If exploring the Kingdom of Fife along the Firth of Forth on a beautiful sunny day requires a bit of good fortune, we hit the jackpot. That we went off a whim to plan a picnic was just dumb luck. In the end it was all one should ask for in a single day.
Our day began in the quiet seaport of Anstruther. After a breakfast of haddock and poached eggs and a typical Scottish breakfast of veggie sausage, beans, eggs, potatoes, and cherry tomatoes, we went to try to get a boat to the Isle of May. That didn’t work out as a school group had pre-booked the entire boat and so off we went to our castle and church adventure.
We chose a southern route along the coast to our first destination in Kirkcaldy, seeking the Ravenscraig Castle. This business of simply driving to an easily marked landmark was simple enough but finding the easy path to them, we quickly learned, not so much. Ravenscraig was accessible by a foot trail but we opted for a simple stop and look.
We continued on to the next castle in our Historic Scotland guide book. Once we figured out that Inchcolm Abbey was on an island that required a ferry from Edinburgh and was off our trail, we found ourselves at Aberdour Castle and Gardens, the previous fortified residence of the Regent Morton. The grounds are kept in good order and some refurbishing has made access throughout very easy.
On such a beautiful day, we sat outside their Tea Room and had a delicious lunch of greens from the Co-op, red anster cheese from a cheesemaker outside of Anstruther, Scottish smoked mackerel, and a morning roll. An outstanding locally sourced meal on a magnificent castle lawn.
We rounded out our castle adventure with a stop at the Dunferline Abbey and Palace, where we chatted with a guide about Scottish history. This abbey is where a number of monarchs and other royalty are buried. The new part of the Abbey was built in 1821 for King Robert the Bruce whose name is spelled out atop the four sides of the church tower. The old Abbey, with its massive nave, is connected at the rear of the newer part. Our host spoke freely on the Scotland relationship with England, the impact of Brexit, Scottish royalty, and of all of the complexities that entails.
Our final Historic Scotland stop for the day was a scouting mission to St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral. it gave a quick look at where to park and how much time we would want before heading off to points north and west.