Elie Ness Lighthouse
First lit in 1908 after sailors worried about not being able to see the rocky cliffside, the Elie Ness Lighthouse is situated between the Isle of May and Inchkeith. Now watched over by the Elie Ness Historical Society and Forth Ports, the lighthouse and the nearby cottage is still maintained. The lighthouse actually sits on its own stretch of land and, following a restoration in 2010, visitors can still explore the wonders of this modern lighthouse.
Glenfarg Railway Tunnel
Opened in 1890, this place isn’t one for claustrophobes. The now disused Glenfarg line is over 5 miles long and punctuated by two tunnels – each 500m long. If you’re a walker looking for somewhere new and exciting to explore, the Glenfarg tunnels allow you to walk through the disused North and South train tunnels. Top tip – the tunnels are very dark, so make sure to bring your torch when you visit!
There’s a bear on the way to Newburgh – but thankfully, not a real one! Cut into the grass of Park Hill in the 1980s, the piece shows a bear and a ragged staff, believed to have come from a stone carving from the nearby Lindores Abbey and has been passed down through noble families across the centuries – from the legend of King Arthur to the Norman Conquerors.
Hamish McHamish Statue
In the heart of St Andrews, one particular celebrity is immortalized in bronze. No, it’s not a royal or a rockstar – it’s Hamish McHamish, the unofficial mascot of the town and a beloved stray cat. The ginger cat explored the length and breadth of the city, with plenty of locals taking the time to feed and care for him. He even had his own social media pages. Though Hamish has now passed away, the statue immortalizes the joy he brought to St Andrews’ residents.
Standing Stones of Lundin
Scotland has many Neolithic and pre-historic remains, but the Lundin Links Standing Stones are particularly stunning to visit. Three lone-standing stones believed to date back all the way to the Bronze Age, sit in a traditional stone circle on the rolling landscape and is one of the most dynamic standing stone formations in the country. Though historians are unsure of what the stones were used for, many believe they represented a place of great ceremony, used over 2000 years ago for important celebrations and events.
Perfect for hikers, Maspie Den is a set of walking paths on the Falkland Estate – pride of place in the heyday of the 19th century. The footpath and woodland areas have undergone extensive reconstruction to welcome walkers in, and you can wander alongside the Coal Pit Burn and through the estate’s grounds as you go. Don’t forget to add the Yad Waterfall to your ‘must-see’ list as you plan your walk along Maspie Den.
South-East of Cowdenbeath is Lochore Castle, a ruined tower house dating back to the 14th century. Originally, the castle sat atop a mound that was surrounded by the waters of Loch Ore – though the water was drained in the 18th century. A traditional motte-and-bailey castle that originally had four storeys and corner towers, the area has been completely re-landscaped and the nearby loch refilled.
The first path is a 2 mile loop round the grounds, past the house and through the golf course. This filled with flat paths which are accessible and suitable for buggies. The second route is 5.5 miles and extends the walk by taking you round the scenic Loch of Skene.
Once you have finished this walk, you are close to Forest Farm Dairy for some of the creamiest ice creams that kids will love!
Though now ruined, the Ravenscraig Castle was once the spot of Kings and Queens. Built for Mary of Gueldres in the 15th century, it was only completed when handed to the Sinclair family, who fortified it to protect against attack. Now managed by Historic Environment Scotland, Ravenscraig Castle was also the inspiration for the great Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, who made it the setting in a section of his poem, Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Lady’s Tower, Ruby Bay
With a dramatic view over the waters of the bay, Lady’s Tower was built for a rather specific purpose in the 1700s. It was built for Lady Janet Anstruther – a merchant’s daughter renowned for her great beauty and greater reputation – who used it as a spot to sit and relax. She was believed to have bathed nude in the waters of the bay before ascending to the tower to recover from the shock of the water.
Saint Margaret’s Cave
Dating back centuries, the cave is so named after St Margaret, who was once the Queen of Scotland – around 1070. Made a saint by Pope Innocent the Fourth, Margaret was a deeply pious woman who walked up the cave to pray over 900 years ago and is now something of a pilgrimage site for visitors. You can explore the cave via a wooded pathway and a short climb, with a tunnel leading you deep inside the cave where Margaret herself once prayed.
