Aasma Day heads North to St Andrews and discovers there’s a lot more to this town than golf!
Mention you’re off to St Andrews for a short break, you’re sure to be met with a knowing look and a response of: “Ah, for the golf is it?”
Having absolutely zero interest in golf, I was gratified to find liking it isn’t a prerequisite for entering St Andrews, which is actually a perfect destination for a family break.
Our base was the impressive Morton of Pitmilly countryside resort just outside St Andrews beside the village of Kingsbarns.
It boasts fantastic sea views and is nestled close to the East Neuk of Fife’s picturesque fishing villages.
Oh, and if unlike me, you do happen to be a golf fan, it’s only a stone’s throw from Kingsbarns Golf Links.
As soon as we drove into Morton of Pitmilly, we knew it was completely different from the usual self catering sites as it manages to combine great facilities and home comforts with a tranquil setting.
The family-run business offers a choice of 16 high quality self catering holiday homes ranging from ones to suit couples, young families and even larger groups. Properties include one bedroom four star cottages to four bedroom five star luxury steading homes.
We stayed in the two bedroomed four star cottage The Mill Loft, nicknamed “the upside down cottage”. We soon found out why as the living area is upstairs while the twin and double room are downstairs with the bathroom.
It instantly felt like home and had every mod con needed, including a DVD player with surround sound, an iPod docking station and free wi fi as well as a microwave and dishwasher.
Yet, it still managed to retain a homely, cottage feel with its country-style kitchen and oak furniture,
Having the living area upstairs was definitely a bonus as the views from the windows were stunning, which delighted both adults and children.
Even fluffy towels and lovely comfortable robes were provided. In fact, I got so attached to mine, I was loathe to leave it behind!
The on site facilities were also superb and included a heated indoor swimming pool which, while small, was perfect to splash in at the end of a day’s exploring and loved by our children.
The pool is in the courtyard area near the cottages so guests can walk across in their robes.
There are also indoor and outdoor tennis courts and resort owner Eilidh Smith is a qualified tennis coach who has represented Scotland and offers coaching.
She certainly knows her stuff and our two nine-year-olds experienced a 30-minute lesson which they enjoyed as she put them at their ease while giving plenty of tennis tips.
Other facilities included a football pitch, a children’s play area, a croquet lawn, a spa and a gym.
There’s also a hen house where you can gather eggs and you can order eggs, bread and newspapers daily for your cottage.
Our children proclaimed the freshly laid eggs the best they’d ever tasted.
With so much to keep us on site, we had to drag ourselves away to appreciate the nearby areas – and we’re so glad we did as there’s an abundance of things to do.
In fact, Eilidh and her knowledgeable team of staff have compiled a list of 101 things to see and do near Morton of Pitmilly, so you’ll never be bored.
We only managed to cover a small fraction during our stay, so there’s plenty left to entice us back.
St Andrews is only a short drive from Morton and we loved the quaint town steeped in history and culture.
With its cobbled streets and old buildings, it is a wonderful place just to potter around as well browse in shops.
There’s plenty of cafes for a brew stop – including a coffee shop which proudly boasts it’s where Wills and Kate used to meet.
One of our favourite places was Jannetta’s Gelateria which has a wonderful range of delicious ice-creams with flavours as varied as Ferrero Rocher, passion fruit and Irn Bru.
The East Neuk fishing villages are great to drive through and are picturesque places.
A must do is to have a fish supper from multi-award winning Anstruther Fish Bar which has a legendary reputation. We ate in and loved the tasty batter and moist fresh fish which was quirkily served in a cardboard tray.
For a day out, we enjoyed a completely different experience at Scotland’s Secret Bunker, which is very close to Morton of Pitmilly.
It truly is a unique place and fascinating for adults and children. With the aid of an audio guide, you can explore the bunker hidden beneath an innocent looking Scottish farmhouse.
Journey through the 450 foot tunnel and the blast doors to discover the secrets of the bunker built to help safeguard Scotland during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear attack.
Another worthwhile family day out – especially on a wet Scottish day – is St Andrews Aquarium. Here, you can come face-to-face with fascinating water creatures from sharks to lobsters, lionfish, piranhas and seals. There’s even meerkats!
With so much to do, our short break was over too soon. But with a lot to draw us back and the fact that school holidays are different in Scotland so you’re less likely to get stung during UK school breaks, I’m sure we’ll be making a return visit.
And best of all, there wasn’t a golf ball in sight.
Morton of Pitmilly is an award-winning family run self catering estate of 16 different 4 and 5 star steading and cottage style properties.
Cottages cost from £50 per person per night - the short break rate which is available for bookings made within 21 days of arrival.
Normally, weekend breaks are for three nights (Mon to Fri).
The cost for guests to hire the indoor tennis court is £10 per hour.
Morton of Pitmilly, Kingsbarns, KY16 8QF
Tel: 01334 880466. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.pitmilly.co.uk