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So much more than golf.



Byline: By Karen Overbury

Think of Scotland and you picture cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow or the magnificent highlands.

Beach walks, quaint villages and glorious autumn colours in wonderful woodlands do not normally spring to mind.

But a visit to St Andrews and the surrounding Fife countryside and coast have converted me to this very different part of the country.

The area is best known for its golf courses, but there is so much more to attract visitors who all-too-often bypass the area and head straight for the Highlands. The distance from the North-East makes St Andrews an ideal weekend destination.

Head for Edinburgh, cross the Forth and simply follow the coast, enjoying a scenic drive at whatever time of year. We chose an autumn break and were staggered by the beauty of the woodlands in autumn - who needs to travel to New England New England, name applied to the region comprising six states of the NE United States—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The region is thought to have been so named by Capt.  in the fall when good old Scotland is so near and so welcoming?

St Andrews, with a good choice of hotels, is well used to catering for the traveller. Fancying a little olde worlde Adj. 1. olde worlde - attractively old-fashioned (but not necessarily authentic); "houses with quaint thatched roofs"; "a vaulted roof supporting old-time chimney pots"
old-time, quaint
 charm, we headed for the place that declares itself "St Andrews' oldest coaching inn," promising a warm welcome, comfortable well-decorated rooms, good food and resident ghost.

The Grey Lady must have been out on the links that weekend, but The Inn at Lathones, five miles from St Andrews disappointed in nothing else.

Owner Nick White has been in the hotel business for many years. The inn offers the best of both worlds and the personal touch is the key.

Nick, very proud of what he has achieved, is planning yet further improvements.

The original coaching inn dates back more than 400 years. Today it offers 14 welcoming en-suite bedrooms, some in the original smithy.

Our room, in a well-designed extension to the inn, even had a wood-burning stove, made up ready to light and with a big box of logs.

Nick is particularly proud of the restaurant - and justifiably so.

Chef Marc Guibert, who has a collection of catering awards under his belt, says he is committed to using fresh food from the surrounding area.

The menu was varied with a definite `country' bias with options such as wild boar and wood pigeon. The food was well presented, the quality high and flavours excellent.

It all tasted better, of course, after making our selections while enjoying a pre-dinner drink in the bar/lounge, complete with cosy fire.

Then, after an excellent meal and exhausted by the abundant fresh air, it was off for a good night's sleep - before a good, hearty breakfast, including porridge and kippers if desired, surely a must on a Scottish hotel menu.

Advice on where to visit was plentiful. An afternoon in St Andrews was obligatory.

At first appearance the city resembles Alnwick, with a wide main street, country-town style shops and even a stone gateway to drive through. Parking is easy - simply buy a set of parking vouchers from one of the many shops advertising them.

The shops are pleasant and the atmosphere relaxing.

A walk around the castle and its grounds is fascinating. And take time to visit the adjoining graveyard with some of the most unusual headstones I've ever seen - and that's said by someone who spent many hours as a child walking through graveyards as my mother didn't consider a holiday complete without a walk through a couple of cemeteries.

The climate in the area is mild, as shown by the palm trees growing happily in gardens. We also enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, but bypassed other recommendations, including St Andrews Aquarium, the British Golf Museum The British Golf Museum is located in the town of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, which is the home of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and is colloquially known as the "Home of Golf".  and St Andrews Preservation Trust Gardens.

An unusual visitor attraction is the Secret Nuclear Bunker, an amazing a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es

v.tr.
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.

v.intr.
 underground labyrinth, with 150 metres of tunnel hidden beneath an innocent-looking farmhouse and built at the height of the Cold War. The outer shell comprises three metres of solid concrete reinforced every 15cm with 2.5cm thick tungsten tungsten (tŭng`stən) [Swed.,=heavy stone], metallic chemical element; symbol W; at. no. 74; at. wt. 183.85; m.p. about 3,410°C;; b.p. 5,660°C;; sp. gr. 19.3 at 20°C;; valence +2, +3, +4, +5, or +6.  rods.

It is only 10 years since the public was told about the bunker. The tour is fascinating, if not alarming, and the dreadful fears of those years of nuclear threat are recaptured well. My only criticism was the high price.

A coastal walk was recommended by Nick's team at the hotel. Drive to nearby Elie, admire the fishing village and the harbour then head off along the shore or headland and simply keep going for as long as you fancy.

I'll long remember the peace and quiet, clambering clam·ber·ing  
adj.
Of or relating to a plant, often one without tendrils, that sprawls or climbs.
 on the rocks and the fact that Elie has more public conveniences than anywhere you've ever seen.

A good-value cafe lunch then it was inland for an afternoon with a difference.

My son might not be the world's greatest Land Rover See LANRover.  fan, but he must come close.

And one of the conditions of a holiday with his parents was that we took him off-roading. Newton Hill Country Sports, near Wormit, just off the road to Dundee is the place where the experts go - it clearly is as we were shown the very tree that motoring expert Jeremy Clarkson <noinclude></noinclude>

Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson (born 11 April 1960) is an English broadcaster and writer who specialises in motoring. He writes weekly columns for The Sunday Times and The sun
 knocked down on a Land Rover test drive.

But we were sworn to secrecy Sworn To Secrecy: Secrets of War (aka Secrets of War) is the most comprehensive video documentary television series ever produced on the military history and the “secrets of war” of the Twentieth Century. , so I couldn't possibly mention it.

Today's stag and hen parties are held over long weekends in other cities or even other countries.

It's important to `do something different,' hence a growing part of the business at Newton Hill - business events, stag weekends and hen parties.

Stay in a `posh' hotel, visit the farm for fishing, clay pigeon clay pigeon

target used at gun clubs. It causes poisoning in pigs at pasture which eat the targets. The coal tar pitch used as a binder causes severe hepatic necrosis. See also coal tar pitch.
 shooting and quad-biking or off-road Land Rover driving, then get back to the hotel for the traditional part of the event.

The company even offers a 22-mile off-road drive to Loch Ness - a must for our next visit.

Rough and clay pigeon shooting and fishing are also available at Teasses estate where, again, companies are eager to send employees for team-building in the great St Andrews outdoors.

Having never even had a desire to visit the area, we're true converts, and after a fabulous fall are keen to see this lovely corner of Scotland in the spring.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2004
Words:1013
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