One of the brightest jewels in Scotland’s glittering crown, Dunfermline is once visited, never forgotten. Sporting a fantastic High Street, the town centre brims with a beguiling mixture of well-known chains and independent stores. For those aspiring to pick up all they want beneath the same roof, Kingsgate Shopping Centre will gladly take the strain. However, the majority of Dunfermline’s most interesting shops are to be found along the side-streets radiating from High Street. The same goes for cafes, with the wonderfully atmospheric Giacomo joint possibly the best place of all to pause between shopping bursts. I have it on good authority that the café’s interior has barely altered in more than twenty years, its American-styled cubicles as cosy as they are practical. Value-for-money fare comes as standard, with a traditional meat pie topped with mashed potato and beans costing next-to-nothing. Savoury snacks aside, their cakes are well worth a nibble, too.

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Below the main shopping area, Pittencrieff Park reaches out to anybody pining for fresh air along with a cache of peace and quiet. A truly beautiful and breathtakingly extensive tract of land just a short walk from the town centre, it provides a stunning refuge, and it’s not uncommon to see wedding photographs being shot in and around the glen during summer. Descending with the water to the glen’s deepest point, you’d be forgiven for mistakenly believing yourself to be in New York’s Central Park. As if Pittencrieff Park isn’t awe-inspiring enough, the abbey that presides over it adds even more aesthetic appeal to the spiritual environs.

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Come the evening, entertainment options are many and varied. Perhaps the most well-known venue in town, The Alhambra, regularly plays host to musical stage-shows, comedy nights and gigs. Indeed, when we sashayed past, prominent posters were advertising upcoming evenings in the company of Eddi Reader and homegrown heroes Big Country.

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Wholesome takeaway opportunities abound all over town, The Brig a clear-cut favourite amongst all those who’ve heard of the establishment. Serving more deep-fried items than I ever imagined possible, I can’t recommend their fruit pudding and haggis enough. As it happened, I’d just read a review related to comedian Kevin Bridges, the reviewer having quipped how he was one of the best things to come out of Scotland since the deep-fried Mars Bar ducked south.

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Just five miles in a rough easterly direction sprawls Inverkeithing, the mercilessly hilly town in which my wife grew up. From there, as from various points in Dunfermline, the winking lights of the Forth Road Bridge can be seen. Spread on the south side of such a bridge, Edinburgh lays in waiting, just ten miles distant, easily reachable by direct train from Inverkeithing. However, should you crave a refreshing dose of unblemished nature, I’d recommend a trip to Blairadam Forest. There, trails galore radiate from the main car park beside a lively corral of dog kennels. Indeed, if hiking and biking appeal, it’s entirely possible to walk and cycle for mile after mile through some of the most impressive countryside in the region. Just don’t forget your Irn-Bru.

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(Steve Rudd)

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