May 23-25: Cupar, Scotland
We have ten days in Scotland and plan to spend most of it in the Highlands, looking for dead relatives. As an avid genealogist, I try to fit in some family tree work whenever I am visiting the UK. If the Spain and Portugal sunshine was for Erik, then northern Scotland is for me. A few years ago, when I joined ancestry.com, I was able to connect with cousins that I’d never have met otherwise. In some cases, after emailing back and forth a few times, I added some onto my Facebook.
When my 2nd cousin, Jim, heard we would be visiting Scotland, he and his wife, Lorna, offered their home to us for a couple of nights. Since they live just a little north of Edinburgh, right on the way to our destination, we decided to take them up on their offer. It would super to meet real family in Scotland.!
Our Easyjet flight from Lisbon arrived in Edinburgh about 2:30pm, so we collected our baggage, picked up our rental car, and stopped to get cash and a UK SIM card for my phone. It didn’t take Erik long to get used to driving a stick shift on the left side of the road, although we did verbalize “stay on the left” frequently whenever we had to make turns etc. It was only a one hour drive and we were settled into our family “B&B” by supper time.
The small town of Cupar (Pop: 10,000), in the “Kingdom of Fife”, is very pretty with the River Eden winding through, and loads of grey stone buildings. An hour north of Edinburgh, it is only a 20 minute drive from St Andrew’s on the east coast of Scotland. After we settled in and had some supper, Jim and Lorna took us for a walk along the river through town, and we stopped a pub for a beer.
As we were staying two nights, we would have one full day to visit and tour around and so after breakfast the next day, they took us out for a drive with lots of stops. First we drove to the coast, south of St Andrew’,s and had coffee at a little cafe in the pretty seaside village of Pittenweem. We wandered along the shore and took pictures of fishing boats and the sea.
Next, we drove to Falkland, where we stayed three years ago, and which is used as a stand-in for Inverness on the Outlander series, and met another 2nd cousin, Carol, for lunch at a quirky little organic restaurant, called Pillars of Hercules. We had “toasties” (grilled/toasted sandwiches) and ginger beer (my new favourite thing to drink because it’s SO much tastier than ginger ale) and enjoyed lots of laughs with Carol, Jim, and Lorna. The weather was beautiful – warm and sunny – not at all what we had expected of Scotland.
After lunch, Carol left us, and we continued our journey, stopping first for a visit to Falkland Castle. Erik and I bought a year pass to Scotland National Trust for £70 so we can now visit any of their holdings in the UK. It’ll pay for itself if we visit at least three places. There was a guide in each room telling us all about the castle and it was quite interesting to hear the history and see how the other half live.
Afterwards, we drove to Cairnie Fruit Farms and had tea and cake on the outdoor patio. The entire area is gorgeously green and pastoral, and I just adore the rolling hills with stacked stone walls to keep the sheep safe. We picked up some strawberries and ice cream, and then went home where I helped Jim make a vegetarian supper.
Around sunset, 9-10pm, we drove to nearby Hill of Tarvit and walked through the wood and up the steep hill for a spectacular view of the landscape. We were in the midst of a flock of sheep with their young lambs frolicking about and I got some great photos. If it wasn’t for the frequent rain that keeps this land so green, I could easily live here.
We thoroughly enjoyed our two nights in Cupar and it was really special to be able to stay with family we’ve only previous “met” online. I do hope to see them again some time – perhaps they will decide to come to Canada some day!
Next up: The Scottish Highlands