This area, or corner, of Scotland is called East Neuk and is part of Fife. Neuk by the way stands for nook or corner. On the Crail website you can read the following headline “a fringe of gold on a beggar’s mantle”. They are referring to King James VI of Scotland who described Fife as a “beggar’s mantle fringed wi gowd”, the golden fringe being the coast and its chain of little ports with their thriving fishing fleets and rich trading links with the Low Countries. Wool, linen, coal and salt were all traded. Salt pans heated by local coal were a feature of the Fife coast in the past. The distinctive red clay pan tiles seen on many old buildings in Fife arrived as ballast on trading boats and replaced the previously thatched roofs.
The next day we visited the village and harbour, well known for it’s shellfish, and we were in for a surprise. Crail is beautiful and it goes back a long way, as far back as the Pictish period, that’s the early middle ages. Marketgate, in the medieval heart of the village, was once the largest market place in Europe. The houses in the village all look very well maintained and colourful and it’s a pleasure to wander through the sometimes tiny streets and alleys down towards the harbour, another jewel built in the 16th century, and was later expanded by Robert Stevenson. The pretty harbour, the cottages and the village itself are a photographers dream so make sure to plan enough time for a proper visit of this beautiful fishing village.