Fife is the Kingdom of Delights.
As corny as it sounds, there truly is something to be said for appreciating what’s on your doorstep.
And a delightful little two-day jaunt to Fife was all it took for me to fully embrace this dusty old clich.
As someone who has spent their whole life living just across the Tay from Fife, it’s a place I’d taken for granted.
It was always just that peaceful, green swathe of land that divided me from the bright lights of Edinburgh and beyond.
So what a revelation it was to discover how much the Kingdom had to offer small enough to be able to drive to most points within an hour, but expansive enough to take in all manner of interesting attractions and bonny sights.
My girlfriend and I based ourselves at The Bay Hotel on the outskirts of the little town of Kinghorn, nestled at the foot of Fife.
The hotel was the ideal place for a relaxing short break with balconies offering gorgeous panoramic views over the Firth of Forth.
Waking up each morning to the calming pastel yellows and blues of the beach and river was the perfect way to switch off from the stresses and strains of busy day-to-day life.
Of course, if you did want to stay switched on while away (but with that view, why would you?) the room offered all the usual techie services you’d expect, such as wi-fi and even cable TV.
The hotel was comfortable and fresh, and we especially loved the split-level open-plan design of the room, again enhancing an airy feeling of freedom and peace.
The Bay also acts as part of the larger family-run Pettycur Bay Leisure Complex, which we were happily given access to during our stay.
We made a beeline for the swimming pool, enjoying the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi there, while for young families, the children’s paddling pool and soft play area will keep the kids happy for hours.
Add to all this a fitness centre, pool tables, and a function suite, and there was never a chance of us being bored during our stay. Finally, at the hotel, there’s the classy Horizons Restaurant.
We revelled one night with a slap-up steak dinner and bottle of red wine (or two!) at Horizons and again, with the Forth as a stunning backdrop, it felt like our own little idyllic hideaway.
So while there was more than enough to keep us entertained and relaxed at The Bay, it felt only right for us to sink our teeth into a bigger piece of Fife.
Our first sojourn was to the Scottish Deer Centre on the outskirts of Cupar and a 40-minute drive from Kinghorn. This was a fantastic day out for young and old.
My only complaint is that simply calling it a deer centre underplayed everything else the facility had going on!
The deer themselves were a treat. Traipsing round the 55-acre park, bonding with each species as we passed, was an informative and enjoyable trip.
However, bundle in an otter enclosure, prowling wolves (safely placed behind large iron fences!), wildcats, a majestic bird of prey display, picnic benches and a rough-and-tumble park for the kids (and big kids), and it was oh-so-very-easy to spend a whole day enjoying the centre.
Next stop was Cluny Clays, a fun-for-all-the-family attraction, based on the edge of Kirkcaldy.
A big outdoor sports and adventure park, Cluny offers a range of activities including a number of shooting events, a kids’ adventure play area, a nine-hole golf course and more.
We were met by friendly manager Eddy Buchan, who gave us a tour of the grounds before we delved into a round of clay shooting, archery and air-rifling.
Being a bit of a klutz, I expected to be terrible at the disciplines, however, with Eddy’s expert guidance and cool-headed patience it was literally a blast!
I ended up performing better than anticipated and it even brought out my competitive streak as I was pitched against my just-as-eager girlfriend in a shoot-out. The less said about who came out on top, however, the better…
On our final day, we bade a fond farewell to The Bay and headed north along the coastline, taking in the East Neuk and the lovely little fishing villages of St Monans, Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail.
The sun was out and we soaked up the picturesque delights of each beautiful wee harbour on our route.
The East Neuk is a special place and very popular. But it never gives the impression it has had to compromise its identity to become the tourist magnet it is.
And that, really, is Fife in a nutshell unassuming, underrated yet still full of personality and life. I can’t wait for my next visit.
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