You can’t be in Scotland and not pay the Highlands a visit; you absolutely have to especially if there is time for it. While I was weighing my options up regarding such a visit, I was hesitant between booking a tour and driving through the Highlands myself. Most of my friends thought I should definitely book a tour and forget about driving altogether because why bother myself driving on the left and be alone when I can go on a tour, spare myself the trouble and meet new people in the process.
Market street in downtown - St Andrews
Well, they surely had a point but since I’m not really a tours kind of a gal and having my own road trip was kind of exciting, a little worrisome at the same time I need to admit, I decided to drive. It has been a while since I did something for the first time and a road trip would have to come into being eventually, right? Plus I had little practice two weeks earlier in the Lake District, so what can go wrong, huh? I know I punctured the tire back then but come on it can happen to anyone, what's a trip without a little adventure; let's see how it will work out this time.
The view of the coastline from the Castle with the Cathedral in the background - St Andrews
So, my original 5 days plan got reduced to 4 after the ordeal I had earlier on Friday and that definitely affected the itinerary I had in mind. I ended up changing the route, skipping some places and adding new ones. The starting point was pretty much the same though; Edinburgh airport to pick up the car, automatic gear of course, then head to the Kingdom of Fife, St Andrews in particular. Fife is not exactly Highlands I know but it was a nearby point to start towards the Highlands from and a good opportunity as well to get myself acquainted with driving on the left before those long drives come barging in.
The Martyrs' Memorial with views of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the famous Old Course (the oldest golf course in the world) in the backgound - St Andrews
The drive from Edinburgh to St Andrews is quite a short one actually and the scenery along the way reminded me of The Lake District a little. When I arrived it wasn't easy for me to find a parking spot; one of the things you worry about sometimes if you are travelling by car. I kept on driving in circles for a while till I was able to find one and was irritated already by the time I did so. Driving in the city got me stressy every single time, the traffic and the roundabouts confused me a bit and made me nervous. Driving on the left can be a tad intimidating when you are not used to it. I’m systemized to be looking at my left while taking turns and back then I needed to be looking on my right. It was baffling occasionally and caused me a problem or two with some unfriendly folks. But honestly people, you need to take it a little easy on us righties. I’m Egyptian and driving in Cairo is frenetic so try to picture driving on the "wrong" side of the road in such traffic and maybe, just maybe that picture can offer us some sympathy from your side.
The remains of the priory wall and the archways of the cathedral that are known as the Pends - St Andrews
St Andrews is such a charming town; the buildings, the streets, and the coastline were simply charming. As I started walking through the downtown I came across the Visit Scotland information office and thought why not ask them about a thing or two, I was so glad I did because they turned out to be very helpful. They offered me suggestions about things to do/see in town, dinner, accommodation, along with a map and an accommodation guide to Fife that came in very handy.
The ruins of the St Andrews Cathedral - St Andrews
I only had half a day in St Andrews but I was still able to have a glimpse of its beauty. I walked through the downtown, visited the remains of the Cathedral and Castle, and strolled by the coastline all the way to the oldest golf course in the world which is located next to the beach. I had hints of sun every now and then, the weather was great and I totally enjoyed the chilled walk about.
My dinner at The Doll's House, one of the recommendations I got from the Visit Scotland people. I had very delicious mushrooms and baby spinach gnocchi and some ginger beer with it (my latest addiction since my UK trip in August) - St Andrews
I didn’t have any previously made bookings for the night and since St Andrews can be a costly place to stay in, I decided to spend the night somewhere else. So with the help of the accommodation guide I got and the recommendations I received, I ended up spending the night in Crail at a guesthouse that overlooks the coastal path walk.
The ruins of St Andrews Castle, the only cool things about it are the secret passages and dungeon - St Andrews
The drive from St Andrews to Crail was picturesque, it went along the Fife Coastal Route and was such an enjoyment on its own. The guesthouse came out as a great surprise, it couldn’t have been any better. All rooms had a sea view that included May island, mine was at the top floor and the view outside my window was breathtaking. By the time I was there, the sun was almost setting but I was able to catch the last of its rays while walking around the harbor and part of the town's coastal path. There was hardly any one on the street but the walk along the beach was so peaceful and refreshing.
The view from the harbor - Crail
Although I was so unlucky with the sunset that day, I had the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen the following morning. It was so remarkable that I actually disturbed my sleep 3 times to catch it at different stages and I'm not even a sunrise person, I'm more of a sunset junkie.
The sunrise from my window - Crail
My very short stay at the guest house was so pleasant, such a cozy place it was. The room was amazing and the breakfast was just perfect to get me started. Not mentioning that the owner was a really nice guy who offered my great advice about where to go and what to do next. He even gave me maps and marked a thing or two for me, he was such a great help and host. I felt sad when I was leaving, I wished I had the time to stay more at this lovely place, a constant problem that accompanies short duration trips, but it was the time to take it further with my road trip. It was the day to crossover to Inverness, the surrounding area of Loch Ness and Nessie.
Part of the town's coastal path - Crail
Published by Marwa El Agroudy