ST ANDREWS, WITHOUT GOLF
St Andrews is the home of golf (how many appraisals of the place can have started with this sentence?). Anyone taking a golfing break knows this!.
What is perhaps less well appreciated is that St Andrews is a legitimate tourist attraction in its own right, and an ancient seat of learning, with all the associated pleasing aesthetics that lend such places their unique character. The university now boasts Prince William and Kate amongst it’s most recent alumni. Outside of Oxford and Cambridge it is the third oldest university in the English speaking world. Half the population are students, and the other half seem to be involved with golf.
The ruins of St Andrews Castle are situated on a cliff-top to the north of the town. The castle was first erected around 1200 as the residence, prison, and fortress of the bishops of the diocese. Several reconstructions occurred in subsequent centuries, most notably due to damage incurred in the Wars of Scottish Independence. The castle was occupied, besieged and stormed during The Rough Wooing and was severely damaged in the process. The majority of the castle seen today dates to between 1549 and 1571, but fell into desrepair over the centuries until such time as it became the atmosperic ruin.
The ruins of St Andrews castle are a gentle walk from the town centre
The ruin of greater historical significance lies to the east of the town centre, St Andrew’s Cathedral. This was at one time Scotland’s largest building. St Rule’s Church, to the south-east of the medieval cathedral is said to date from around 1120 and 1150, being the predecessor of the cathedral. The tall square tower, part of the church, was built to hold the relics of St Andrew (Scotland’s patron saint). After the death of Bishop Robert Kennedy (not that one!), a new cathedral began to be built in 1160 by Bishop Arnold (his successor) on a site adjacent to St Rule’s Church. Work on the cathedral was finally completed and consecrated in 1318 by Bishop William de Lamberton with Robert ‘the Bruce’ present at the ceremony.
The ruins of St Andrews cathedral
The beach is also worth spending some solitary time walking along as the waves roar into the bay. This isn’t a sun-kissed beach, it’s wild and untamed, and on a windy day gets you little bit closer to the raw energy of the sea. It also features in the opening title sequence to the Oscar winning film ‘Chariots of Fire’ should you feel compelled to run along it in slow-motion with the bars of Vangelis whirring round your head.
Run along the beach to the strains of ‘Vangelis’ (actually, most people don’t!)
Above all else, if we were looking for a single word to encapsulate St Andrews, than it would be ‘charm’, closely followed by ‘golf’, of course.