Once over the bridge we enter the Kingdom of Fife. This is so called due to the unique geography of the area, bounded to the south by the wide Firth of Forth, to the north by the Firth of Tay and to the east by the North Sea. To the west lie the rolling Ochil hills. So, Fife is pretty much cut off from the rest of Scotland, and so remained semi-independent for longer than other parts. Central Fife used to be very poor, until the discovery of coal, while the towns and villages along its coastline were rich from all the trade across the North sea, hence the description of the area as a 'Beggar's mantle ringed with gold'. Shortly before Dunfermline, childhood home of Andrew Carnegie, we head east towards Kirkcaldy, birthplace of another famous 'fifer' Adam Smith, who wrote the 'Wealth of Nations'. This book is recognised as the 'bible' of Capitalism.
From Kirkcaldy we enter the area known as the 'East Neuk', from the Scottish word 'Neuk' meaning corner, and its small picturesque fishing villages hugging the coastline, infamous in the past as a paradise for smugglers. We pass Upper Largo, birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, a sailor marooned on the desert island of Juan Fernandez, inspiring Daniel Defoe to write 'Robinson Crusoe', before stopping for a short while in the quiet village of Crail. From Crail it is a short hop to the medieval town of St Andrews. St Andrew is the patron Saint of Scotland, and according to legend his remain were washed up on the Fife coast. Whether true or not, St Andrews has been the capital of the Scottish Church for the best part of a thousand years. As a testament to its power and the power of the Roman Church the Canmore Kings built a huge Norman Cathedral, the biggest in all of Scotland. During the upheavals of the Reformation, which pitted the Catholic Church against the Protestant New Order (the Church of Scotland), this symbol of Papal authority was destroyed, leaving only its huge eastern tower and a few stumps. It is well worth the visit to imaging what it must once have been like.
St Andrews is also home to the oldest University in Scotland. At nearly 600 years old, St Andrews university is one of Scotland's 4 Ancient universities, a number that few other counties, with 10 times our population can boast. Currently, St Andrews University has a famous student in Prince William. St Andrews is most famously the home of golf, with the Old Course just off the town centre, next to the long sand beach, which itself was used in the opening credits of 'Chariots of Fire'. We give you 3 hours to explore this unique town.
From St Andrews we take a pleasant drive through the rolling countryside of central Fife, with its small villages and patchwork of farms, to Falkland. Falkland Palace dominates this old village, and was one of the main residences of the old Royal family of Scotland, the Stewarts (Stuarts). It's gardens are well worth a visit. After an hour here we cross the Lomond hills past Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned by her Protestant nobility. And then it is straight back to Edinburgh.
Return time - Approx 6.00pm
Adult Price: £40
Child Price: £37 (3 - 16 yrs)