It was a chilly April day when my mum, sister and I travelled to St Andrews to see a small, temporary exhibition of photographs which was on display at the St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum. The photos were of ‘lost’ buildings: buildings which had either been demolished, or developed over the years. Our interest in these photos was because they were taken by my mum and dad on our family summer holidays when I was a little girl. I had submitted several photos of the Step Rock Pool and beach and four were chosen.
The museum staff treated us like celebrities – they thought it was marvellous that two people who appeared in these ‘historic’ photos should be there in person in the museum. After our visit, we had coffee in a coffee shop with some royal ‘history’ before setting off on a small tour of the town and pier. My sister spent four years in St Andrews, at university, so she was looking forward to revisiting some old haunts.
The university of St Andrews was founded in 1413 and is the oldest in Scotland. Walking through an archway on South Street, we found ourselves in the quadrangle of St Mary’s College. The first of the buildings which form this quadrangle was begun in 1538 and was known as the ‘New College’!
The quadrangle contains a Holm Oak tree, thought to be about 275 years old and an ancient thorn tree said to have been planted by Mary, Queen of Scots in the sixteenth century.
In the middle of the quadrangle is a bronze statue of Bishop Henry Wardlaw, the founder of this place.
All around the quadrangle there are trees and flower beds and, when we visited, drifts of ramsons, or wild garlic.
Just to the left of the archway into St Mary’s College is the Library, with an interesting line marked on the pavement.
Moving on from the college we went to one of the areas of St Andrews that I remember the most – the swimming pool and beaches. The pool where I learned to swim is now part of the Aquarium and seals are in the section that used to be the paddling pool.
From our vantage point above the Step Rock Pool we could see over to the West Sands, which you may know from a scene in the film Chariots of Fire where the athletes are running along the beach.
We then made our way to the harbour and pier – another area I remember well from childhood when I used to sit with a little fishing line and a bucket of bait and see if I could catch anything. I don’t remember actually catching anything!
From the pier you can see back to the ruins of the cathedral and across to the ruins of the castle and the beach below it, which was the other beach we visited during our holidays. It was a stony, rather than a sandy, beach so was not my favourite one.
Then we walked along the pier, which we had almost to ourselves.
We decided enough was enough after our breezy pier walk and got back into the car and headed off to find somewhere warm and cosy to have something to eat.
My sister wrote here about her visit to the exhibition in the museum, and experiencing other people’s memories.
I hope you enjoyed your bracing walk round St Andrews – it would certainly have blown away any cobwebs which might have been lingering after the weekend. If you still have the energy for more, pop along to Jo’s Monday Walk where there are plenty of other walks to join in with.