I don’t know enough about geology to know why it has that special reddish tinge from the sandstone or is it crustaceans? It’s certainly very different to the silvery sands formed of shells on the west coast.
Even off season, Elie a delightful place to be. I was lucky enough to stay in the flagship property of Elie Select. The West House sleeps 18 people. 18 people! Think of the house parties you could have!
Built to accommodate a Reverend centuries ago it has all the features like bell pulls and pantries but it has been tastefully, comfortably and excitingly restored. It has curved windows with window seats and any kind of book you could wish for. Every piece of furniture and ornament has been carefully chosen for comfort, intricacy and colour not just practicality Every detail delighted me.
Each bedroom is its own world of artworks, beautiful wall papers, views and antiques. There’s even a Mediterranean style garden to look down on at the back and a place to eat above the sea wall that makes you feel like you’re al fresco on the Amalfi coast.
January is, of course, off-season. So I was free to roam and explore the village without day-tripping crowds. At the harbour I met people who wanted to chat and invite me to join in even row the 2 skiffs that were plowing back and forth across the bay.
Intrepid dinghy and windsurfers ignore the temperatures. Kite-surfers satisfy their thirst for adrenaline providing dramatic entertainment for all. Then of course, there’s golf. No less than 2 links courses!
Walking round the village you are struck by the eclectic range of lovingly restored and maintained buildings that date back to the 16th century. The rendered walls and window frames embrace colour so it almost feels Italian. There’s the harbour and a lighthouse to explore. Elie had a ferry terminal Earlsferry, for crossing the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh. It even had a railway for Victorian tourists.
These early months are the time to enjoy the dawn and the sunsets with a dog which are welcome in most properties. My collie was ecstatic.
I was astonished at the wind chill as the temperature in sunshine was warm, but the houses are all built for it and the heating system in the West House despite its giant size was a delicious temperature throughout. It is a wonderful time to duck indoors, light the fire and entertain friends. It is still the season to start that novel, learn to play bridge or catch up with old friends in Elie.
Fife’s East Neuk has a chain of harbour villages along the Fife Coastal Path. On the Sunday, 9 dolphins came into Elie Bay. Walkers often spot whales, seals and porpoises. This is also a seabird watchers paradise.
Many of the local eateries were closed in January to regroup after a very busy Christmas and New Year. The infamous Ship Inn which has its own cricket team that plays on the beach at low tide, had every table booked so I hopped in the car and drove through St Modan’s to the active fishing village Pittenweem just 4 miles away and still beautifully lit with festoon lighting. I was after fresh fish and chips but on top of that experienced the local dialect and banter and gave my address to the fish van that will deliver to villages far and wide across Scotland.
Leaving Elie heading Southward a call in to Lower Largo revealed an incredible bridge, the Robinson Crusoe statue and the delicious Aurrie Cafe. Local artists jewellery, paintings and photography books can be found here.
Next time I will walk the coastal path for a bit of wildness from Elie and catch a bus or lift home. My journey home to Stirling took me through stunning scenery via Dollar and as I passed the crags 3 gliders were circling on the hot currents.
Elie Select won the Boutique Holiday Agency of the Year in 2021 so houses are booking up fast in 2022.
If you have a special occasion to celebrate, a golfing party, a need to retreat, or are looking for a super fun family holiday to suit all ages check out the availability on
If the first house you choose isn’t available just click on a different house.
You are sure to have the very best of times in Elie.
Olivia Spencer, guest writer