Five of the most underrated natural beauty spots in Fife
From ancient caves to peaceful lochs, Fife has plenty of beautiful scenery you can enjoy away from the typical tourist destinations
Travelling is good for the soul, and when you plan an eco-conscious getaway, it can be good for the planet too. Happily, Scotland is blessed with an abundance of unspoilt landscapes, so you never have to trek far to find your next adventure – and Fife, in particular, is ripe for exploration.
Known for its stunning scenery and charming villages, Fife is full of verdant parks and rugged beaches, as well as serene lakes and lochs, which offer visitors the chance to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities.
And, when you’re ready to unwind after a fulfilling day spent in the fresh air, you can look forward to relaxing at one of the region’s charming independent and self-catering accommodation options, many of which are proud to foster a sustainable approach to tourism.
Of course, even the most tranquil spots can lose their appeal when they’re busy, which is why when you’re planning your itinerary, it’s a good idea to swap Fife’s tourist hotspots for its hidden gems. They may be lesser known, but they’re certainly just as beautiful, and will make for a relaxing holiday you’ll remember for years to come.
Read on to discover five of Fife’s best kept secrets…
Clatto Reservoir, Craigrothie
Just 5 miles away from the quiet village of Ceres is the beguiling Clatto Reservoir, a hidden oasis that’s ideal for picnics. The reservoir’s calm waters provide model boating conditions, while the surrounding woodlands are a great place to spot local wildlife including waterfowl.
If you want to stretch your legs a little more, then you’re in luck, because the Clatto Reservoir sits on the Fife Pilgrim Way, a new long-distance walking route that takes you on a journey through Scotland’s rich history and gorgeous landscapes. It follows the footsteps of medieval pilgrims who flocked here to be near the bones of St Andrew, and is divided into seven sections, each around 10 miles in length.
For accommodation nearby, try glamping at the Wigwam Holidays Montrave Estate. The expansive estate is ideally located for you to enjoy some peace and quiet, along with plentiful local wildlife – more than 200 red deer can be found here.
St Monans Tidal Pool, St Monans
Wild swimming is an invigorating way to awaken your senses and energise your body, and the tidal pool in St Monans is the perfect place to do just that. Carved into the rocky coastline, the sparkling pool is encircled by man-made walls and easy access points, making it ideal for outdoor swimming beginners. After, you can unwind on the banks and enjoy the calming view of the sea ahead.
Overlooking the tidal pool is St Monans Windmill, which was originally built to pump water to the nearby salt pans, but now acts as a base for coastguards. Using the windmill as a compass point, you can venture beyond the salt pans where you’ll find a path that will take you into the village and up to the harbour.
Conveniently, there’s a caravan park in St Monans, which is perfect if you plan on staying in the area for a while. There are also plenty of self-catering cottages in nearby Pittenweem, a large number of which overlook the sea and are a stone’s throw away from the village’s atmospheric restaurants and quirky shops.
When it comes to Fife’s prettiest coastal spot, East Neuk is often the first place that springs to mind, but the historic mining village of East Wemyss, just north-east of Kirkcaldy, is equally as impressive and likely to be a lot less busy.
This area stands out for its incredible sandstone caves, which contain around 50 visible Pictish carvings, the largest concentrated number anywhere in the UK. If you want to learn more about what they mean, you can join a guided tour of the caves during the summer months, which can be booked at the Wemyss Caves Education Centre.
And, while you’re in the area, make time to visit the ruined Macduff’s Castle, which sits above the caves. Thought to have been built in the 11th century, it offers unrivalled views of the breath-taking Scottish coastline. Also nearby is Dysart, whose pretty historic harbour doubles as the French port of Le Havre in the TV series Outlander.
There are plenty of self-catering accommodation options in and around East Wemyss, offering you ultimate flexibility during your stay, and Scottish Cottages can help you to find the one that’s best for you.
Fife Coastal Path
Stretching an impressive total of 117 miles, the serene Fife Coastal Path meanders through many of the region’s most beautiful destinations, from seaside promenades to enchanting woodlands. If you follow the section that starts at St Andrews and finishes at Tayport, you’ll enjoy everything from a walk through the luscious Tentsmuir plantations to the superb views from the Tay Bridge across the Firth.
This section of the path is about 18 miles in length. Walking is a great way to take in the incredible surroundings, but if you want to cover more ground, you could always rent a bike. Spokes Cycles in St Andrews allows you to hire a bike for the entire day, rather than at an hourly rate, and you can even get a discount if you plan to keep it for a week.
When you’re ready to put your feet up, head back to St Andrew’s Forest Lodges, a charming collection of log cabins that are designed to provide guests with a luxurious, self-catering stay, in a way that’s as gentle on the environment as possible.
Lochore Meadows Country Park, Lochgelly
Physical activity can be good for both your mind and body, and whether you’re looking to take part in organised activities or simply want to wander around and enjoy the scenery, Lochore Meadows Country Park has something for everyone.
The park’s expansive grounds lend themselves to a range of sports, including golf, fishing, orienteering, mountain biking and paddle boarding. Indeed, the loch here is the stage for national events such as the Scottish Open Water Championships, but with guided paddle boarding sessions available, people of all ability levels can give it a go.
It couldn’t be easier to stay here either, as motorhomes are welcome within the park for just £16 per night with an electric hook up, or £12 per night without electric. Alternatively, you could head about a 25-minute drive away and stay in one of the quaint Craigduckie Shepherds Huts. Located on a working farm, the huts enjoy fantastic views of Loch Fitty, plus all stays include a tour of the farm, so you’ll have the chance to roll up your sleeves and help care for the sheep, cows and chickens, if you like!
Please check government guidance before travelling. For practical information, head to VisitScotland for the latest travel advice.