There is a large car park and the main trail to Tappie Tower is 4 miles. This trail has good clear paths the whole way up and gives you great views over to the North Sea and Bennachie. Tappie Tower is a fun little 19th Centaury tower that children will enjoy climbing!
A Church of Scotland place of worship since 1072, Dunfermline Abbey was the first Christian church ever built in the area and was once a burial site for Scottish royalty – including Robert the Bruce. Built from the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, it’s one of the most significant cultural sites in Scotland – not just for its resting place of early Scotland’s great leaders, but also as the birthplace of Charles I –the last British monarch to be born in Scotland.
On the coastline is the charming town of Pittenween, an active port area renowned for its fish markets and vibrant community atmosphere. Set in the East Neuk of Fife, the village centres around the harbour, where many properties now restored by the National Trust capture the history of the area. Nearby, you’ll find the famous Kellie Lodge – a 16th-century townhouse – and St Fillan’s Cave on the cliffside.
In the Firth of Forth is Inchcolm, a small island that is now home to a ruined Augustine Abbey. Repeatedly attacked by the English during the Scottish Wars of Independence, its name comes from the word ‘Innis Choluim’, Scottish Gaelic for ‘Columba’s Island’. Just one mile from the Fife coastline, the island was also used as a base for the Royal Navy during WWI.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
Perhaps the worst kept secret in Scotland, this Secret Bunker seems, on the surface, rather innocuous. But step inside and you’ll find Scotland’s Secret Underground Nuclear Command Centre. Set 100ft underground, its farmhouse exterior hid the centre – built in 1953 – as the Cold War began to progress. Now, its history is immortalized in an interactive museum.
Perhaps best known in the contemporary day for being one of the locations used in Outlander, Culross is also home to a brand new memorial to the 380 women who were executed after being accused of witchcraft. Placed along the Fife Coastal Path, visitors to Culross will be able to learn more about the area’s history and relationship to the witch trials of the period.
If you go down to Dunino Den, you might just find a big surprise. Close to St Andrews, this area of shaded woodland is believed to have been haunted by fairies and a significant site of Pagan worshippers. Crags, crosses, messages set in stone – it’s believed that the Pagan ancestors left these symbols for future generations to discover more about the time in which they lived. Visitors can expect a supernatural vibe within the forest, as though the Druids are still there in spirit.
Formed over 7000 years ago by the movement of the sea, the Wemyss Caves are found just north of the Firth of Forth. It’s believed that the caves were integral to communities in pre-historic Britain, with organizations now dedicated to preserving the large number of carvings that were found in the caves. Visitors can explore the six remaining caves that sit along the coastline and see some of the earliest examples of Pichtish Art.
Adrenaline seekers should hurry to the Fife Coastline and to the Elie Chain Walk – which is not for the faint-hearted! Just set a little away from the village of Elie, the cliffs above the Fife Coastal Park boast a difficult terrain that experienced walkers can scale with the help of hanging chains to keep you steady. If your nerve is strong enough to take on the walk, you can expect gorgeous views over Kincraig Point and Shell Bay as you climb.
Take a gentle walk through the Fife countryside and you’ll find one of the most oddly shaped rock formations in the country. The Bunnett Stane (or bonnet, if you’re anglicizing it) sits in West Lomond and is named after its distinctive, mushroom-like shape. Formed over centuries of ice, wind and water, you’ll find a manmade cave just beneath it where you can find out more about this incredible feat of natural rock formation.
In the care of Historic Environment Scotland, the ruins of Culross Abbey – once an order for Cistercian monks in the 1200s – are still a beautiful sight to behold. Some parts of the abbey are still used for the local Church of Scotland parish and often plays host to many cultural events in the area. One of the oldest Christian sites in Scotland, the abbey is now open to the public – and often plays host to local weddings.
