When the birds are singing, the air has that characteristic St Andrews saltiness, the main thing on my mind is where I’ll go this weekend to enjoy the sunshine!
So without further ado, here are the top five places on my list:
1. St Andrews’ beaches
Of course. Where else could top our list but the beautiful expanses of sand that we have right on our doorsteps? We have three different beaches to choose from.
West Sands is the iconic setting for Chariots of Fire, but has an even better claim to fame as one of only seven beaches in Scotland to enjoy Blue Flag status. With its wonderful views of the St Andrews townscape, the Old Course, and the River Tay, and its array of unusual wind-based sports, there’s something for everyone on the West Sands beach.
The Castle Sands is another option – small and intimate, this beach is just below the Castle ruins, and is sheltered by cliffs. It also boasts the Victorian equivalent of an infinity pool, which fills with water when the tide is in, then warms the water it catches when the tide is out.
Finally, the East Sands – just along from the Harbour – is another excellent option. It has a Seaside Award for cleanliness, and is the closest beach to St Andrews town centre and other amenities. There’s no excuse to get bored at the East Sands Beach, even if it isn’t warm enough to sunbathe; there’s a sailing club, children’s adventure playground, a route onto the Fife Coastal Path, and an indoor leisure centre all close by.
2. St Andrews Botanic Garden
Botanic gardens are always surprising, hidden havens of peace and tranquility, and St Andrews’ Botanic Garden is no exception. Featuring beautifully manicured lawns, fragrant flowers, tall whispering trees, and a small lake, it is perhaps my favourite place to spend a quiet afternoon with a good book. If plants are entertainment enough for you, there are plenty here to keep you occupied; there is a wide variety of indoor and outdoor areas featuring different sorts of plants (for example a herb garden), or plants from different countries (particularly in the indoor climate-controlled areas). There is a small entrance fee, but it’s well worth it.
3. Craigtoun Country Park
This family-friendly park is a great place to take energetic kids for a day out.The entrance fee covers all activities, and once in Craigtoun Country Park, families can enjoy a boating lake, miniature railway, crazy golf, and a a modern adventure playground, or just enjoy the grounds.Bring a picnic, or enjoy a few refreshments at the little café in the Park’s grounds.
4. Tentsmuir Forest
If you’d rather stick to the shade, or if you’re a fan of rare animals, you’ll want to head to Tentsmuir Forest. About fifteen minutes’ drive from St Andrews, this nature reserve is home to kingfishers, red squirrels, grey seals, teal ducks, roe deer, herons, great spotted woodpeckers, and many other unusual breeds. Enjoy a variety of woodland or beach walks, bring a barbecue, or ride along the stretch of the Fife Cycleway that crosses through Tentsmuir Forest. Entry to the forest is free, but there is a £1 fee for car parking.
5. Seaside Villages on the East Neuk
Prefer to potter with a purpose while you enjoy your sunshine? Why not drive out to the East Neuk to explore the picturesque fishing villages? Crail, Anstruther, and Pittenweem all enjoy wonderful art galleries and gift shops, and there is famously fresh food in each of them. Why not try the Lobster Store on Crail Harbour for lobster cooked to order, the award-winning fish and chip shops in Anstruther, or the cute continental chocolate shop in Pittenweem? For the more energetic, Elie is just down the road and offers a great variety of watersports.
What am I missing – where do you go when the weather’s warm and sunny? Add your comments here!
Written and contributed by Beth Craggs