Crail, the oldest of the burghs of the East Neuk of Fife, received a royal seal of approval in the 15th century when King James II of Scotland described it as "a fringe of gold on a beggar's mantle". And quite right too, because this is an exceptionally picturesque fishing village and popular tourist destination. Crail's fishing activities date back to the 12th century, as does its lovely old church, which unusually sports an exterior enhanced by patches of green vegetation. The medieval quarter of the town includes Marketgate, which was once the largest marketplace in Europe. The harbour is picture perfect, flanked by a jumble of pretty cottages. There used to be a castle to the east of the harbour, but its ruins were cleared away by a particularly zealous town council in 1706. Crail's Golfing Society was formed in 1786, making it the seventh oldest golf club in the world. Golfers using the course can luxuriate in the bracing sea air coming off the waves lashing the adjacent magnificent coastline. The Crail Museum and Heritage Centre tells the town's fascinating story.
To the north of the town is a disused aerodrome which has been turned into a Raceway. The airfield played an important part during the First World War, when it was a naval air station, and during the Second World War, when, as HMS Jackdaw, it provided a base for planes which took part in the final attack on the Tirpitz in 1944. In the 1950s there was a Joint Services School for Linguists, then the Royal Navy took over and renamed the base HMS Bruce.
Map of the area.