Features Deputy Editor, Heather Jeffrey, explores some ideas of what to do during Independent Learning Week. She shares some great places to visit while staying close to home.
Craigtoun Country Park
Craigtoun Country Park, located just two miles outside St Andrews, is a 47-acre, well-maintained public park which can easily be reached on foot. It is free entry and open 24/7. Strolling around, you’ll see the two ponds home to numerous ducks and swans, the quaint little Dutch village, the Japanese gardens, and much more.
Currently with a range of seasonal attractions to enjoy, from crazy golf to a ride around the park on the miniature railway, Craigtoun really is a hidden gem and the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
Despite being well signposted on the road out of St Andrews, according to the website of Scotland’s ‘Secret’ Bunker, “an innocent looking farmhouse conceals the entrance to Scotland’s best kept secret”. An old Cold War bunker, now turned museum, it offers you the chance to explore the underground labyrinth originally used by the government to plan and prepare for nuclear war. The bunker now contains a museum, two cinemas, and a café. The Bunker is open every day and is located between St Andrews and Anstruther where buses run to and from regularly. Tickets can be booked online.
A somewhat unique experience, you’ll either love it or hate it. But there’s no way of knowing which until you head along and see for yourself!
Anstruther & Crail
If you haven’t yet tried Anstruther’s world famous fish & chips, then now is your chance to head along and indulge in this local delicacy. Winner of multiple food awards, and having been visited by celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro, Anstruther Fish Bar is definitely worth a visit.
Anstruther itself is a beautiful seaside town, complete with picturesque harbour and numerous ice cream shops. Only a short bus journey from St Andrews, Anstruther is the largest of the old-fashioned fishing villages dotted along this stretch of the Fife coast.
Crail, the next village along, is also a historic fishing village, home to a heritage centre, art galleries, local shops, and tearooms. The harbour and beach are also perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Take the day and visit them both, or venture a little further still along to Pittenweem or St Monans.
Tentsmuir is a local nature reserve and is the most easterly point in Fife, consisting of a forest running alongside a long beach and boasting spectacular scenery and wildlife. Recently, a group of seals are said to have been hanging around the beach, so keep an eye out while you’re there.
The reserve is popular with walkers and cyclists, as well as families since there is also an adventure playground (although students are probably not allowed to play there, unfortunately). There are many lovely walks in and around Tentsmuir to explore.
To get to the reserve on public transport, take the 42 Stagecoach towards Dundee, getting off at the ‘Tayport Shanwell Road South’ turning point, and then continue on foot following signs for Tentsmuir. If you are unsure, just ask the driver. And if you have access to a car, there is also a carpark inside the reserve.
I hope that these suggestions leave you feeling a little more inspired with things to do and places to go during ILW, or even during the rest of the semester. In St Andrews itself there are so many beautiful and interesting places to discover. Even having lived here for five years, I’m still finding new spots within the town to visit and explore, so I’m sure you’ll have no trouble doing the same.
It won’t be long until we’re all busy again jetting off around the world or visiting family and friends up and down the country, so let’s make the most of this rare opportunity to slow down and explore our more immediate surroundings. Take a break from studying. Take a break from stressing. Let’s make sure we return to classes in week 7 feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and raring to go!