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Original photo by Peyton Sarrail

The Most Picturesque Rain-or-Shine Walks in St Andrews

When deadline stress is creeping in, the “bubble” is feeling too small, or your final round of Pablos from the night before is still taking a toll, a walk around town can be a saving grace. I am perhaps just a bit biased, but I’m sure most students will agree that St Andrews is one of the most picturesque towns in the UK, if not the world. More often than I’d like to admit, I find myself so engulfed in a crazy schedule of clubs, socials, sports, friends, work, essays, and procrastinating said work and essays, that I am in desperate need of a breath of fresh air — both literally and metaphorically. These are the times when I drop what I’m doing, throw on a big coat, and force myself out the door before I can think twice. Here are my favourite rain-or-shine (interpret as you will) walks in St Andrews.

West Sands

A bit of an obvious choice, I know, but it truly never disappoints. I have spent much of my time in St Andrews traipsing down this infinite stretch of sand and have never even reached the “end” of the beach. West Sands has an undeniably epic feel, and was even the famous filming location for the iconic Chariots of Fire running scene. It is my go-to setting for a walk with friends, phone call rant to my mum, podcast-listening binge, or quick run in the middle of a busy day. “Rain-or-shine” is a bit of a stretch for this one, but who doesn’t love a slap of frigid North Sea wind in the face to cure a hangover. 

Lade Braes

When I finally convince myself not to return to West Sands for the fifth time in one week, a serene walk along Lade Braes immediately clears my mind. An overhead canopy of tree branches lines the majority of the path along the Kinness Burn, which makes it a great route for a particularly rainy or windy day. If you’re up for a longer stroll, continue down the footpath a few kilometres in the opposite direction of town to reach Craigtoun Park, a charming estate with formal gardens, greenhouses, nature trails, and the Dutch Village lake. 

The Old Course

I couldn’t compile a list of St Andrews walks without including a golf course, and what better choice than the original course. The 5km path from the 18th hole down the centre of the Old Course and back is one of my favourites, especially during the colder months when there are fewer golfers and less likelihood of being whacked in the head by a golf ball. For the highest concentration of puppies in town, walk along the fairway on a Sunday when the course is closed to golfers and instead occupied by pedestrians and their furry friends.

The Scores

If you’re not in a rush navigating the mayhem of Market Street and elbowing your way through the atrociously long queue outside Pret, it’s worth a scenic detour along The Scores. My favourite golden hour walk is down this quaint coastal street, past the castle, and towards the pier and East Sands for a tranquil spot to watch the sunset.

Fife Coastal Path

The entire Fife Coastal Path is a 183km route from Kincardine to Newburgh along the coastline of Fife. This is perhaps a bit ambitious for a midday stroll, but the 16km portion of the path from St Andrews to Crail is a great route for a long walk or run. If you’re as lazy as I am and that still sounds like far too much of a commitment, I recommend roughly the first kilometre of the path starting from the southern end of East Sands. On a sunny spring day, the views looking back on town, the rocky shores below, and rolling fields of wildflowers ahead are absolutely stunning.

There is a reason St Andrews is repeatedly rated one of the most beautiful towns in Scotland. I, for one, often become so accustomed to walking the same streets and passing the same buildings everyday that I need a reminder to appreciate the fact that I live in what could easily be a fairytale town in a Disney film or runner-up to Hogwarts. So for my fellow St Andrews students, consider this article your own gentle reminder to roam beyond the three streets every once in a while.

Peyton is a fourth-year Psychology and Art History student at the University of St Andrews. She grew up between London and San Francisco, and speaks like Peppa Pig despite being 100% American. As a proud foodie, she loves creating recipes out of ingredients that really shouldn't go together, and will never be caught dead without a tasty snack in hand.
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