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29 October 2014
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COAST
Gyles House
Gyles House
If Newark Castle was the home of one of the most significant figures of the British Civil Wars of the middle 17th century, then Gyles House at picturesque Pittenweem harbour was the home of an incidental figure whose small part in the great drama unfolding was to have immense consequences.

After the execution of Charles I, Presbyterian Scotland turned against its erstwhile Puritan allies in England and Charles II was crowned King at Scone in 1650. The first act of the new king was to bring his Scottish Covenanting army south, to recapture the English part of his kingdom. However, in a pattern that was to be repeated throughout the Jacobite era, he did not listen to his military commanders and was completely routed at the Battle of Worcester.

What followed was a series of frantic efforts to smuggle the young king out of the clutches of Cromwell, and the certainty of a similar fate to that which had befallen his father. For forty five days Charles remained in the country before he was spirited off to the continent in a coal ship.

Gyles House
Gyles House

The captain of the ship was a James Cook, who had commissioned the building of Gyles Hopuse here at the harbour of Pittrenweem. However, aside from its historical associations, the building itself is of great importance, being one of those selected by the National Trust for Scotland for renovation.

The National Trust's Sma' Houses Scheme provides for the renovation and rescue of some of the greatest examples of significant Scottish vernacular architecture, and this house certainly fits the bill, rivalling those of the village of Culross with its trademark gables.

Gyles House is now a Grade A listed building, functioning as a B&B, with superb period features inside including the original fireplaces and timber wall panels.

Directions: from here you are following the Fife Coastal Trail all the way along the pathway. It's well marked and sign-posted along the way, though steep and not suitable for wheelchairs in several parts. Stop for a snack in Pittenweem, or if you can hold-off till Anstruther, get chips at the end of the walk.

 

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