbecue at your pitch (or eat at the Mirador café or Kincraig View restaurant). It’s also on the Fife Coastal Path, which runs the length of the coast passing through charming fishing villages – you can even take the dog.
SAUCHOPE LINKS HOLIDAY PARK
Crail, Fife KY10 3XJ
Facilities include a small on-site shop, indoor games room with pool table and table football and, in the summer months, a heated outdoor swimming pool. Deluxe beach huts with hot tub cost from £120 per night, sleeps four, pets allowed £10 per stay. Standard beach huts are from £60 per night, based on two sharing,
PETTYCUR BAY HOLIDAY PARK
Burntisland Road, Kinghorn, Fife KY3 9YE
01592 892 200
The site has a heated indoor pool, as well as an outdoor playpark, indoor soft play and a games room with amusement arcade, juke box, table tennis and air hockey tables. The on-site Bay Leisure Centre has a gym, bar, nightclub and restaurant with floor to ceiling glass windows with beach and sea views. Tent pitches are £22 per night and the site is open until the end of October.
ELIE HOLIDAY PARK
Shell Bay, Elie, Fife KY9 1HB
Facilities include an outdoor playpark plus the indoor Smugglers’ Cove games room, a mini supermarket, café and restaurant. Booking online saves you 10% - book five nights and the first night is free. Tent pitches cost from £16.95 per night
FIFE FOODIE TRAIL
THE SHIP INN
The family-run and award-winning Ship Inn is an East Neuk institution and must-visit. The historic pub overlooks Elie’s grand holiday houses which line the mile-long sandy bay, watersports centre and the world’s only beach cricket club. Dine outside in the barbecue garden or sit amidst copper ship’s lamps and stylish maritime décor inside – either way there’s sea views with fishing boats and kayakers drifting by. The food is exceptional; we feasted on squid and prawns fresh off the boat just hours earlier, local clams steamed in apple cider and the infamous paella (locals favourite) packed with langoustines, salmon and chorizo. Children’s menu, events calendar
COCO TREE CAFÉ
Walk up a lane from the harbourside fish market to the Coco Tree Café on the main street. Local chocolatier Sophie Latinis, runs the Pittenweem Chocolate Company upstairs at the café. Step inside to a heady coco scent, eclectic old world décor with vintage prints and Zimbabwe street art. Popular hot chocolates are the milk chocolate, hazelnut praline and salted caramel (all divine). Stop by for lunch; crepes, brownies and soup (all gluten free), focaccias and not-to-be-missed Belgian waffles.
ANSTRUTHER FISH BAR
Testimony to this award-winning fish bar’s reputation is the queue out of the door. Try the haddock and chips, prawns and gluten free ice cream
Choose your own live lobster and dine alfresco at a harbourside picnic table. £11 per lobster, Crail harbour.
BOWHOUSE FOOD MARKET
Local producers, market stands, food theatre, kid’s corner, live music. Adults pay £2.50 and kids go free
THINGS TO DO IN FIFE
SCOTTISH DEER CENTRE
Extensive park with wolves, lynx, bears, otters, Scottish wildcat, 16 species of deer and friendly rangers giving feeding sessions and falconry displays. Indoor and outdoor play areas, shop and café. Adult £9, child £6, under 3s free
SCOTTISH FISHERIES MUSEUM
Housed in several buildings at Anstruther harbour, this treasure trove of fishing heritage includes a fisherman’s cottage, boatyard, herring market and children’s activities. Adult £9, child free
Try inflatable rides, pedal boats, canoes, windsurfing or sailing in a safe sandy bay
ISLE OF MAY BOAT TRIPS
Look out for seabirds, puffins, dolphins and whales and explore the island
FIFE COASTAL PATH
Follow the 117 mile rugged trail past beaches, harbours and historic villages