Fringed with Gold – The Fife Coast

Anstruther harbour

At last we’re nearing the front of a long, shuffling queue teased by the scent of frying fish and the waft of vinegar.

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have dined here. They’re pulling in coaches from Newcastle, York and Glasgow but there’s no evidence of Hollywood today.

We take our haddock and chips, avoiding the jealous glances of hungry day-trippers, and wriggle to get comfortable on the sea wall.

Seagulls patrol the cobbles, gimlet eyes fixed on spilled chips and toddlers’ dripping cornets.

A terrier chases a tennis ball down to the beach. We kick off our shoes, running our toes through the soft golden sand.

Back in the 16th century King James VI described Fife as ‘a beggar’s mantle fringed with gold.’ He clearly loved a bucket and spade holiday.

The Lothian coast and Bass Rock are a faint haze on the horizon. The sun warms our backs and we roll up our trousers to paddle, gasping as our toes are tickled by the cold, fizzing shoreline.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Just along the seafront is the Scottish Fisheries Museum. The folklore and tradition of fishing and maritime is captured in a collection of photographs, engravings, maps and curios.

Early photos show the East Neuk harbours packed with the herring fleet. The masts of the vessels are so many they could be matchsticks or toothpicks.

The men could be away for days or weeks in bitterly cold and mountainous seas, so the fishwives would carry them piggyback to their boats to keep their boots and leggings dry.

We fetch ice-cream and set to building sandcastles. We gouge a deep moat in the golden sand, but on this beautiful, glorious day it seems even the tide is too lazy to fill it.


About richlakin

I write about things that interest me
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