Wellie Garden of St Monans
At the harbour of St Monans, on an otherwise non-descript slipway, is a rather wonderful slice of horticulture. Indeed, because the plants have not been planted in pots or the earth – but in wellie boots. The shipyard is now no longer used but has been given a new lease on life thanks to Win Brown – a local teacher. Visit in the summer and you’ll find around 200 pairs of boots, packed with flowers.
Doocot of Crail
Though the Doocot – a building that houses pigeons – is a familiar site in Fife, Crail is distinctive primarily by its hive shape. Originally built in the 16th century to supply food to the local communities, the building was partially restored in the 60s and then further in the 2010s. Now, visitors can visit the Doocot, explore its insides and learn more about the extensive history of the building itself.
St Fillan’s Cave
Head down to Pittenweem harbour and you’ll find St Fillan’s Cave – a place believed to have some rather magical qualities. Fillan was an Irish missionary who was active in converting Fife residents to Christianity in the 8th century. It was believed he lived in the cave, writing sermons by the light of his luminous arm. Inside the cave, you’ll find the well dedicated to the saint, whose healing waters were believed to cure the ill.
Last Fatal Duel in Scotland – Cardenden
On the surface, a seemingly tranquil forest is actually home to the last fatal duel that took place on Scottish soil. A banker and a linen merchant found themselves at pistols at dawn on a cold morning in 1826. The banker was shot dead, despite being an ex-military man, and the linen merchant was found not guilty of murder. True crime buffs and history lovers unite – and take a stroll along this indelible place in Scottish history.
St Monans Old Kirk
One of the oldest Scottish churches still used by locals today, St Monans Old Kirk dates back to AD 1256 and, following disuse, was believed to have been rebuilt by King David I as a way to thank God for his safe passage during a storm. Built into the cliffs of St Monans, the church is one of a handful of medieval places of worship still left in the country and is also considered one of the most beautiful in Scotland.
St Andrews Cathedral
Noted as Scotland’s largest medieval church, St Andrews Cathedral’s majesty overlooks the coast and is one of the town’s most prominent landmarks. Once the seat for the leading bishops and archbishops of Scotland, the ruins stretch across 199m and was designated a scheduled monument in 1999.
St Andrews Old Course
St Andrews – and Scotland as a whole – is known for golf, but there is no course older or more iconic than the St Andrews Old Course. Played on by some of the greatest golfers in history, the course is home to the famous Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker – and is open for anyone to play a round on. St Andrews Old Course has also hosted the Open Championships more times than any other course in the country.
Fife is also home to a tennis court considered to be the oldest in the world. At Falkland Place, the hidden gem of the Royal Tennis Courts is a roofless space where early editions of the sport were played as far back as the 1500s. It gets it ‘royal’ name from its commissioner – King James IV, whose family enjoyed playing ‘royal tennis’ on the court, a version slightly different from the modern game. If you’re visiting Falkland Palace, a few sets on the court are certainly in order!
Kingarrock Hickory Golf
The last remaining hickory golf course in the UK, Kingarrock will transport back through almost one hundred years of history across the 9-hole course. First built in 1924, the course was reopened to the public following years of improvements for players in 2008. Whatever your handicap, whether you’re a keen golfer – or much more acquainted with the sport’s ‘crazy’ side, Kingarrock is the perfect place to test out your skills.
West Sands Beach
Fifteen minutes from the centre of St Andrews is West Sands Beach, a stretch of beautiful beach that was awarded the 2014 Keep Scotland Beautiful Seaside Award. The two miles of sand are perhaps most famous for the iconic opening scene of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire – so it’s the perfect place to test out your racing skills.
Just southwest of St Andrews, the Craigtoun Country Park is a great spot for families to visit. Originally part of the forty-seven-acre Mount Melville Estate, much of the grounds’ original design still remains – including the rose garden, walled garden and Italian garden. You’ll also want to visit the ‘Dutch Village’ – a small island village in the middle of a lake. Explore the park by tractor, train or even by boat and pedalo!
Isle of May
A protected natural reserve in the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May is home to puffins, seals seabirds – and a long history of smugglers. Best visited in the summer months – particularly to see the mating seabirds – a boat takes you up to the island and gives you time to explore the stunning natural landscape that brought monks and Vikings to its shores centuries ago.