Day 8: 17 September 2012
What a pleasant change for me to sleep well on a Sunday night – I often watch the clock tick away the minutes to needing to be ready for work on a Monday. The benefits of good sleep cannot be underestimated and this past week I have slept well – getting off to sleep without fretting, sleeping deeply and waking refreshed and before the alarm goes off. This latter aspect is really important for me because over the past few years I have found the winter mornings drag me down – I need to be out with the dog well before 6am – and it gets harder as the winter progresses.
I had been doing my homework and decided that the East Scotland Megarider was to be my ticket for the week – it comes in at £37.50 but it adds Fife to the mix along with Perth & Kinross, Dundee City and Angus. Last week I paid extra to visit Fife so I figure this represents a better value for money method. I also know that often, because it is rarely asked for on our services, the drivers struggle to find it in the ticket machine … but I did not let that deter me! I was confident our driver would have no issues locating it …
So ticket in pocket (eventually) I set off on week 2 of my serenity search. My destination for today was to be the fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife – I had Anstruther and Crail in mind but I decided to see how I got on timewise and then visit more if time allowed.
Dundee to St Andrews used the service 99 (like last week’s visit) and gave me time for a revisit to the friendly Costa … not a good decision today …
I know my daughter is almost 25 years old but I cannot think that I would have allowed her to run up and down in Costa running a toy on a metal clad surface and making a racket like a jet engine – however blond, blue eyed and cherubic she was as a toddler. The child was eventually brought back to sit at his table but by that time he had ruined my peaceful coffee and undoubtedly several other folk’s as well.
I remembered the code for the toilets though without resorting to my receipt. I made a quick stop at the Sainsbury Local to pick up lunch and then headed back to the Bus Station to await the 95. This service goes right along the coast from St Andrews to Leven linking all the fishing villages along the route.
Crail was my first stop – by far the most picturesque of today’s locations. Lot of houses with the stepped gables and pantile roofs that typify Fife. The bus arrives at the High Street and it is a short walk down to the harbour through pretty little streets and then an elevated walkway at the site of the Castle.
Probably the oddest in terms of public conveniences, I had a slightly anxious moment in Crail. I saw a sign for the toilets. There was a door with a standard loo door man on it; there was a closed door with no sign and an open door with no sign. Inside the open doorway it was clearly the toilets – there was noone using them so I decided in the absence of signage this was probably the ladies … I was not persuaded otherwise by any event and for a free, unstaffed toilet they were not bad – well done Crail (although a sign would be helpful).
After an hour exploring Crail I hopped back on the bus to go along the coast to Anstruther. This is quite different from Crail in many ways – the land is shallower here and the harbour is bigger and more stretched out. Unlike Crail the shops are along the harbour rather than set up top in a shopping main street. The harbour has two zones, an outer harbour which has a wee sandy beach (it put the sand in sandwich for me today – yummy!) and an inner harbour with lots of boats – don’t you love the sound of a harbour full of boats jiggling with the tide?
Anstruther is home to the cruiser and the RIB that run trips to the Isle of May and a restored, sailing herring fishing boat (big masts!). Next to the harbour is a bigger sandy beach at low tide where the Dreel Burn comes out by the famous Smugglers Inn.
Anstruther boasted public conveniences in the centre which were fine (mental note to self: don’t try to take shortcuts by not removing backpack and getting caught up on the cistern …) and it must boast the most beautiful bus shelter … which was also nicely cosy against the sea breeze.
My last hop on the bus today was to Pittenweem. The road down to the harbour was a little less exciting although there were chances to glimpse and photograph the Isle of May.
I am not sure whether these are cormorants or shags and there is a strange ducklike bird in the foreground of the second picture … I also spotted curlew (in a stubble field), gulls (of course) and oystercatchers – where they belong at the seaside! (we get plagued by these noisy waders in the spring when they come inland to raise their chicks – the problem is they still try to feed on a tidal cycle so they make their noise at night too!)
I had to include this sign on the harbour railing … because it made me laugh out loud – as if anyone else would park their vehicle in a working fishing harbour!!
I will have to have another trip down this coast to visit the remaining harbours and I have so many photos I will have to add a gallery page I think and link to it from here (but not tonight). The drive back up the coast showed increasingly overcast weather (I couldn’t see Easthaven across the Firth of Tay for a haar) and the return from St Andrews to Dundee was in torrential rain.
No weather prediction this morning but the British weather definitely won this afternoon – contrasted with the really bright conditions earlier in the day which made photography tricky. However I did manage to find a small weather window to enjoy a double scoop icecream from here … yummy! mind at £2.70 not cheap and I am grateful I don’t stay at St Andrews or I could easily end up fat(ter) and broke!
- Challenged myself some more with heights, water below the heights and steep climbs/descents (I mist admit I lost a few points because my faith in my ability to tackle the steep wynd from Pittenweem harbour was optimistic – I was wheezing by the time I got to the top;
- Appreciated the similarities and differences in these communities;
- Enjoyed the challenge of taking photographs in difficult lighting;
- Found the smartest bus shelter ever; and
- Had my faith that the East of Scotland Megarider can be found on the bus ticket machine and was worth the outlay – that’s fine thank you Driver (don’t you feel better for being challenged just out of your comfort zone – don’t you?)