The key to St Andrews lies not only in its beauty but in its accessibility from Scotland’s major cities. Jo Morgan gives us her guide to getting to know Scotland’s favourite coastal town.
Nestled on the east coast of Fife, less than two hours away from Glasgow and Edinburgh, the picturesque seaside town of St Andrews boasts world famous golf courses, ancient medieval ruins, golden beaches galore, dozens of bars and restaurants and a great independent shopping scene. There really is something for everyone, with a hidden gem around almost every corner - from long sandy beaches to sticky toffee buns.
Castle and Cathedral
St Andrews Castle was home to Scotland’s leading Bishops in the Middle Ages, when the town was the epicentre of religion. It’s a real gem; with an informative visitor centre, the impressive ‘Bottle Dungeon’ and spooky underground tunnels to explore. A handy tip is to buy a ‘combination ticket’ which will also give you access to St Andrews Cathedral and St Rules Tower. For a breathtaking (quite literally) view of St Andrews, climb up to the top of St Rule’s tower and prepare to be blown away (not literally). The medieval streets are often at their most convincing in the dark hours so why not scare yourselves senseless and go on a Witch’s Tour?
St Andrews Castle and Cathedral 01334 477 196, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
St Andrews Witches Tours run at 7.30pm on Thu, Fri & Sun nights, 01334 655 057, www.standrewswitchestour.co.uk
For the golf fans amongst you a visit to the Old Course is a must. Why not take a wander to the Swilken Bridge and follow in the footsteps of the worlds greatest golfers. The Old course is public land so access is allowed - just make sure to look out for golfers in action and avoid being their moving target. But be warned, playing golf in St Andrews can be an expensive business so why not opt for a round on the Himalayas? Situated adjacent to the 17th fairway, this 18-hole putting course costs a mere £2 and you can tell your friends you played golf in St Andrews. Genius!
The Himalayas is open Mon-Sat 10.30am-6.30pm and Sun noon-6.30pm.
When it comes to golden sand, in St Andrews you are spoilt for choice. Behind the Cathedral lies the harbour and East Sands and below the Castle lies... err... Castle Sands. But the most impressive of the beaches is West Sands, which lies beside the Old Course. The famous running scene in Chariots of Fire was filmed here, so expect to see a number of numpties recreating the scene. At the far end of the beach there is a dedicated ‘Kite Zone’ which is home to the ever popular kite surfers and land yachters. Fancy giving it a go?
Traction Kiting offer a variety of courses for beginners from £50 for two hours, www.tractionkiting.co.uk.
After your action packed day you’re no doubt going to be feeling a bit peckish and in need of some re-fuelling. Here at The Midgie we know the perfect treat to tide you over until dinner time - Head to Fisher & Donaldson’s bakery and sample one of their famous sticky fudge doughnuts. Actually, it’s unlikely you’ll be able stop at just one - but do try and exert some self control!
Fisher & Donaldson Bakery, 13 Church Street, St Andrews, 01334 472 201.