The Howe Trail
The Howe of Fife is the upper reaches of the Eden valley – spreading west from Cupar to the Lomond Hills.
The trail takes you on a loop west from the town – across rich farmland with award-winning ingredients grown and reared that have sustained folk for millennia.
Our tour takes in farm shops, pubs and cafes … and family fun to boot!
Simply click on any of the featured businesses’ links to open their page within our site – to find their location, contact details and links to their own digital channels.
Head out of Cupar on the road that takes you south-west away from the town. You’ll pass the new retail park, Tesco, Aldi and the award-winning Fisher & Donaldson Bakery on your left before heading out on the A914 into open countryside, along the Eden valley.
Springfield – just one stop on the train from Cupar – is a village off the main road that grew in the 19th century on the local linen trade. At its heart is The Springfield Tavern serving traditional pub fayre for ‘dining in’ as well as available for takeaway and local delivery.
Back on the A914, you’ll come to Pitlessie. As you arrive from Cupar, the large building on your left is the now converted Priestfield Maltings – at its peak, producing over 2,000 tonnes of malt. A little further ahead – on the opposite side of the road – is the Pitlessie Village Inn & Pantry – describing itself as a “local village pub with great food“. They also have three double boutique letting rooms and a tearoom that doubles as a function suite – the Pitlessie Pantry.
You’re now driving through some of Fife’s most fertile and productive farmland … next up? Balmalcolm.
You can experience some of the valley’s produce at the award-winning Muddy Boots. In the 1950s, the current owner’s grandma started their first ‘farm shop’ selling freshly-harvested veg from the back door of the farmhouse. Almost 20 years ago, the next generation started selling raspberries from the family tent at the bottom of the farm drive! In 2005, Muddy Boots was created. Today, they have a farm shop celebrating and selling “the best food” that they proudly claim is “approved by us“. Their cafe – built around a spectacular fire – is perfect for those looking to sample some of their home-cooked food … from field to plate. There’s an indoor play area with wooden play, a ball pit, kitchen and car play areas – and an under 3’s area. Outside? There’s year-round family fun for all ages – sledging, zorbing, adventure course, swings, see-saw, giant sandpit, tractors and more!
A short distance heading west is Kettlebridge … and the Kettlebridge Inn, Bar & Italisan Restaurant. This cosy village pub offers “authentic Italian cuisine with some Scottish favourites“. Family friendly with a large beer garden at the rear, it also provides a takeaway service on selected days.
Next, a small zig-zag.
Head back into Kingskettle and then north to Ladybank where you’ll find the Golf Inn at Ladybank– a dog-friendly pub with “a great selection of draught products” and “a good gin and whisky selection“. They have a beer garden and a restaurant serving homemade pizzas and burgers. Most recently, they’ve added a small farm shop selling artisan products. It also has a take-away window serving hot and cold food and coffees.
Through the village – the Lomond Hills are rising out of the valley ahead of you – and join the A92 – turning left. The main road takes you into the village of Freuchie where you can stop to enjoy the Gardeners Rest Cafe at the Bridgend Garden Centre. It started out as a greenhouse – and “a passion to provide strong, healthy, quality plants“. That was in 1968. Today, the same family still run it. Their café is open daily for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, serving hot and cold meals, children’s meals, snacks and salads … as well as “a mouth-watering range of cakes and pastries“.
Also in Freuchie is The Albert Tavern and the Lomond Hills Hotel. The award-winning Albert Tavern is an 18th century coach house and prides itself on its range of real ales and ciders. The Lomond Hills Hotel also dates from the 18th century – starting out life in 1733 as a coaching inn. Their public bar boasts over 52 malt whiskies. Their eatery – The Fraoch Restaurant -operates a “fresh food kitchen” and all of their options are homemade. The hotel also boasts The Adams Suite – licensed for civil weddings and ideally placed, only yards from the Parish Church!
From Freuchie, take the B road (B936) through Newton of Falkland to the next stop on the trail: Falkland.
The picturesque, medieval village was the first Conservation Village in Scotland. Falkland Palace is well worth a visit – inside and out – including time to see the world’s oldest real tennis court. The village has three pubs – The Bruce Inn (opposite the entrance to the Palace), the Stag Inn as well as the public bar at the Covenanter Hotel, Restaurant and Coffee Shop. And when it comes to coffee and tea breaks, as well as the Covenanter, you’ll find Campbells Coffee House & Eatery and The Hayloft Tea Room. Looking for fresh produce? Try out The Townhouse Deli & Bakery and Lomond Fruit & Veg. There are miles of walks to enjoy from Falkland – through the Falkland Estate – including climbs to enjoy the tops of the Lomond Hills.
