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Wonderful Anstruther house has beach on two sides and its own castle

Dreel Lodge sits right on the beach overlooking the Fife town's historic harbour. A ruined historic castle in the garden could make a wonderful development project.

Dreel Lodge has an outstanding beachfront setting. Image: Savills.
Dreel Lodge has an outstanding beachfront setting. Image: Savills.

Beaches on two sides. Water on three sides. Dreel Lodge is an extraordinary coastal home.

It’s located on the shorefront at Anstruther in the heart of Fife’s East Neuk. The famous Dreel Burn, after which the house takes its name, runs past the side of the building.

Dreel Lodge dates from the 16th Century and is built on the site of Dreel Castle, which once stood guard over the East Neuk coastline. Although most of the original castle is long gone, a two storey tower still stands at one end of the garden.

Dreel Lodge is ideal for beach lovers. Image: Savills.

Vanessa Robertson and her husband Malcolm bought Dreel Lodge in 2020. “It was during lockdown and you were only allowed to travel within your own county,” she explains. “We lived at the other end of Fife so were able to come and see it.

“They had lots of viewings and I think there were seven offers but we were lucky enough to get the house.”

Vanessa, 53, makes her living as a crime writer. In 2015 she was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors and has gone on to have four books released – Vanishing Point, Don’t Blink, Trace Evidence, and Death Will Find Me.

Writing retreat

A beachfront house must be a wonderful place to write crime novels, especially on a winter’s night with a storm raging outside and waves crashing against the beach.

“You would think so,” Vanessa smiles. “But actually I haven’t done nearly as much writing as I’d like since we moved here. I found it difficult during the pandemic and we also did a lot of work on the house which kept me busy.”

The living room has exposed timber beams and a wood burning stove. Image: Savills.

Since moving in three years ago the couple have completely overhauled Dreel Lodge. They replaced worn out windows with double glazed sash-and-case units. They fitted a new kitchen and boiler. All the bathrooms were replaced and the electrics were upgraded.

Dreel Cottage could not be closer to the beach. Image: Savills.

A large pair of timber gates open into a courtyard parking area. From here the front door leads into a spacious hallway. Vanessa and Malcolm’s enormous, friendly leonberger Ziggy lumbers to his feet to receive some pats from his visitor.

The newly fitted kitchen has a high level window on the courtyard side and two windows that look directly out to sea. There’s a dining table at one end and a large electric Aga.

Living spaces

A pair of glazed doors separates the living room and family room into two distinct spaces. The family room area has a television neatly mounted on an artist’s easel, full height book shelves, and breath-taking views over the beach and harbour. If needed, this room could be closed off from the living room to create an extra bedroom.

Not many kitchen sinks have views like this. Image: Savills.

Vanessa and Malcolm fitted a wood burning stove in the living room, making it the cosiest room in the house during the winter months. Dual aspect windows look over the courtyard on one side and the beach and Dreel Burn to the other side.

Both living and family rooms have wood flooring and exposed timber beams in the ceiling. These have been stripped back to the bare timber, with the floor being left natural and the ceilings painted white.

The bedrooms have a spectacular outlook. Image: Savills.

The ground floor also has a utility room and a modern shower room. Upstairs are three bedrooms, a shower room and a bathroom. The bedrooms all have spectacular views, in particular the third bedroom which looks over Anstruther’s harbour and across the Firth of Forth.

“When you’re lying in bed you don’t see any walls or cars or roads, you just look straight out across the water,” Vanessa says. “I love lying in bed having a cup of tea and looking out the window.”

Beach and sea

The views from Dreel Lodge are wonderful from almost every room. There is a golden sands beach to the front and the side of the house. Because it juts out slightly you have sea views to the front and one side and views across the Dreel Burn to the other side.

Not every house can boast of having its own castle in the garden. Dreel Castle dates from the at least the 16th Century and possibly much earlier, making it one of the most historic buildings in Anstruther.

The two storey tower are the remains of Dreel Castle. Image: Savills.

King Charles II stayed there, as it is thought did Mary Queen of Scots. It was also used as a regular meeting place of the racy, hell-raising local men’s group the Beggar’s Benison.

Today it is a two storey tower with a spiral staircase leading to a rooftop terrace, from where there are outstanding sea views.

Ziggy tackles the tower steps. Image: Savills.

Architect David Blaikie has drawn up plans to refurbish and extend the castle. A modern extension would jut out into the garden while the roof terrace would be turned into a stunning oak framed belvedere room.

A workshop/storeroom is attached to the castle ruins and accessed from the courtyard. This could potentially be demolished to provide a parking space were the castle to be developed.

Outside spaces

Next to the castle is a beautiful private garden. It has a flagstone terrace, an expanse of lawn, and well stocked borders with flowers, trees and shrubs.

Of course the best outside space to sit is the castle’s rooftop terrace, which has a table and chairs to enjoy the fantastic outlook from. However the spiral stone staircase to the roof is hundreds of years old and making your way up and down requires a little bit of care and attention.

The castle’s rooftop terrace. Image: Savills.

“It’s a wonderful spot to sit in the evening sun and have a glass of wine,” Vanessa smiles. “You do need to make sure you don’t drink the whole bottle up there though or getting back down becomes a little bit fraught.”

Vanessa and Malcolm, 53, bought Dreel Lodge with the intention of staying in it for many decades. However Malcolm’s parents live in Edinburgh and are becoming a little frailer so the couple want to move nearer to them. Their son Magnus also studies in Edinburgh so a move will bring the whole family closer together.

Dreel Lodge has one of the best coastal settings in Fife. Image: Savills.

“We really thought this would be our forever home,” Vanessa says. “That’s why we did it up to such a high standard.

“It’s a wonderful house and we’ll miss being here. There will be other houses though, you only get one family.”


Dreel Lodge, Castle Street, Anstruther is on sale with Savills for offers over £795,000