East Neuk, Fife
Crail is popular with both Scottish holiday makers and foreign visitors. It is easy to see why.
The village boasts a well-known pottery, just a short walk from the harbour, and there is also a short stretch of sandy beach, which is popular with sunbathers, swimmers and canoeists alike. Fresh crab and lobster is for sale at the harbour.
Crail is of course located in prime golfing country with The Crail Golfing Society, one of the oldest clubs in the world, playing at Balcomie Links. St Andrews is only ten miles away with Kingsbarns even closer. Cycling and walking are also very popular with new networks being opened recently. The area is also a haven for artists with the harbour, coastal scenes and local architecture particularly attractive.
Caiplie House is named after Caiplie Caves situated a short distance along the coast to the West of Crail. They are well worth a visit. The red sandstone was cut out by waves in post-glacial times when the lower raised beach was being formed. Monks and pilgrims en route to St Andrews carved crosses in the caves and today local children (and adults!) still try to throw stones through the hole in the south-westerly cliff in an attempt to make a wish come true. Why not give it a go?
A little history
With its charter of 1178 Crail is one of the oldest royal burghs in Scotland. In 1310 Crail was granted the unusual right to hold a Sunday market by King Robert the Bruce. This emphasises the town's historic importance as a centre for fishing and trade.
Among Crails many important visitors was John Knox who preached at the parish church in Crail's Marketgate in 1559. The church itself dates from the 12th century, but has many later additions. Outside the entrance to the church lies the 'Devils Blue Stane', a large rock which is said to have been hurled by the Devil when the church was being constructed. The rock bears a rounded indentation known as 'the Devil's thumbprint'. Crail villagers on their way to battle are said to have sharpened their weapons on the 'thumbprint' to guarantee their victory.
A local delicacy of the area was the 'capon' - a sun-dried or smoked haddock. This particular food is reflected in the shape of the weather vane atop the town's 16th century tollbooth, however foreign trade in this delicacy probably dates back to the 9th century!The harbour was never developed into a deep haven for larger craft and thus Crail’s importance as a port was limited after these times