Prince William may now be the Duke of Cambridge (a wedding present from his grandmother), but he didn’t go to Cambridge University. Of course he could have gone to Cambridge like his dad, Prince Charles, or he could have gone to Oxford or any university in the world. But he chose University of St Andrews, as did his brother Prince Harry. So I’ve always figured that St. Andrews – both the town and the school – must be a pretty special place to attract the two princes. And of course, Will must be very happy he went there as it’s where he met his wife, Kate Middleton.
When I was planning my trip to Scotland last August, I knew a stop into this college town one hour’s drive north of Edinburgh deserved a spot on my itinerary. My husband wanted to go there because St. Andrews is known as the Home of Golf, and he’s an avid golfer. He didn’t really care about the royal connection. And I don’t really care about golf.
So even though we were both interested in St. Andrews for completely different reasons, we both loved it. In case you were worried, Prince William and Prince Harry must have some very good royal advisors because they made an excellent decision in attending St. Andrews — at least in terms of location. The town is charming, the scenery is gorgeous. Plan to spend at least a day in St. Andrews on your trip to Scotland.
Since we were in St. Andrews in August, the town was very quiet because the students hadn’t returned from summer break. I would have liked to experience the energy that the students bring, but it was nice to be able to feel like we had the town all to ourselves. The streets were lined with pubs, boutiques and coffee shops. There were also some ice cream shops, and of course we managed to stop in one.
The town is full of history, and two of its most striking sites are a ruined castle (St. Andrews Castle) and a ruined abbey (St. Andrews Cathedral). The ruins look incredible against the sea.
University of St. Andrews was founded in 1413, and the town grew around it. According to the British Golf Museum, golf has been played in St. Andrews since 1552 and it became a major golfing destination by 1691. And they say that The Old Course is where it all began.
My husband had watched tournaments on the legendary Old Course many times – on TV. He was really hoping to play on it, but reservations are not easy to come by if you are planning your trip only two weeks advance. There are six other golf courses managed by the St. Andrews Link Trust, and they’re all supposed to be terrific. But my husband said that since it was our babymoon, he would only ditch me if he could play on The Old Course, which I thought was very sweet.
Instead, he settled for a short visit to the British Golf Museum while I strolled around the town and the main beach. St. Andrews is right on the coast, so there are several beaches. However, it was August and it was still chilly (but not too chilly for ice cream). The main beach was lovely to walk along – while wearing a jacket. St Andrews is known for having warmer temperatures than even Edinburgh, but everything is relative.
It turned out that the British Golf Museum was a pale substitute for a round on The Old Course though. I promised my husband that we would return to St. Andrews one day so he could play. Perhaps we’ll have the baby apply there for college…