Baskets full of goodies
Artists, food specialists, an enviable sporting legacy, and an abundance of craftspeople provide an interesting mix to this region’s shopping. The creativity that abounds in Fife also lends itself to the imaginative offering of independent shops, from the bigger towns to the coastal villages.
Those looking for souvenirs need not choose the first thing they see which is covered in tartan. The breadth of goods on offer means that it’s possible to get a genuine taste of Fife. If it’s a tasty taste of the area you’re after, then there are many opportunities to buy baskets full of goodies. For those on a tight timescale, check if one of the Fife Farmers’ Markets are nearby. They are held every weekend, with St Andrews held on the first Saturday of every month, Dunfermline on the second, Cupar on the third, and Kirkcaldy on the final Saturday – all from 9am to 1pm. Even if you’re not in town, it’s worth a drive as it will give a literal flavour of the whole area in one place. A top tip is to get there early and have breakfast grazing from the stalls.
Every corner of the Kingdom throws up surprises. In Ceres it might not be too out of the ordinary to find a superb butcher such as the Ceres Butchers in the Main Street but finding the most northerly chilli farm in Europe might change perceptions of the sleepy village. Chillilicious is based on a farm close to Ceres and attracts visitors to see how the fiery little fellows are grown, and, of course, to visit the Farm Shop, with everything from plants and seeds to dried chillis and cooking pastes to chocolate and jams.
On the outskirts of Falkland is the destination for any visitors who are catering for themselves. The Pillars of Hercules Organic Farm Shop is a bit of a haven for the organic foodie. This is where to source ingredients and those who are looking for eco-friendly toiletries and cleaning products.
Cupar is the place for a bit of a treat. There are Fisher & Donaldson bakeries in other towns, but this is the headquarters – for lovers of their exquisite fudge doughnut, it’s a place of patisserie pilgrimage. The traditional service and interior is the perfect backdrop to lush cream cakes, sponges, biscuits, fresh bread and rolls and hot meaty treats. There are also hand-made chocolates.
The breadth of goods on offer means that it’s possible to get a genuine taste of Fife. If it’s a tasty taste of the area you’re after, then there are many opportunities to buy baskets full of goodies
For a taste of the land, visit Cairnie Fruit Farm by Cupar, where it’s possible to pick your own produce and negotiate the tricky maze. The choice is seasonal, but it’s all the better for it. Over at Luvians Bottle Shop, thank goodness the owners have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the fine wines and malt whiskies they sell.
There’s also a Luvians in St Andrews, where they also have an ice cream parlour there. However, it would be a crime to leave the town without visiting Jannettas Gelateria, a traditional ice-cream shop with cafe. There’s usually a queue at the shop but it’s worth it. Enjoy your choice while browsing the independent shops along South Street. People usually take a while to choose from the wide range of traditional and not so traditional flavours – the Turkish Delight is superb. St Andrews has chocolatiers, mouth-watering bakeries and excellent delis.
A short drive from the town is St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company, hand-made at Falside Farm. Jane Stewart is the cheesemaker, using unpasteurised milk from her husband’s herd of Holstein Friesians. Take home some “Anster” cheese or enjoy it as part of a hearty ploughman’s lunch in the cafe. Ardross Farm Shop, near Elie, promotes the best of Scottish agriculture. Here you can buy beef traditionally reared on the farm, fresh vegetables picked the same day, free range eggs, rare breed bacon and local pork, venison, organic lamb and mutton, wild game free range chickens and British wines and beers among other artisan goods.
Of course, when it comes to buying a souvenir, food can’t always be taken home, but Fife has a tempting choice of independent galleries and studios where artists and craft makers produce beautiful and distinctive pieces that will look superb at home and always remind you of that sunny day on a harbour or visiting a historic house deeper inland.
Here you can buy beef traditionally reared on the farm, fresh vegetables picked the same day, free range eggs, rare breed bacon, venison, organic lamb and mutton, among other artisan goods
Gift and craft outlets
Fife Folk Museum in Ceres is also the location for Griselda Hill’s Wemyss Ware Pottery on Kirk Brae. It’s a four-star visitor attraction with shop and visitor centre where you can watch work in progress on the famous pottery.
