It starts as you cross the Forth Road Bridge and what starts is an aching excitement deep in the gut. Over the bridge, on to the M90, on again to the A92 and Glenrothes and then just short of Cupar you swing on to the A91 and by the now the thrill of anticipation is starting to yelp at least slightly out of control.
On round the bends, past all the old landmarks, the petrol station that also sorted out the puncture, the bakery that serves proper bread, the chip shop that is so good. And on and on and then you round one final bend and there it is, the fragmented cityscape of St Andrews silhouetted before you like a Tuscan township transplanted into Scotland. It’s simply breathtaking…
From this you may reasonably gather that I am a bit of a fan of St Andrews and all that is there. In this instance we clearly must focus on the golf, but there is so much more to enjoy about this ancient place of learning and all-round beauty. Apparently the old town lies towards the epicentre of what some claim to be the world’s largest collection of ley lines.
What does this mean? I’ve no idea except that New Age fans will claim that these arrow-straight prehistoric paths climax at sites of deep mysticism and magic. They may be correct too for what I do know is that St Andrews always has had, for me, a feeling best described as a tangible sort of spirituality. Okay, this can be somewhat diluted when the pubs chuck out on a Friday or Saturday, but soon enough the old atmosphere returns and the sense of time and place, history and meaning resonates once more through the narrow streets.
Resonates too across the seven public golf courses of which the Old Course, naturally, is the king, queen, prince and princess, a royally splendid stretch of linksland that is made even more regal by the fact that the townspeople own it and have the right to roam and graze their animals thereon. Anachronistically daft maybe but flying, as it does, fully in the face of the country club concept, it gets my vote and then some.