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Kellie Castle

Kellie Castle

Medieval atmosphere meets Victorian style at Kellie Castle. The oldest parts date back to the 14th century, but the whole interior was overhauled in the late 19th century by the Lorimers, a famous artistic family.

Crow-stepped gables and fairytale stone towers form the outer frame, while indoors elaborate plaster ceilings and painted panelling lie alongside fine furniture designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who spent much of his childhood at Kellie.

Outside, take a wander through the Arts & Crafts garden with its magnificent herbaceous borders, filled with the heavy scent of old roses, along with fruit and vegetables which are all grown organically.

 

  • Discover how the castle was saved from ruin in the late 19th century by a family of architects and artists.

  • Breathe in the heady scents in the Arts & Crafts garden, filled with the fragrance of old roses.

  • Admire the majestic library ceiling – one of the oldest ornamental plaster ceilings in Scotland.

  • Discover the long-concealed mural by Phoebe Anna Traquair.

  • Visit the stables, where there’s an exhibition on sculptor Hew Lorimer’s life and see his sculpture studio.

Crail, Fife
Crail, Fife

Crail, Fife

Crail is the most easterly of the line of coastal settlements along the south side of the East Neuk of Fife. Many would also say it is also the most attractive of them, though each has its own unique character. Ten miles south east of St Andrews, Crail is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year, though it's probably at its best on a bright day in Winter when you stand more chance of having it to yourself. 


The town has an ancient history. It was well settled by the 800s and was a thriving town by the 1100s. Crail was made a royal burgh by Robert the Bruce in 1310. He also gave it the right to hold markets on a Sunday. For many years after the Reformation of 1560 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland tried without success to force a change of Crail's market to a weekday.


Crail's eastern location gives it an air of seclusion. There's an old Fife story about a man who asked another whether he had been abroad: "Na, but I ance kent a man who had been to Crail". That could also have been a reference to the strong Dutch influence in the town. This is shown most strongly in the Tolbooth, which dates back to the 1500s. This stands as if on an island in the centre of Marketgate, alongside the Town Hall added to it in 1814.


Marketgate is the medieval heart of Crail, once the largest marketplace in Europe. Now its size is concealed up by the trees lining the road that runs through it. On the south side of Marketgate the houses are small but attractive, while the north side was where the rich merchants built their much grander mansions. The most obviously imposing of these is No9 Friary Court, now know as the Old House, built in 1686 and probably Crail's oldest surviving house. A little further along, Kirkmay House is more reclusive, standing back from Marketgate. Crail's Parish Church is much older in origin than it looks, dating back in parts to 1160, with piecemeal additions made in the 1200s, 1500s and 1700s. Today's look owes much to a major restoration and tidying up in 1963. West of the Tolbooth, Crail's Marketgate becomes its High Street. Here you find the highly distinctive Golf Hotel, dating back to the early 1700s. The age of the building is clear from its relationship with the surface of the road outside, which over the intervening centuries has risen by the height of the three steps you now have to descend into the hotel.


Crail's beautiful harbour lies to the south of the High Street and is best reached on foot, having parked in the town. From the harbour the town appears to be a riot of reddish stone and white harled frontages intermingled with gray slate and red tiled roofs. All of this tumbles down the hill from the High Street to conclude on the side of the honey coloured stone lined harbour, complete with a few small fishing boats and occasional piles of lobster pots. It looks as if someone had designed a film set depicting an ideally pretty fishing harbour. But what makes Crail so wonderful is that it is very much the real thing: and though not a film set, its harbour must be amongst the most photographed in Scotland. If it just had a castle it would have everything a photographer could possibly want. Sadly the ruins of the royal castle built on the cliffs to the east of the harbour in the 1100s were cleared away by the Town Council in 1706. 

Elie, Fife
Elie, Fife

Elie, Fife

Elie occupies the eastern half of a mile long south-facing sandy bay framed at either end by rocky points. Since 1929 it has been formally joined with Earlsferry, which runs along the western half of the same bay. You can read the full text of the chapters about Elie and Earlsferry in D Hay Fleming's 1886 book: Guide to the East Neuk of Fife.

Of the two settlements, Earlsferry has the longer history, being made a Royal Burgh by Robert II in 1373. By then it had been an established ferry port for crossings to North Berwick for hundreds of years. It is said that MacDuff, the Earl of Fife, crossed from here in 1054 while fleeing from King Macbeth.

Earlsferry ceased to operate as a port after a serious storm in 1766. This drowned seven Earlsferry fishermen and completely filled the village harbour with blown sand. By this time Elie, which was much better protected from weather coming in from the east, had already become the more important of the two. The name is said by some to come from Eilean Ardross the original name of the island on which Elie's Harbour, now long connected to the mainland, stands. As the slight remains of the ancient Ardross Castle can be found just a mile along the coast, this theory is fairly convincing.

On the east edge of Elie is Elie House. Originally built on the site of an earlier house in 1697 for Sir William Anstruther, this saw a series of changes over the centuries. It was used as a convent during part of the 1900s before being placed on the market at the end of the century. It has since been restored and since 2006 has provided self catering accommodation.

In 1850 Elie's harbour was expanded, and a road was laid along the headland leading out to it from the village. Elie's fortunes improved further in 1863 with the arrival of the railway. The visitors brought by the trains were supplemented by those on board the regular steamers from North Berwick and Leith, and suddenly Elie and Earlsferry became desirable destinations for Victorian trippers. The railway, and the steamers, have all long gone, but the villages remain significant centres for yachting, and together serve as a local resort whose beaches are matched as attractions by the golf available on Earlsferry links. It was here that the famous golfer James Braid first played the game.

The twin settlements of Elie and Earlsferry remain extremely attractive and charming places to visit. The oldest buildings are found on South Street in Elie, whose south side backs onto the beach. Parallel to it and a little inland is the main street, operating under a number of different names including, from east to west, Elie High Street, Bank Street, Links Place, Liberty, and Earlsferry High Street.

Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

Located in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Balmoral Castle is one of two personal and private residences owned by The Royal Family, unlike the Royal Palaces, that belong to the Crown.

The Royal Family first became interested in Balmoral in 1847 when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Ardverikie on the edge of Loch Laggan in the west Highlands of Scotland. Their time there was marred by terrible weather - Queen Victoria mentions the 'pouring rain' many times in her diary.

While at Ardverikie the son of The Queen's physician, Sir James Clark, wrote a number of letters to his father who was convalescing at Balmoral. The letters from Balmoral described blue skies and fine weather - the news of dry weather interested Prince Albert.

In 1848 it was therefore suggested that the Balmoral climate would make a more suitable Scottish residence for The Queen, with the artist James Giles commissioned to make watercolours of a plan of the house. The decision was soon made to acquire the remaining 27 year lease for Prince Albert, and in 1852 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Castle outright.

 

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Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Looking for a Day Trip to Eilean Donan Castle? A1 Coaches can help, providing 8 to 72 seat Coaches for all occasions. As one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognised all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands. Well worth a visit! 01592 713443