Welcome to Scotland – This leg of our itinerary is a must-see.
Stirling-St Andrews-Aberdeen. A 2-hours-and-20-minutes’ drive.
It’s an-hour-and-a-half’s drive to Stirling so you’d better leave at around eight in order to be at St Andrews’ Cathedral as soon as it opens (9:30 a.m. from Apr. 1st to Sept. 30th/ 10:00 a.m from October to March).
St Andrews, the third oldest university town in the English-speaking world, used to be Scotland’s religious capital; its “Old-Course” is renowned all over the world among golf players.
St Andrews Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Andrew, often referred to as St Andrew’s Cathedral, is a ruined Roman Catholic church dating back to the XIIth century.
The cathedral originally included a central tower together with six turrets, of which only three are standing, two in the east and one in the west, respectively.
Among what’s left of the original building, St Rule’s square tower still rises tall, 33 metres (108 feet) above the Cathedral grounds.
In 1559, during the Reformation, a Protestant mob plundered the premises and the interior of the Cathedral was destroyed.
After the attack, the church fell into decline, becoming a sort of quarry where material for the building of the town was easily to be found.
When you get to the Cathedral, you can buy a combined ticket for the Castle (opening times – Apr. 1st/ Sept. 30th : 9:30-5:30; Oct. 1st/ Mar. 31st : 10:00-4:00). Tickets can be purchased in advance.
On the seaward side of the Cathedral there is an even older religious site, the Church of Saint Mary on the Rock.
We then headed north, for a fifty-minute drive, past the River Tay and Dundee to Glamis Castle.
Childhood home to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, the castle is also famous for the so called Monster of Glamis, a hideous child who was kept there till his death, as well as for other haunting legends.The interior offers rich stuccos in a remarkable state of conservation.
Though you have to pay to walk through the grounds and view the castle only from the outside, to me, the experience is worth it. You can purchase your ticket at the entrance.
(opening times: Nov. – Dec. 10:30 – 16:00; Mar. 30th – Oct 31st 10:00 – 17:30)
This is the mandatory visit of the day.
It is a unique strong castle enjoyong an extraordinary defensive position. In fact, it stands on a fifty-metre-high rocky outcrop projecting onto the sea. Its only link to the mainland is a steep and narrow path winding up and down the rock.
The tickets can be bought at the Castle kiosk at the entry. The Castle website strongly recommends to reach the place on foot from the nearby town of Stonehaven, since stunning views can be enjoyed along your way.
The site, which suggests you to be there on time to fully take advantage of the experience, also advises to download the dedicated free app prior to your visit.
A detailed timetable of opening times, which frequently vary, can be found online.
CASTLES IN SCOTLAND TO VISIT