Crail is popular with both Scottish holiday makers and foreign visitors. It is easy to see why.
Crail is a picturesque fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife. The harbour must be one of the most painted and photographed in Scotland and is still a working harbour with crab and lobster landed. You can buy both at ‘The Shack’ in season.
A few minutes’ walk from the harbour finds Caiplie House situated in the middle of Crail’s High street. The High street has much traditional charm and character with a butcher, a baker and a green grocers, a number of cafes, a book shop and the Crail Gallery.
Elsewhere in Crail you will find Crail Pottery, Crail Harbour Gallery and many pretty streets and buildings to explore. Crail is also blessed with 2 great beaches, with golden sand to relax on and rock pools to explore. There are also a number of large grassy park areas, kids play parks and free tennis courts and multi use sports pitch. In the summer there is a putting green too.
There are several walks in and around the village including the Fife Coastal Path which can be taken in either direction. The bus in either direction stops within yards of the house so you can easily base yourself at Caiplie House and cover a large proportion of the route.
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.
Crail hosts a number of festivals and galas throughout the year. Crail Food Festival is in mid June and the Harbour Gala in early August. Crail Festival with something for everything runs in Mid July. For classical music try East Neuk Festival.
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 Crail’s 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.