Travel: Morton of Pitmilly, near St Andrews, Scotland
With two kids under the age of three and two full time jobs, a short weekend break was high on the agenda for me and my wife, Tara. Bouyed by the thought of two nights by the Fife coast, we even agreed to bring the children with us.
We loaded up the car and headed out of Edinburgh over the Forth Bridge and into the grand Kingdom of Fife on a Friday lunchtime. Morton of Pitmilly was our destination. Its location, just five minutes’ south of St Andrews, meant we were standing in the reception area, marvelling at the fresh eggs from the farm’s hens and numerous other bits of honesty box produce in less than two hours.
The four and five-star accommodation in converted farm buildings and new builds comprises 16 holiday homes in both steading and cottage-style. There are various sizes to suit any combination of couples and families.
On the weekend we journeyed north, the weather decided to play its part with clear skies throughout, offering an awe-inspiring view across fields to the North Sea beyond from the large bay windows of our accomodation.
We stayed in the rather quaintly named Bramble Bank, however there is very little quaint about it. This five star boutique house which sleeps six has three bedrooms upstairs, all with en-suite shower rooms, the main kingsize bedroom offering an even grander view out to the sea.
There is also a bathroom on the ground floor – perfect for those with young children who wish to spare their knees from repeatedly running upstairs.
Its extremely spacious living area is ideal for get-togethers whilst the modern fitted kitchen includes an American-style fridge-freezer, separate wine fridge, gas cooking range, dishwasher and a washer-dryer. The house is fitted with underfloor heating throughout while French doors lead from the living area to an outside patio area with table and chairs.
As my wife and I loaded the wine fridge and eyed the patio, our children pined for action so it was on with our jackets and off out to explore. The onsite facilities include a swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, gym and children’s play area while all around the estate are numerous woodland walks and trails.
We beat a path directly to the pool where our younger son, Liam, enjoyed splashing about while his big brother, Conor, practised his divebombing. Afterwards we took advantage of the DVD hire facility to get out Disney’s Planes – and the patio and wine edged ever closer.
Next morning we splashed about in the swimming pool again and also took a wander over to the farm’s hen houses where Conor took great delight in marvelling at/tormenting the many chickens.
Back in the cottage we planned our day. There’s lots to see and do, including taking the Eden Mill Distillery tour which produces its own gin, whisky and beer, or visiting the Sea Life centre in St Andrews or the Secret Bunker – a Second World War visitor attraction in nearby Anstruther.
We settled on a jaunt into St Andrews and a tour of the cathedral ruins. The weather again was bright and sunny, if a little windy, and we enjoyed a long walk around the town and along the West Sands.
Upon our return the kids mucked about at the children’s play area and on the trampoline before playing an impromptu game of football with children from one of the neighbouring cottages. We burned their last remanining drop of energy with another dip in the pool.
On the Sunday the kids and I enjoyed a lazy morning in the large open plan living area while Tara tried out the various spa facilities located alongside the large indoor tennis court.
Run by former competitive tennis player Eilidh Smith and her stepfather John Parker, Morton of Pitmilly is home to Scotland’s only indoor tennis complex. Tuition is offered by Smith, who is a qualified tennis coach.
You can also book a foodie break with Fife food ambassador Christopher Trotter leading guests on culinary tours followed by workshops on how to cook the products from the local larder.
Though self-catering, there are a range of frozen meals from COOK (www.cookfood.net) at reception, with choices such as Hearty Fisherman’s Pie and Roasted Vegetable Lasagne.
Reception also has an honesty box full of kitchen staples such as bread, milk, tea, coffee and various snacks. Food hampers and butcher’s packs can also be pre-booked.
When Tara got back from the spa we wrapped the kids up and headed back into St Andrews with our bicycles, for an afternoon cycling along the West Sands and the promenade, with the coastal bike path hugging the sea all the way to Leuchars.
We left Morton of Pitmilly the next day and returned to Edinburgh, refreshed and recharged, and planning a larger family get-together at the site later in the year.
A four-night break at Bramble Bank cottage costs £860, however shorter stays are available from £50 per person per night. The indoor tennis court costs £10 per hour. For further information see www.pitmilly.co.uk