Although my cold wasn't completely gone, I decided it was time to get back on the road and head north again through Fife. I have already explored a good bit of the Fife coast so I only really planned to spend a day in the region with plenty of photo stops of course as it is a rather photogenic part of the country.
I had also left Willow behind for a few days which meant I was free to do some activities that weren't so dog friendly.
My first stop was Culross, one of my favourite places in the country and even in the morning it was already busy with tourists, partly due to the Outlander effect as this is the filming location used for the fictional village of Cranesmuir. You can read more about Culross and other Outlander filming locations in Fife in this blog post.
The East Neuk of Fife is brimming with colourful and characterful towns and villages including my next stop at St Monans.
At my next stop in the equally pretty Pittenweem I had arranged to catch up with fellow travel blogger, Nicola from Funky Ellas Travel. I got to know Nicola through my year in Scotlanders and although I've since left, we still keep in touch. It was great to catch up with her for lunch and a chat, do pop over and check out her blog for lots more Scottish travel tips.
It wouldn't be right if I met up with a fellow Scottish travel blogger and we didn't do some exploring together so we ventured to St Fillan's cave, once used by smugglers and later became a focal point for pilgrimages. The little smiling rock outside made my day, I'm easily amused!
Not having Willow meant I could pop in to the Scottish Fisheries Museum at my next stop in Anstruther and find out more about the history of fishing in Scotland. A series of galleries and interesting displays really helped me understand more about how the industry has shaped Scotland's coastal way of life and was a really relevant education for my trip.
Berthed in the harbour outside the Fisheries Museum you will find the Reaper, a historic ship which featured in the first episode of Outlander Season 2 when Jamie and Claire arrive in France.
The scene was actually filmed not far away in Dysart, this is a photo I took of the ship on the film set of Outlander last year.
As I was passing through Crail I just had to stop at this giant sand sculpture which had been created to commemorate those left behind after the Battle of the Somme with all donations going to Erskine Hospital which has been caring for veterans since 1916.
My journey continued through the centre of St Andrews and although I didn't stop this time, you can find photos from one of my previous visits here.
Crossing from Fife and in to Angus, I could feel my energy quickly fading and decided it was time to rest for the evening. On a whim I followed a camping sign for Tayview caravan park in Monifeith, another place I had never been until this trip. The weather was typically undecided, pouring one minute then sunny the next and I suddenly felt overwhelmed with tiredness thanks to my lingering cold so when I discovered I could have a glamping lodge complete with TV for only £13 more than a tent pitch, I was sold! For £40 I could stick the kettle on, watch TV, open the patio doors and enjoy my dinner alfresco with a view of the Firth of Tay. After I was fuelled I enjoyed a walk along the beach before falling in to bed, bargain!
The next morning I stopped for a closer look at some modern standing stones near the beach with an inscribed verse from the poem 'The Wild Geese' by Violet Jacob, all about longing for home.
'And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
A lang, lang skein o’ beatin’ wings, wi’ their heids towards the sea,
And aye their cryin’ voices trailed ahint them on the air –'
Another sculpture that caught my attention before leaving Monifeith was 'The Welder' outside Tescos. It was looking a bit rusty and past its best, however it interested me as it celebrated a little piece of local history. On the site of the sculpture had stood the Monifeith Foundry in 1811 which had employed around 300 people from the local area by 1880 and although there is no trace of it today, it is nice that an important industry from the town's past hasn't been completely forgotten.
My next stop was Arbroath, home of the famous smokie and with the scent wafting across the town I couldn't resist a mid-morning fishy snack as i wandered around the harbour.
Travelling around the coast and witnessing the sometimes terrifying power of the sea really gives you a respect for the RNLI and all its volunteers. By the time I got to Arbroath I had already passed countless RNLI boats and stations along my journey, what an amazing service they provide.
Arbroath Abbey is a must visit and I really enjoyed the exhibition on the Declaration of Arbroath which has a tendency to stir up certain feelings with regards to Scottish independence, much the same way as watching Braveheart does (yes I know it is factually incorrect but I still love it!).
There is a lot to explore despite it mainly being a ruin so allow yourself more time than you think,
Although not quite beach weather, I had to pop down to see Lunan Bay, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. There is also a nice cafe next to it which does some pretty huge slices of cheesecake!
There are also pigs!
Leaving Angus and heading through Aberdeenshire, the sun started to appear and the landscape began to change again.
When I was at Arbroath Abbey I had a chat with the loveliest visitor assistant who gave me some tips to do in the area. One of them was to visit the RSPB reserve at Fowlsheugh which I would definitely have missed had she not written down directions. Thanks to her I enjoyed a seat on the cliff top, watching thousands of seabirds soar around me or huddle on the ledges next to me. The cacophony was deafening and the smell almost overpowering at times but what an awesome spectacle and the location was pretty dramatic too.
If there is one iconic coastal castle I couldn't miss then it had to be Dunnottar. I didn't have time to navigate all the steps up and down to visit inside but sitting opposite and admiring the view was rewarding enough.
One of the things I've still to tick off my Scottish bucket-list is a trip to the Stonehaven Fireball Ceremony but until then I made do with sitting in the sun, enjoying an ice-cream milkshake by the harbour instead.
Having been to the most southerly point of Scotland at Mull of Galloway, it was time to visit the most easterly mainland point, although there is some dispute about where this is.
I went with Buchan Ness although Keith Inch which was once an island and now forms part of Peterhead harbour also claims that title, it's dependent on whether you class an island that has been incorporated into the harbour as part of the mainland, personally I think it is cheating slightly and decided not to!
I had some pretty unique accommodation arranged for that night at the coastal carriage in Rosehearty near Fraserburgh. I will be writing a full review on my stay here which was quirky and peaceful, what more could you ask for? I absolutely loved it and enjoyed the most stunning sunset which never seemed to end, watch out for my blog post all about it very soon.
Before settling in for the night I headed down to Fraserburgh and the busiest fishing harbour I have ever seen, with the biggest fishing boats I have ever seen! They reminded me more of mini cruise ships and I must admit this is an area of Scotland I really don't know or fully understand yet as it is so different to anywhere else I have been. This is an area that I definitely need to spend more time in and get under the skin of.
The sunset that night seemed to go on and on until it eventually became a sunrise. I woke up a couple of times during the night and headed out in my pyjamas to make sure I wasn't dreaming the hypnotic blues and burnt oranges that streaked across the horizon. A truly beautiful experience and one of my best memories from the trip.
The following day I intended to follow the coast to Inverness and reunite with Willow for more dog friendly adventures but as it turned out I received an e-mail that would see me alter my plans...
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