Difference between revisions of "Fife"
Revision as of 16:55, 2 November 2006
Fife is a county in Scotland.
"The Kingdom of Fife" consists of a number of towns, countryside and coastline. Fife can be thought of in an number of sub-areas:
West Fife which would include areas from Kincardine and Culross (pronounced like "ku-ris") through to Rosyth and Dunfermline.
Central Fife includes the areas around Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Kirkcaldy, Leven and Glenrothes.
North Fife includes areas around St Andrews, Leuchars, Cupar and villages along the Tay, as well as the farmland valleys of the Howe of Fife.
The East Neuk of Fife (pronounced like "nuke") is the coastal stretch beyond Leven leading up to St Andrews taking in villages such as St Monans (with its windmill), Elie (with its Blue Flag beach) and Crail (with its red tile roofs).
Many tourists find themselves paying most attention to St Andrews and the East Neuk. Falkland and Culross are also well worth visiting, and other areas provide facilities and subjects of interest: for example, Kirkcaldy is the birth place of Adam Smith - the "father of modern economics".
The major language (as in the rest of Scotland) is English, but the Fife acccent can be difficult to understand (for those not used to the variety of accent in the UK, and not as difficult as some areas of Scotland). Many people, as in much of the rest of Scotland, use a form of English known as 'Lallans' or Lowlands English which does include some words that you may not be used to (for example "aye" for "yes" or "ken" for "know").
"Braw" is used locally as a word for general approval that you may be unfamiliar with (even having experience with speaking to Scottish people). As in "That'd be braw" meaning "That'd be fine/great", or simply "Braw!" meaning "Great!" or "OK!".
However, you need fear not! Speaking (standard/normal/American/Australian/English) "English" will not make you incomprehensible to Fifers, and Fifers will generally try to make themselves understood to you if you have problems with the dialect (I wouldn't not push it too far in a pub later on in the evening, however).
As with the rest of the UK do not expect foreign language capability to be great, or even good (with the possible exception of areas such as St Andrews where the people are more used to tourists). Most people are educated in French or German, some in Spanish or Italian, but generally not to a conversational level (that they remember!). There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is the most convenient airport for most of Fife. Edinburgh airport is well served from across the UK and some European cities by the likes of BA, BMI, easyJet, flyglobespan, flybe, Scotairways, Lufthansa, Air France and KLM, and now also has direct flights to the USA with Delta and Continental. There's a bus service (747 line) direct to Inverkeithing from the airport, where you can change for another bus or for the train. It takes from 25 to 45 minutes (depending on the traffic). Fares are £4.50 single or "day return", half for children. Otherwise, get the bus/taxi into Edinburgh and catch the train from Haymarket or Waverley. You could of course also hire a car.
Glasgow airport is about a 90 minute drive from the Forth Road Bridge (entryway to Fife).
There is also a small airport in Dundee that has commercial scheduled connections from London City (with Scotairways) - this airport is convenient for some of Fife also. Fife Airport is found in Glenrothes - there are no commercial scheduled flights to this airport.
Trains from Edinburgh (or further south) to Dundee (or Aberdeen) stop at Inverkeithing, Aberdour, Burntisland, Kirkcaldy, Markinch and Leuchars (for St Andrews). You can use the GNER service on the East Coast Mainline directly from London to Kirkcaldy, though this is a long trip. There is also a very good local or 'circle' service which services Dunfermline, Rosyth, Thornton (for Glenrothes, although Markinch is also handy) and other towns.
Use the M90 motorway to access Fife from the north (Perth) or south (Edinburgh). A92 gives access from Dundee/Aberdeen. Also easy access from Stirling to Kincardine/Dunfermline via A985. A92/A985/A91 are major trunk routes through Fife.
Major bus stations in Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Glenrothes, St Andrews and Cupar are served by Stagecoach among others (for example, some Megabus services make stops at Inverkeithing). See above for details of getting to Fife by bus from Edinburgh airport.
Roads are generally good condition and not too crowded.
Bus and rail services are excellent (the 'Fife Circular' service runs from Edinburgh Waverley to all train stations in West and Central Fife. The main line service runs to Inverkeithing in West Fife, Kirkcaldy in East Fife and Leucars in North East Fife.)
Cycle: Excellent series of cycle tracks throughout Fife. http://www.fife-cycleways.co.uk/
Foot: Cross the Kincardine, Tay or Forth Road Bridges and look for the Coastal walk http://www.fifecoastalpath.com/index.asp?cat=Home
St Andrews: home of golf and oldest university in Scotland (founded 1410)
Secret Bunker: a former underground nuclear bunker now open to the public.
East Neuk: charming, photogenic fishing villages (includes Elie - with a blue flag beach, Pittenweem, Crail and Anstruther).
Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery.
Adam Smith Theatre
Get on your bike and enjoy the marvellous cycle routes
Visit the county's many fine parks (Beveridge in Kirkcaldy, Pittencrieff in Dunfermline, Lochore Meadows, etc).
The Bengal Tiger Indian Restaurant at Pittencrieff Street, Dunfermline, near to the park, offers excellent food, and has special half price offers every Sunday to Friday night inclusive.
For Fish & Chips (or Ice Cream!) try the Anstruther Fish Bar, which has won awards. Be ready for a long queue at busy times, though.
The Pavilion in Elie is actually a (golf) pavillion, but offers good food (including local seafood) at a decent price. It's also an Internet Cafe.
If you're more adventurous, try lobster directly by the harbour in Crail (look for the small wooden hut).
Fife has many pubs: The Alpha Bar in Kirkcaldy; The Valleyfield Bar in High Valleyfield; Shardays in Lochgelly all offer a truly local experience.
The Stag Inn in Falkland is a nice pub with a pubby atmosphere. Cash only!
Crime in Fife is low, and serious assaults are uncommon. As always, it makes sense to avoid badly lit areas at night, especially in large towns, even though there is a slim chance of crime. Fife is served by an excellent police service.