Friday, January 01, 2016 Road Junkies 0 Comments

, Chapter 26: 

Day 32:  Dundee to Edinburgh

The windows of our little Fabia were covered in ice this morning when we went to pack up, delaying our departure from Dundee.  After crossing the River Tay, we drove about 15 miles south on the A-91 to the town of St Andrews on the North Sea coast.  

First chartered in 1170, St Andrews is most widely known as the "home of golf." The Old Course at St Andrews is considered to be the world's oldest course.  It is owned and operated by a public trust.  The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, often considered synonymous with the course, is a private club whose clubhouse sits adjacent to the first tee.  It is just one of many clubs that have playing privileges on the Old Course.  
Swilken Bridge over the burn, St Andrews Old Course
Legend has it that the first ever game of golf was played on the links in the early 1400s.  By mid-century, Scottish King James II banned the game because he felt its growing popularity was distracting young men from the practice of archery.  This ban remained in force until his grandson, James IV, became a golfer himself and lifted the restriction.
Little resemblance to the smooth nature of US courses
St Andrews is also a college town, home to Scotland's oldest university, which dates back to 1413.  Situated in the middle of town, the campus has buildings throughout St Andrews.  Perennially rated as one of the top universities in the UK, St Andrews on New Year's Day was all but abandoned.  Yet its sense of history and seriousness were still evident, making me wonder if my undergraduate performance would have been better had I benefitted from the inspiration of such a rarefied atmosphere.
Architectural style at University of St Andrews lends itself to serious study.
We also checked out the ruins of St Andrews Castle located on a rocky coastal promontory overlooking the North Sea. First built in the early 1200s, the castle became a center of contention in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, as it changed hands and was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times.  Finally in 1337, the Scots destroyed the castle to prevent it from again becoming an English stronghold.  
St Andrews Castle was built to serve as a luxury residence for the Bishops of Scotland.
Though the castle was rebuilt the following century and eventually became the seat of the archbishop of St Andrews, it was again destroyed during the course of the Scottish Reformation.  After the Catholic church was decommissioned in Scotland in the 1600s, the castle fell into disrepair and became a source of building material for the townspeople.  All that remains today is a portion of the south wall.
St Andrews Cathedral
The more impressive ruins in the city are those of St Andrews Cathedral.  Construction on the massive edifice was begun in 1160 and continued for more than 150 years.  Progress was stalled by a 1272 storm, which blew down the west front, and by the first war of independence against England.  Finally in 1318, the cathedral was dedicated in the presence of Scottish King Robert the Bruce.  It was by far the largest church in Scotland and became the headquarters of the Catholic church in Scotland.  

In 1559, a Protestant mob ransacked the cathedral, destroying the interior.   After Catholic mass was banned in the country after the 16th century Scottish Reformation, the cathedral was abandoned and fell into ruin, with its building materials also being repurposed for other structures in the town.

Leaving St Andrews in early afternoon, we followed the coastal road through Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, Monance and Elie, where we began to see the large North Sea offshore oil platforms and wind turbines.  By that time, we were looking at 40 miles and an hour and a half to our old familiar Residence Inn in Edinburgh which would have us pushing up against total darkness—not our hearts' desire for driving conditions in a foreign country.

So we turned inland for the last leg of the trip, happy to see light holiday level traffic when we reached the usually busy Edinburgh.  Even the ubiquitous black taxis were in short supply on the streets.  Maybe because their fares double on holidays.  After checking in at the Residence Inn, we learned that our assumptions about restaurant closings on New Year's Day were correct and happily made a big salad for dinner from last night's grocery store haul.