She’s every fisher laddie’s dream;
She guts the herrin doon by the quay,
And saves her kisses just for me.”
Ahh Pittenweem (Baile na h-Uaimh in Scottish Gaelic), the beautiful little picturesque seaside village which sits on the coast of the kingdom of Fife. Sitting 11 miles south of St Andrews, the small fishing town with a population of around 1,700 people should be on your bucket list if you’re ever in the vicinity. Famous for its fish which are popular with families all across Scotland, it’s a village with a fascinating yet dark history.
What started off as an early Christian settlement many centuries ago, it was awarded the status of a Royal burgh by King James V in 1541. In 1705 it was the scene of a famous murder, in which a woman named Janet Cornfoot was falsely accused of being a witch and was lynched to death by a mob of locals. It’s history regarding witches is well worth a look into, as it’s very interesting.
The village is one that I hold close to my heart, with several of my relatives living in the village it’s a place where I spent a good number of days as a child visiting. It is also the place where my brother and my papa were laid to rest after they both sadly passed away, my brother loved it so much as a bairn that my parents decided it would be the best place to honour him. So it’s a place that holds a sentimental value to me naturally.
Onto a cheerier note though, if you’ve ever watched the visitscotland promo videos there’s a good chance you will have seen Pittenweem. Which brings me onto my next point, what to do?
The main place to go is the harbour, the views of the village from the pier is incredible. It is such a beautiful view, with the boats, shops and houses in the background it gives you a homely/calm feeling. It’s the type of view you would expect to see on a postcard. If you do visit the harbour then make sure you get yourself down to a place called the ice cream shop, the ice cream is truly phenomenal and with the amount of sweets available which are too good to turn down you’re sure to have a sugar rush for days.
Pittenweem priory was an augustinian priory which was built in 1318. Built over the ancient sacred cave associated with Saint Fillan, there is a stairwell linking the grounds to the cave but this has been closed off to members of the public. Although the site is now a parish kirk for the church of Scotland, the beautiful building still stands and is very impressive to visit. Most of the fortified east gatehouse still stands which can be dated back to the 15th century, as well as the gate house which is described as “one of Scotland’s best-preserved late medieval houses”.
St fillan’s cave is a hidden cave located on Cove wynd down next to the harbour. Being used as a chapel from the 7th century, it became popular with smugglers who used it for centuries but due to them using it as a rubbish dump the cave went off grid for a long time. In 1935 a horse fell down a hole which led to the rediscovery of the cave, and after being cleared of the rubbish it was refurbished and reopened to the public in 2000. The cave has a locked gate, but a key and an information leaflet are available from the Cocoa Tree Cafe which is close by at 9 High St. It costs £1 for an adult and kids go free. The church also occasionally holds services in the cave.
There are several shops located throughout the town, as well as several beaches. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit when it’s sunny (which is a rarity for us in Scotland) then grab an ice cream and go sit down at the beach, it’s honestly sheer bliss.
Pittenweem is a lovely wee village which is the perfect place for a wee day away or a stopover. It is a wonderful example of a traditional Scottish fishing village and the type of place your bound to fall in love with. Happy travels folks!
Cúm Gàidhlig beò!