DURING the 19th century it was a thriving fishing port where fish was cured and exported around the globe and more recently it has become a favourite haunt of artists, writers and musicians.
But according to a new tourist guide, the East Neuk village of Cellardyke – one of the most picturesque places in Scotland – does not exist.
The Fife Coastal Path – billing itself as “your essential guide” – has been published by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and promotes 22 tourist destinations on a coastal walk stretching 117 miles from Kincardine on the Forth estuary to Newburgh on the River Tay.
Popular spots highlighted include Shell Bay, Elie and St Andrews. Anstruther – famous for its fish and chip shops – is also highlighted, as is Crail a few miles up the coast. Dozens of Fife businesses are listed with contact details for tourist attractions, hotels, bakeries, shops and public houses
But there is no mention whatsoever of Cellardyke, either in text nor on maps, which has led to anger among many of its residents who rely on tourism to survive.
Trevor Gow, who runs The Haven restaurant overlooking Cellardyke Harbour, said he was “astonished” when he first saw the booklet.
“It is one of the most beautiful spots on Fife’s coastal path with stunning views to the Isle of May. I was amazed there was no mention of Cellardyke. We are an official ‘Welcome Port’ on Fife’s Coastal Path and this is not the first time Cellardyke has been overlooked with regards to signage and other tourist material.”
Other locals echoed his frustration. Martin Dibley, a community councillor for Cellardyke, said: “I find it extraordinary this has happened considering Cellardyke’s history and that it is on the Path.”
Liz Ross, who owns and rents out Curlew cottage at Cellardyke harbour, added: “Cellardyke, with its picturesque harbour and fascinating history, is a gem. It is one village which visitors should definitely not miss out.”
The harbour in the chocolate-box village dates back to 1452 and was constructed with the help of Dutch dyke builders when trade with continental Europe was common. Originally known as Nether, or Lower Kilrenny and the harbour as Skinfast Haven, the name Cellardyke had its origins in “Sil’erdykes”, a local description derived from the glint of fish drying in nets hung over walls.
As the fishing industry boomed during the 19th century, Cellardyke grew and by the 1880s it was a thriving town with 200 boats. After a storm damaged the harbour in 1898 most of the fleet moved to Anstruther and Cellardyke’s industry declined. Famous residents have included Cardinal Beaton of St Andrews, who had a residence in Cellardyke during the 16th century, poet John Burnside and former First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish.
In April 2006, Cellardyke became famous after a dead swan found in the harbour tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.
The guide’s authors acknowledged that not including Cellardyke was a mistake. Simon Phillips, the business manager at Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, said: “We made every effort to make our business listings booklet as comprehensive as possible. However, we accept that Cellardyke was not included and, when local concerns were first raised about this issue, we resolved to rectify the problem as best we could. Cellardyke will be featured in our new book, the Fife Coastal Path Official Guide which will be widely available soon.”
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