“Neuk” is the Scots word for nook, or corner, and the East Neuk is an area of fishing villages (and villages slightly inland) along the Fife coast. It was once described as a “fringe of gold” by James VI.
Kingsbarns is named for the barns used to store the king’s grain, before it was transported to Falkland Palace. Other well-known East Neuk villages you may have heard of are Anstruther, Pittenweem, and my own favourite, Crail.
Crail is a tiny fishing village, with a charming harbour.
Ten miles south of St Andrews, it was made a Royal Burgh by Robert The Bruce in 1310. He also granted it the right to hold markets on a Sunday, in the Marketgait, where the Mercat Cross now stands. Something the church tried to change, without success!
Clergyman John Knox expressed his alarm when visiting because the fishermen were working on a Sunday!
There’s lots of history here — the Parish Church dates back to 1160, and the Tollbooth to the 1500s. But it’s the harbour which is the loveliest.
Cobbled streets lead the way there, with bobbing boats, lobster pots and a lovely tearoom nearby. The crow or “corbie-step” gable roofs of the houses were influenced by the architecture of the Low Countries.
On to the harbour
So for this week’s story starter, I’ve chosen Crail harbour. Tiny, but beautiful. Picturesque, yet a working harbour.
On the day we visited, the harbour was a little oasis of calm. A complete contrast to the sea just outwith the wall, which was wild.
You can walk along the sea wall, which we did. It definitely isn’t for the fainthearted!
It’s a lovely contrast with Kingsbarns, which is inland, and surrounded by farmland.
A village with a shop, hotel, post office and church. Absolutely beautiful, all year round. Peaceful.
And wherever you go, there’s golf!
We hope this helps inspire your writing this week. If you are looking for another Story Starter, click here to look through our archives.