Catchpenny Safari Lodges, Elie, Fife

Over the school break, we took a trip to Scotland for a week long holiday in Fife. It’s a part of Scotland that I really love and I used to visit a lot in my early twenties, dreaming one day of moving there. I’ve wanted to go back for a long time and this year I was determined to make it happen. We chose to stay at Catchpenny Safari Lodges near the town of Elie. Situated on the Fife Coastal Path, a 117 mile walk that begins at the Firth of Forth in the South and ends at the Firth of Tay in the North, this is a glamping site comprising eight safari lodges nestled on the cliff side. With spectacular views across the water to the Isle of May, a National Nature Reserve and Bass Rock, a haven for seabirds, it’s a nature lovers paradise.

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Each lodge sleeps six, with one double room, a twin room and the beautiful cabin bed that also sleeps two. I stupidly forgot to take any pictures of the two bedrooms but I can confirm that they are lovely. Essentially off-grid, you can’t plug in any appliances and there is no wi-fi but there is power supplied by solar panels and a wind turbine, providing each lodge with electricity for lighting, phone charging and a boiler to give you hot water and heat the radiators in the two bedrooms (yes, it’s a tent with heating!). The main living area comprises the kitchen, a sofa and an armchair, dining table and benches and the huge wood burning stove/oven. There are board games to play, a wide selection of reading materials and nature guides.

The kitchen is well stocked with everything you could possibly need for a week’s holiday - lots of pots and pans (something I think other places often lack), crockery, cafetiere (vital in my opinion!), teapots, cutlery and all the other utensils you’d have at home. There is a Smeg two burner hob, a whistling kettle and a small fridge with a freezer compartment. All the woodwork in the kitchen was made from local sycamore and crafted by hand by the owner. The shelving is open plan and underneath the counter tops are curtains made of green linen.

Every morning, we rolled up the blinds and allowed the sunshine to fill the room. We took our coffee outside on the veranda and enjoyed watching the birds and the boats on the water. I curled up every afternoon and evening with my book on that veranda, a blanket thrown over my legs to keep off the chill and a glass of wine to hand. It honestly was bliss.

Being on the East Coast of Scotland, it gets very cold and windy, so you need to take really warm clothing for those chilly evenings. Thankfully, the two radiators are programmed to come on in the mornings and the evenings, so it’s lovely to get into bed and we were super toasty all night long. But the first night we stayed there, the wind turbine was running all night and it was so loud, we couldn’t sleep. You can turn it off, which we did in the end but you need to remember to turn it back on in the morning otherwise you are likely to have no power! Every day after that, we had beautiful sunshine and the solar panels did all of the work, the wind turbine hardly came on at all and it was lovely and peaceful. We fell asleep every night listening to the waves hitting the shore.

Only a five minute walk away from the safari tent is the local shop at Ardross Farm. Stocking their own homegrown veg along with other local suppliers, they also sell milk, freshly baked loaves of bread, wine, beer, local cheeses and those individual meringues above, which we had with locally grown strawberries and double cream. We came in here every day of our holiday as we cooked in the tent most nights and we even stocked up on our way back to Yorkshire as we loved it so much. The organic salad bags were amazing filled with winter purslane - I’m going to grow some in my back garden this year as it’s such a interesting salad leaf.

We did a lot of walking on the East Coast path, strolling to St Monans on the first day where we saw a piper on the beach playing to the rocks. People sat down on the cliff side to listen to him play and it was a really special moment. He’s in the picture above on the right. When the tide goes out, there are lots of rock pools for the kids to discover, shells to collect or a paddle in the water. Although there are plenty of people walking the coastal path, it’s not a busy place and it’s very relaxing.

Our second day, we took a trip to St Andrews. I haven’t been there for over twenty years, but I always loved it and often thought about moving there one day. Unfortunately, it was so busy that finding a car park space was tricky and we only ended up in a maximum two hour spot. I had hoped to visit the Botanic Garden there and the tropical butterfly house, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, we headed to the wonderful Topping and co bookstore, which is simply a joy. It’s packed to the rafters with books and the buyers really know their stuff. We really were spoilt for choice. There are ladders for the high shelves, the booksellers offer to make you tea or coffee whilst you are browsing and I could happily have spent all day in there. (I can confirm that they had copies of Live Green too!). We bought several books before heading off for a pizza lunch at Mozza, a small Scottish pizza chain who also have branches in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. The pizza was seriously good and they offer a £5 deal before 5pm, so along with drinks, our bill only came to £19! We’ll definitely be heading to the Glasgow branch next time I’m home.

After St Andrews, we took a drive to Crail. It’s a beautiful town with stone cottages and colourful doors as well as the wonderful Crail Pottery. A family business that’s been running for over 50 years, there is an outdoor area with the kiln rooms and a huge selection of garden pots whilst indoors there are teapots, candle holders, crockery and jugs galore. We treated ourselves to two new espresso mugs as we needed some new ones. I only wish I’d bought a few other pieces during our visit as they are just lovely.

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On our last day, we walked to Elie and Earlsferry along the coastal path and headed to the 19th Hole for lunch. It’s a great pub located on the edge of the golf course and the food is simple but really tasty. I can’t say enough good things about the apple crumble cheesecake other than it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. I’m still thinking about it now. Elie is so beautiful with it’s sweeping sandy beaches, elegant houses and quirky shops and cafes. We wanted to go to The Ship Inn in Elie as they have a fantastic sounding vegan menu, but sadly there wasn’t enough time to do everything. I’ve also heard great things about the Elie Beach Cafe which is a vintage blue Citroen van that parks up on the beach and makes fresh crepes and wood fired pizzas in the evening. It wasn’t open on a weekday during Easter which was a shame but you can find their opening hours on their Facebook page here and a little video of the beach at Elie.

We spent five days in Fife and I can honestly say it was the best holiday we’ve ever been on as a family. Everything about it was amazing, from the location and the weather to walking the coastal path everyday. We simply didn’t have enough time to explore all the other little villages like Pittenweem, Anstruther and Cellardyke, but that’s what slow travelling is really about, spending the time intentionally. For us, it was about enjoying the moments, relaxing on the veranda and doing a little star gazing. We’re already looking at returning next year to the East Coast as we all fell a little in love with it.

(Not an advertisement and my holiday was paid for in full).

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