THE weather forecast for the duration of our stay at the Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort just outside St Andrews had been far from promising.

In fact, it looked very much as if we could not have timed our visit very much worse as we departed.

But as we made our way along the A917 and drew closer to our final destination, the ominous grey clouds overhead suddenly dispersed and were replaced by clear blue skies. The autumnal beauty of the surrounding countryside was soon illuminated up by a brilliant low sun.

READ MORE: Whiskey and whisky tours in Maryland & Virginia: Food and drink tips

“We have our own microclimate over here,” said the nice lady in the reception at Morton of Pitmilly as we, still fearful the Met Office doom-mongers were going be proved correct, booked some indoor activities on our arrival.

Sure enough, not a single drop of rain fell when we were there.

There are few more tranquil and picturesque corners of Scotland to escape to for those seeking to unwind from the rigours of modern life than the East Neuk of Fife when the conditions are fair.

And there can not be many more comfortable, relaxing and stimulating places to base yourself while you are there than the luxury self-catering country cottages near the village of Kingsbarns.

A couple of old university buddies and I – meeting up to eat good food, inhale fresh air, down a few beers, lose money at poker, play guitar badly, reminisce about old times and try to figure out how we on earth we all became fifty-somethings – were billeted in Beechwood in The Steading.

Residents in the boutique house stay in the height of luxury. With king-size beds and en suite bathrooms off each bedroom, we all agreed it was very much the style which we should be accustomed to.

The Herald: Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort near St Andrews proved the ideal base for a bunch of old college chumsMorton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort near St Andrews proved the ideal base for a bunch of old college chums (Image: unknown)

Relaxing on the giant L-shaped sofa in our bright and airy open-plan dining kitchen cum lounge, looking out across the fields to the sea and formulating our plans for the next couple of days, the bustling cities we had all travelled from felt a world away. Dunino Den – a pre-Christian burial site which features a well and an altar stone where, or so local legend has it, ancient druids once carried out human sacrifices – was just a few miles inland. It seemed like an intriguing place to head for on our first morning. Every mini-break should start at a sacrificial altar. Steps have been carved into the rock face and an eerie stillness came over us as we descended down them into the den. New Age types had left a bizarre array of offerings on past pilgrimages.

Coins, ribbons, toys, clothing, fruit and vegetables lay strewn on the ground, pinned to trees and stuffed into crevices. There was something which looked very much like a gourd. Follow the gourd! We followed the road back to the coast instead and went for a stroll along the award-winning beach. One member of our party had brought along his metal detector (still crazy after all these years!) and we took turns scanning the golden sands for buried doubloons as we meandered among the dog walkers and day trippers. It was not difficult to see why it had scooped a Keep Scotland Beautiful gong.

A magnificent golf course which co-hosts the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship every year has put Kingsbarns firmly on the map in recent years. Avid devotees of the Royal and Ancient game now flock to the renowned Kyle Phillips-designed layout from all over the world. They thrashed away as we searched in vain for lost treasure. It was hard to say whose pursuit was more frustrating or fruitless.

Having failed to unearth our fortune, we headed for Crail, enjoyed a walk along the harbour, pottered around the shops and then popped in to The Golf Inn for lunch.

Fish and chips, their speciality, was compulsory. You will be hard pushed to find a fresher or finer bar meal anywhere in the country.

The Herald: The Secret BunkerThe Secret Bunker

We paid a visit to The Secret Bunker – the 24,000 square foot nuclear command centre which was built 100 feet below an ordinary looking farmhouse during the height of The Cold War back in the 1950s, but has now become a fascinating and popular tourist attraction – on our way back to base camp. There is so much to do in the vicinity. You could spend a week or even longer in the area and still not exhaust the possibilities. We only scratched the surface during our brief sojourn. But, at the same time, there is a great deal to make you want to hunker down at Morton of Pitmilly too.

The indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room are small, but guests pre-book for 50 minutes and have access to them all entirely to themselves. There is nothing quite like having your own private pool. Especially when the views are so spectacular.

The Herald: Enjoy the swimming pool at the resortEnjoy the swimming pool at the resort (Image: unknown)

Spa treatments can be arranged in advance. But we opted instead for more strenuous pursuits. Situated a few hundred yards down a farm track from The Steading is the indoor activity centre. It has a tennis court, a badminton court, a fully-equipped gym, a full-size snooker table, a table tennis table, a pool table, a darts board and much more.

We thrashed shuttlecocks, hammered serves, potted blacks, played ping pong and stood at the oche throwing arrows for hours. Some even hit the target.

There are scope for outdoor tennis, boules, croquet, a football pitch, woodland walks and trails and a faerie den for children in the grounds. For canine lovers, there is a dog activity park.

But we were quite content to relax on the patio outside Beechwood with a large glass of red drinking in the stunning vista, watching the sun set and cursing the fact we had to return home the following day after our exertions. Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort, which won the best self-catering experience at the Scottish Thistle Awards last year, is perfect for families, couples or even, as we discovered, old college chums.

Travel facts:

Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort has a variety of one, two, three and four bedroom holiday accommodation. Prices start from £50pp. For more information go to


READ MORE: Scotland travel: New airline routes and destinations for 2024/2025