Distinctive pottery can be found throughout Fife, from Culross Pottery, located in a 17th-century granary in the Sandhaven at the heart of the village. The working pottery is downstairs from the gallery. On the coast, based around an idyllic courtyard, is Crail Pottery. This family business opened in 1965 and offers a wide range of stoneware for the home. Small items for those travelling far and larger pieces, such an earthenware planters, for those who don’t need to worry about flying home!
Nearby Cupar, once the county town of Fife, has a growing number of independent gift and craft outlets. No5 Goldsmiths Ltd offers fine bespoke jewellery and there are several traditional independent shops in the town’s historic Crossgate and Bonnygate.
Market Street is the main shopping thoroughfare in St Andrews but it’s an easy stroll to South Street and North Street, as well as the characterful connecting streets that make this such a magnet for tourists. From galleries to confectioners and boutiques to bookshops, there is little that cannot be bought here.
Fife Folk Museum in Ceres is also the location for Griselda Hill’s Wemyss Ware Pottery on Kirk Brae. It’s a four-star visitor attraction with shop and visitor centre where you can watch work in progress on the famous pottery
Many shopkeepers have stories of the day that Prince William popped in or the then Kate Middleton browsed there. Booklovers will find the day passes quickly once they head into Topping & Company. Stretching well back off the road, it has a monumental selection of Scottish and international literature, as well as notebooks and postcards and literary gifts.
And for a real slice of town history, JG Innes has a wonderfully historic storefront on the corner of Church and South Streets. It was founded in 1879 by brothers John and George who at that time produced the St Andrews Citizen newspaper. Low ceilings are offset by bright gifts and books while you can find virtually anything from a paper clip to high-quality writing paper, art materials and calligraphy pens in the stationery department.
Of course there is a plethora of golf equipment shops. No golfer can leave St Andrews without some sort of reminder of the time they visited its place of birth. St Andrews Links Trust now owns the shop overlooking the 18th fairway of the Old Course where once the grand old man of golf, Old Tom Morris, made and sold golf clubs and balls.
Around the corner on Golf Place, is Auchterlonie’s of St Andrews, established in 1895 by brothers Tom, David and Willie. An absolute must for golf fans is a visit to the oldest golf company trading in St Andrews. Manufacturing clubs since 1881, the St Andrews Golf Company has a shop near the Old Course in St Andrews and its workshop in nearby Largoward. The viewing gallery enables visitors to see first-hand skills still in use in the craft of golf club making.
Low ceilings are offset by bright gifts and books while you can find virtually anything from a paper clip to high-quality writing paper, art materials and calligraphy pens in the stationery department
Preserving important traditions
Largoward is also home to Di Gilpin Ltd, a knitwear design studio, which is at the cutting edge of textile design but also committed to preserving an important tradition that includes using wools that help to conserve UK sheep breeds.
Throughout the villages that line the East Neuk, there are antiques, jewellery designers, galleries and many other places to browse and chat to those who choose to live and work in this idyllic area. Some retail experts can see the value in the pre-loved. At Vintage Quine in Falkland, shoppers can take a trip back to a different era with vintage fashion and accessories, vintage linens, cushions, homeware, new gifts, wrapping paper, and cards.
For large shopping centres and large chain stores, Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Dunfermline are the main destinations. St Andrews has the main supermarkets and some chain clothes shops as well as a covered market, but the mega malls are in the bigger towns. The Mercat Centre is Kirkcaldy’s main shopping mall, with entrance from the High Street, which runs parallel to the town’s Esplanade and has a central pedestrianised section. The town has seen something of a retail renaissance and there are also The Postings, a smaller mall, and the Fife Central Retail Park just outside of town.
Dunfermline also has a pleasant pedestrianised High Street with a great landmark and meeting place with its Mercat Cross. The Kingsgate Shopping Centre has doubled in recent years and now attracts shoppers from much further afield. This is an attractive town to wander, with historic buildings popping up at regular intervals.
In Glenrothes, it’s the Kingdom Centre that attracts dedicated shoppers looking to clothe, feed and entertain the whole family. The centre is in the heart of Glenrothes allowing visitors to explore one of Scotland’s New Towns. So, like the whole area, shopping in Fife can take visitors back to its historic past and show what a flourishing region it is in the present day.
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