Heading north-west (take the A912), you’ll soon see signs to the Pillars or Hercules Organic Farm Shop. It started as just two acres and one polytunnel. Today, they manage a wide range of organic fruit & veg, laying hens, orchards and woodland on 15 acres … including a campsite. The shop has a huge range of organic wholefoods, gluten-free foods, vegetarian products, meat, dairy, household, dried goods, beer, wine … in their own words: “a cornucopia of healthy shopping“. The site also includes an open-air cafe – with a vegetarian menu – using their own ‘in season’ salads and vegetables. Homemade & organic cakes, snacks, soups, sandwiches, baked potatoes, pasties and salads – also available for take away.
Back on the road, you’ll soon arrive in Strathmiglo, home to The Strath Tavern … a friendly village pub serving a large selection of beers, wines and spirits plus its own restaurant serving home-cooked food. From the village, join the A91 and start the return to Cupar – following signs to Auchtermuchty. You’ll pass through farmland that’s owned by Crafty Malsters – a family-run business whose team come from a long line of passionate farmers. They know a thing or two about growing quality Scottish grains! The barley produced on their farm has always been sold for malting, but its final destination was unknown. They have worked to change that – to ensure that every grain tells their story and every customer understands the journey it has been on. 100% of their products are sown, grown, harvested and malted by Crafty Maltsters … a combination of generations of knowledge and modern malting equipment that makes them unique.
When you reach Auchtermuchty, turn left into the village and park to explore. Until 1975, the village was a Royal Burgh in its own right, granted under charter of King James V in 1517. ‘Muchty – as it is known to many – used to have its own distillery. Stratheden Whisky Distillery operated from 1829 until it was forced to close just under 100 years later after Prohibition in the USA impacted so badly on trade. Today, you’ll find a whisky or two at The Boar’s Head – a traditional pub and restaurant experience “with a modern twist“. Their menu offers a great variety of dishes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Looking for a coffee and cake? Try The Old Barn Coffee Shop on Cupar Road. The dog-friendly stop serves a delicious range of homemade cakes, bakes and treats … including treat boxes. Needing any ‘on the go’ supplies? Pop to the Co-Op on the High Street.
A slight detour off the trail – south from ‘Muchty ‘ takes you to Dunshalt. It is the first village in Fife to take its only shop into its own hands and run it as a social enterprise – for the good of the community. The Dunshalt Community Shop is a project that has inspired huge support, both from local people and national organisations including, the Scottish Land Fund, the Prince’s Countryside Fund, the European LEADER Fund and the National Lottery. Together, they have provided funding for the community to buy the derelict village shop and renovate the building into an attractive grocery shop and community hub. Over £31,000 has also been invested by the community who bought shares in their shop – safeguarding it for the village and ensuring that all the money it makes is put back into supporting the shop and other community projects. It is very well-stocked, selling quality groceries, local produce as well as newspapers, flowers and firewood. They also operate a little dog-friendly café and takeaway, serving coffee, teas, hot food and homemade soup, cakes and sandwiches.
Retrace your steps to the A91 and head east towards Cupar. At the junction for Collessie, take a right turn and follow signs to the Fife Zoo. Africafé is the attraction’s food & drink offering – right next to the main entrance. Their unique, eco-friendly coffee shop has a wide selection of coffee and teas, plus freshly made lunches, cakes and vegan snacks. They’re committed to protecting the environment: all the food they sell is ethically sourced and, where possible, locally made. Their coffee is triple-certified. You won’t find any single-use plastics and they only use certified palm oil in their products. All takeaway and disposable products are 100% compostable, eggs are free range and the apple and orange juice cartons are Fairtrade. Right outside the cafe is their outdoor play area … in full view of the café’s seating area. The play area – suitable for both toddlers (with adult supervision) and older children – is surrounded by wonderful wild flowers and plants.
Back to the A91 … and the animal theme continues with a fianl stop on our trail at the Scottish Deer Centre. Set in 55 acres, the collection includes 12 species of deer from around the world, Fife’s only wolf pack, otters and other rare Scottish species … including the Wildcat. They also have the Raptor World Bird of Prey centre. At the entrance courtyard you’ll find their café, serving light meals, home baking, freshly ground coffee and a selection of teas. There is always a kids menu on offer.
The final few miles takes you back into Cupar. Thanks for reading.