Saint Andrew, or Andrew the Apostle to some, the Patron Saint of Scotland, crucified on the X-shaped cross or saltire in the 1st century AD. This image would later be encapsulated into the Scottish Flag, something that Scots take great pride in brandishing.
The reason I bring this up is that according to legend St Regulus, a Greek Monk residing in the city of Patras in Greece, received a vision from an angel telling him to take the remains of Saint Andrew as far away as he could otherwise they would be transported to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire.
With what was left of Saint Andrews remains; three fingers from the right hand, the upper bone of an arm, one kneecap and a tooth, St Regulus made his journey to the Western Isles. On this journey he was either shipwrecked or received another vision from the angel that told him to stop in what we now know as the town of St. Andrews. Eventually the St Regulus Church was built to shelter these remains, which became a hub for pilgrims across the lands before Saint Andrew was made the Patron Saint of Scotland.
Fascinating stuff aye!? Well, this is just a snippet of the history that I learned from the St Andrews & the fishing villages of Fife tour that I undertook to learn a little more about the area, definitely not an excuse for me to get out of the office. We had an intimate tour consisting of around eight passengers, including myself, our charismatic driver-guide Billy was at the helm and regaled us with many tales of the area.
Starting off from Edinburgh, our St Andrews tour took a brief stop underneath the marvellous feat of engineering that is the Forth Rail Bridge for photo opportunities. The bracing wind and low temperatures meant that we didn’t stay out there for too long but it was no less impressive because of it. The Firth of Forth became a familiar site on this tour, as we hugged the coast of Fife taking in some marvellous views.
Travelling into Fife, we were able to witness the impact that the mining and manufacturing industries and its closures have had on both the landscape and the people that reside within it. Passing through the town of Kirkcaldy we were reminded by Billy of the hilarious Billy Connelly set on Fife…
“Kirkcaldy! Fabulous town. Where they used to make linoleum. Great place! Now, the linoleum industry went down the pan and they've got a million reasons for it but my personal theory is that nobody could pronounce 'linoleum'.”
(For those aware of Billy Connelly yes I did have to heavily edit that material)
Well, we were given the real reasons for it, but it was nice to have an opposing argument though. As we continued to make our way north, we stopped in the town Anstruther for coffee and sightseeing. Unfortunately the chip shop that I have heard so much about was closed… but to be fair it was 11am and my waistline was thankful for it. This wasn’t helped when we made a quick stop at the stunning village of Crail to see the fishing boats where I spotted a sign for freshly cooked lobster at the weekend…
On that note, we arrived in St Andrews around lunch time right by the Old Course, which I hear is a big deal for you golfer types, although I am no golfer it doesn’t mean it is any less impressive to view. Our driver-guide Billy pointed out places of interest and suggested how best to fill our time as we were given three hours to make of our St Andrews tour what we want from it.
For me this consisted of a walk along the coast, a stop at St Andrews Castle, a wander around St Andrews Cathedral, a stop off at the coffee shop where Wills would meet Kate, and… ahem… a half or two at St Andrews brewery (don’t tell the boss). But for those with a more active interest in the world of golf then there is more than enough to keep you interested and entertained, it is St Andrews after all.
That is the beauty of the St Andrews tour; it’s not too far away, it’s incredibly beautiful, you can walk it quite easily and there is something for everyone here. There’s even a beach, and that’s not even taking into account all the stunning places you visit before you get there! The St Andrews tour departs from Edinburgh on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sundays from 9:00 so really there is no excuse for you to not take a day out there.