In the days when trading, fishing, and smuggling were the mainstays of Scotland, the villages clustered along the coast of Fife were like a door of opportunity opening toward the riches of the East. These fishing villages are part of the East Neuk of Fife (“neuk” is the Scottish term for “nook” or “cranny”), and King James VI once called it the “fringe of gold” surrounding the “beggar’s mantle” that was the rest of Fife. Today we’ll have a look at scenes from the East Neuk, and enjoy a taste of what life is like for its inhabitants!

The locals are passionately loyal to their homeland, even though it is not entirely certain what falls inside the boundaries of East Neuk. The general idea is that it includes the fishing villages along the most northerly shore of the Firth of Forth, and stretching a little further inland. This would include the villages of  Elie and EarlsferryKilconquharColinsburghSt MonansPittenweemCarnbeeAnstrutherCellardykeKilrennyCrail and Kingsbarns. Other towns (Lundin LinksUpper Largo and Lower Largo) have laid claim to the area as well, rousing strong feelings from the other villages.

Elie by Brian M Forbes
Elie, a photo by Brian M Forbes on Flickr.

Elie and Earlsferry

  • Yep, it’s just one town. Elie was once a separate village from Earlsferry, but in 1929 they were merged into one village.
  • The Elie & Earlsferry History Society has a section of their website devoted to old memories of the town, including this story of a simple man called Provost Don.
  • Today the town is popular with tourists who swarm there in the summertime to indulge in sailing and golf.
East Neuk Poppies 2 by D.Y
East Neuk Poppies 2, a photo by D.Y on Flickr.
  • This is one of the littlest villages in the area (approx. 9 miles wide, north to south), and includes the even smaller hamlet of Barnyards.
  • It provides lovely views of Loch Kilconquhar (pronounced kinucchar).
Colinsburgh Town Hall by Brian M Forbes
Colinsburgh Town Hall, a photo by Brian M Forbes on Flickr.


Rose Street, St Monans by EWin1
Rose Street, St Monans, a photo by EWin1 on Flickr.

St. Monans
Pittenweem FIFE by G T B 2008
Pittenweem FIFE, a photo by G T B 2008 on Flickr.
  • The name of this village is of Pictish origin and literally means “The Place of the Caves.” The most famous cave is St. Fillan’s Cave, once the haunt of hermits and now a Christian shrine. 
  • This is the only village in the East Neuk which still has a working harbor. Fish vans carry the morning’s catch to distant parts of Scotland.
  • The parish of Carnbee includes the hamlet of Arncroach and beautiful Kellie castle.
  • This is a rural place, nestled in rolling farmland.

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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