A Winter’s Week in St Andrews: The Scottish Town That Will Capture Your Heart

Happy Sunday everyone, today’s travel post is all about the incredible town of St Andrews, a perfect destination no matter the weather. My family and I spent a beautiful week staying here, a place we have all loved and have grown up adoring. If you appreciate beaches, harbours, and gorgeous sunsets, all set in a historic and scenic setting, then you will fall in love with St Andrews!

The Castle Sands and Harbour

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The town of St Andrews is on the East coast of Scotland, North of Edinburgh, and about a half hour drive away from the city of Dundee (which is also worth a visit if you are in the area). St Andrews is famous for its golf courses, St Andrews University, and its idyllic coastal setting. The town is perfect for a day trip if you enjoy walking and learning about Scotland’s history, but it also makes a great holiday if want to take a longer trip.

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The house we were staying in was right behind the sea front on North Castle Street, right by ‘The Scores’, the famous street that runs along the St Andrews sea front. Due to being a popular tourist destination, there is a huge variety of accommodation to pick from in St Andrews, from hotels, houses, and bed and breakfasts. We found that staying near the centre was great as we were near to Market Street, this is the high street where there are lots of shops and good places to eat and drink. But we were also very near the beaches and the coastal walks.

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We went for a brisk walk along to the harbour every morning of our trip, the house was also just a couple of minutes walking distance from the harbour, a great place to see the town awakening each morning after the sunrise. Almost every morning we saw herons down on the rocks by the harbour, incredibly majestic animals which were fascinating to watch. My Uncle managed to take this incredible photograph of one of them!

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The photo below shows the coastal path that you can follow right along from the Scores, along side the cliffs to the harbour, there are benches and tourist information boards along the way. It makes a great place to bring a picnic in the summer, but even in winter it was still very enjoyable.

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The West Sands Beach

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The West Sands is just a 15 minute walk from the town centre, and if you’ve seen the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ you will recognise this beach from the opening scene. The beach is about 2 miles long and is very close to the famous ‘Old Course’ which is a very popular tourist destination for golf fans, especially in the summer months. The beach makes a serene and peaceful walk, even if there are other people around it still feels this way. There is parking at the beach, and the golf museum and toilets are also close by.

 

St Andrews Cathedral

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Despite our many trips to St Andrews, we had never visited St Andrews Cathedral, and it was well worth the visit! The cathedral, now in remains, was once Scotland’s biggest cathedral and most important church. The museum has some extremely interesting artefacts and information boards, dating from early medieval times. St Rule’s church (on the cathedral site) is estimated to have been built in 1130, and the cathedral begun in 1160. It was finally complete in 1318, Robert the Bruce was present for this momentous occasion in Scotland’s history.

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Here is a link to the Visit Scotland website which has more information about the cathedral if you are planning a visit. The staff who worked in the museum and gift shop here were also very helpful.

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We climbed to the top of St Rules’ Tower, which can be seen the photo above, it is about 33m tall. It was an extremely narrow and steep climb but the view at the top was certainly worth the hike. You get a panoramic view of the town, and all the way out to sea. The weather was lovely on the day we went so the sun made the view even more glorious. There is a fee to pay in order to visit the cathedral, but it is not expensive, and you can also get a discount if you get a ticket to visit St Andrews Castle which is just down the road.

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The East Sands Beach

The East Sands is also just along from the harbour and is a very short walk from the town centre. You can also get a great view of St Andrews castle from here, and to the West Sands in the distance. This beach is usually quieter due to it being a bit rockier and further from the town centre, so if you want an even more peaceful beach to stop off at and watch the seabirds then this spot is ideal.

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This photo was taken just outside of the house we were staying in and shows St Andrews Castle, we did not visit the castle on this trip but it looks like another great place to go if you are visiting St Andrews. There is more information about the castle on the Visit Scotland website which can be found here.

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Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world, and that you get to experience St Andrews and all it has to offer. Let me know if you have ever visited!

Mol x

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A Sunny Day in Edinburgh: What to do as a Tourist

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” – Alexander McCall Smith

One of the most vibrant and fascinating cities I have visited. I am lucky enough to have several members of my family living in the bustling city of Edinburgh, a place that never seems to tire, no matter how many times you visit.

On this day, it was 30 degrees Celsius! For Scotland this is incredibly hot weather so I decided to have a tourist day out for myself  to make the most of the scorching sunshine.

I have been visiting my family who live in Bruntsfield, which is just a mile from the city centre. After having 7 years on dodgy and damp school buses I’m not usually one to enjoy a bus journey, but the 23 bus route going past the National Portrait Gallery, Greyfriar’s Bobby statue, and past the Royal Mile to the middle of Prince’s Street was surprisingly enjoyable!

If you are visiting Edinburgh, here is what I did to fill a beautifully sunny day, with many of these things being free!

The National Gallery, Prince’s Street

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Entry is free, WOOHOO! (Exhibition events may require payment)

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Opening hours are 10am-5pm and Thursdays until 7pm

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I do not have the best knowledge of artwork or artists, but there are some very well known artist’s work in the gallery such as Monet, Van Gogh and Botticelli among others such as Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer. The gallery is beautifully set out, the deep shades of maroon, forest green and tones of blue provide a striking contrast between the intricate gold frames that the paintings are embedded in.

The information boards around the gallery also make it very easy to learn more about both the paintings and their creators. There is seating inside the gallery, and it caters well for buggy and wheelchair access, there is a lift too. I went at around 11 am and it was not very busy at all, do bear in mind though that it is currently the school holidays in Scotland so it could be busier later in the day.

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The Royal Mile

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After coming out of the National gallery, I walked up the winding steps on the left of the gallery and if you keep walking up the hill (the mound) then you will get to the Royal Mile, the rows of old buildings and Scottish themed shops that leads you from the old town to the top where Edinburgh Castle is majestically stood.

From buskers to street artists, the Royal Mile is all you need to showcase the vibrancy of the city, from buskers, street artists to people selling whisky, and there are always melodies of bagpipes to be heard in the distance!

Despite there being large groups of tourists, and people everywhere it does not feel overcrowded, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, people from all over the world enjoying the patriotism and pride of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

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As you can see from the photos, Edinburgh Castle towering in the blue skies is a spectacle to behold.

The photo above is the entrance to the Castle (at the top of the Royal Mile), but if you just wish to walk up to here and take a picture then this is free up to this point.

I paid £18.50 for an adult entry ticket which as a student, seemed expensive, however since being in the castle, you are easily able to spend a few hours there and are able to make the experience worth the price.

Also bear in the mind that the queue may take about half an hour or more in case you are planning around a time frame!

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This was the view of Edinburgh from the castle, an incredible photo opportunity on a sunny day like this one

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I was surprised at how much time I was able to spend in the castle and how many things there were to see. The Stone of Destiny and the Scottish crown jewels were. Some of the highlights of  things to see in the castle were St Margaret’s Chapel- the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Scottish crown jewels, the war prisons and the firing of the one o’clock gun is a great tradition to see if you are there at that time!

Discover more about things to do at the castle here!

Prince’s Street Gardens

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Again this is a free attraction, the atmosphere on days like this one was lovely, there were lots of people having picnics and making the most of the sunshine

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If you walk far enough along you are able to see the castle stood proudly in the distance. The gardens are below where the National Gallery is

This was a lovely and relaxing end to a day of walking and sightseeing, a relaxing seat in the park surrounded by the technicolor displays of flowers.

There are so many incredible things to do and see in Edinburgh, and you can fit a lot into just one day as I found out!

Thanks for reading,

Mol

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