Having crossed the River Forth west of Edinburgh, we take the A92. We soon start to see signs for Saint Andrews as we head east. It’s past lunch time and we stop in Cupar. We find a parking spot easily enough, there are few people about. As we walk up the street, we know why, it has turned cold and windy. We step into a little cafe come bakery and start looking at the menu board. The young woman at the counter asks if we are eating in or takeaway ? Eating in we say, then we can only order from the written menu she states. We sit and order, Dave walks over to the fridge and gets a soft drink. He is quickly rebuked ! You can only have drinks from the top shelf if your dining in she states. Welcome to Scotland !!!
Cupar once had Royal status as a market town, apparently the mercat cross column pictured above at the main junction symbolises that authority.
Half an hour later we arrive in Saint Andrews, the golf course is on the way into town and we stop at the new club house and wander around taking a few photos, visit the gift shop and buy a couple of souvenirs. The weather has changed, the sun is breaking through. It is however a wild and windy place, the trees are bent and stunted. We look out over the course, it appears most of the players are Asian today.
We drive up the hill and park overlooking the gardens and cliff beyond. There are a series of huge stone houses lining the road, probably guest houses built early last century. The gardens and grounds look stunning. At the top of the hill the ruins of Saint Andrews Castle stand, defying the weather and time past.
It’s now late in the afternoon and we drive on to Montrose. The tourist information is closed but we take down a couple of numbers and find ourselves at The Mall B&B, it proves to be the most wonderful old home we would stay in during our travels. Apparently the Mall was once the presbytery of the neeagbouring
We head out for dinner and drinks at the Picture House an old theatre transformed into a very fancy pub. It’s a great night, but it’s been a long day and we head for the B&B and bed. Pam and I are up early and off for a walk around Montrose. The golf course looked magnificent as did the local parks as we walked by. Somehow we end up on the bridge over the estuary from the Montrose Basin. With the falling tide it was a amazing to see the strength and speed of the water passing under us.
After another full Scottish breakfast with black pudding where heading north again. The road runs along the coast, often only a stones through away. There are no sandy beaches however, but we find the coastline is interesting wherever we are. We turn west at Stonehaven and head for The Cairngorms National Park and the Scottish Highlands. We cross the River Dee and head for Crathes Castle.
Crathes Castle was really more impressive for its gardens and grounds than the Castle itself. The castle is maintained as a museum, with many rooms fitted out with period furniture and fittings. But there is no moat, draw bridge or battlements, so a bit disappointing. The castle is really a high house with little tiny windows. I am being a bit harsh I suppose, too many television castles I presume.
The gardens surrounding Crathes are quite special, they are divided into sections which follow themes. Must be a full time job for 3 people just cutting the hedges. Once again we hit the road into The Cairngorms.