How to explore Scotland economically over spring break

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Photo: Brendan Thomas
Photo: Brendan Thomas
Photo: Brendan Thomas

Stuck in St Andrews over spring break? Fear not, as there are plenty of enjoyable — and economical — ways to keep yourself occupied. From experiencing the great outdoors, surrounded by some of the area’s breathtaking scenery, to exploring the network of quirky towns and villages along the Fife coast or going further afield for a taste of Scottish culture, you will never be short of ways to make the midterm break worthwhile.

If, by some small miracle, we experience some reasonable weather over the two week break in March, the opportunity to experience all the outdoor enjoyment that East Fife has to offer should not be missed. Walking along the Fife Coastal Path is a great way to spend time without spending money. The path stretches for 117 miles from the Forth to the Tay estuaries and has sections of any length: perfect for both experienced hikers and those just out for a stroll. A notable highlight on the walk is Tentsmuir Forest, where sublime wooded areas and pristine beaches make for one of the most picturesque spots in the entire region.

Along the path, you will find a host of charming seaside towns that are great stop-off points to catch your breath and enjoy some lunch, or maybe even a swift pint. Anstruther is a charming place to look around and is home to the award winning Anstruther Fish Bar; if you are looking for a more reasonably priced option, though, the Wee Chippy is close by and is a favourite among the locals. Nearby is the Ship Tavern, the perfect place to wash down your fish supper while overlooking the harbour.

Arguably more picturesque than Anstruther, Crail offers a taste of the traditional with its narrow cobbled streets and charming harbour. There is also a hut that serves freshly caught lobster at great price. The Cambo Estate just outside Kingsbarns is another lovely place to amble through, particularly at this time of year, when its famous abundance of snowdrops are out in full bloom. Each of these places can be accessed via the local bus route; if you’re planning multiple trips, then you can save money by getting a seven-day student megarider ticket, although this excludes some areas.

If you fancy a trip to one of Scotland’s great cities, both Edinburgh and Glasgow are just a bus journey away; a return ticket costs £10.40 to Edinburgh and £11.20 to Glasgow. Once there, your possibilities are endless. Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland is quite a spectacle, as is the National Gallery. In Glasgow, the iconic Kelvingrove Museum is a must-visit, as is the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel. All of these boast free admission.

Spectacular views over the capital can be obtained by climbing Arthur’s Seat — if you’ve got the energy, that is. But a similarly awe-inspiring vantage point lies atop the more modest Calton Hill, which also boasts the almighty, Parthenon-esque National Monument and towering Nelson Monument. In Glasgow, be sure to check out the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece that is the Glasgow School of Art building.

Of course, being in those cities presents a great opportunity to experience some proper nightlife. Given that our spring break is earlier than that of Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, the clubs and bars will surely be packed with these cities’ dominant student populations.

Nonetheless, if you can’t muster the energy to so much as leave St Andrews, or your workload is too prohibitive, remember that we don’t live in such a boring place ourselves. Spring break is the perfect time to experience the town away from the hustle and bustle of the student calendar. Check out the St Andrews town museum, the University Museum or the Golf Museum, or take a look around the grounds of the historic castle and cathedral. If nothing else, take a trip to Aldi to stock up on low-priced goods for the term ahead.

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