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How to get from St Andrews to Islay on a mini break? Recommendations?

(6 Posts)
mrsgiraffes Mon 09-May-16 14:01:07

Hi Scotsnetters smile

My husband has a dream to play at St Andrews, and also has a passion for Islay whisky. He has a big birthday coming up and I wondered if it might be possible to fit both of these amazing places in to the one trip.

I wondered if there's any easy way to get from one to the other as obviously they are on opposite sides of the country! I also wondered if anyone has any recommendations for either place; like is it better to have an organised tour on Islay or just go around by yourself? Can you do it via public transport or can you hire a 'designated driver' for the day and so on?

I'm only in the very early stages or thinking/planning about this, so any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks smile

chemenger Mon 09-May-16 14:19:42

Neither place is particularly accessible. Where are you coming from?

St Andrews is most easily reached by train to Leuchers then taxi or bus, Leuchers is on the main East Coast line, but not all trains stop there. To play the Old Course (which is probably what he wants) I think you need to enter the ballot the day before (online), you have a good chance of getting a tee time as long as its not peak time (dh has had no trouble at Easter). They will combine players to make up fourballs. The other courses you can book tee times on as normal. The New Course parallels the Old Course quite a lot and is quite easy to get on to.

Getting to Islay from St Andrews is probably best done by somehow getting to Glasgow Airport (2 hrs by car, maybe a bit more)then fly, there are a few lights per day, I think. The island is quite small, I don't think buses would be very frequent but there may be whisky tours visiting the distilleries. I'm sure you could find a local driver to take you round. We have always taken the car on the ferry, but that would take you the best part of a day from St Andrews. There is an excellent golf course - The Machrie on Islay, its not St Andrews but might do. Doing St Andrews and Islay in one short trip risks losing a lot of time to travelling.

Wyldfyre Mon 09-May-16 21:08:32

Presume he wants to play the Old course (though there are plenty of other good courses)?

There are two ways to do this if he is on his own - you can ballot online at the links trust website

Alternatively he can also turn up at the first tee and see if the starter can fit him in with another group... Best to do this about 0600 hrs as a few people have the same idea

As for accessing the town - train to Leuchars and then a taxi or bus (they are quite frequent)

cdtaylornats Mon 09-May-16 21:21:06

www.rabbies.com/en/tour-scotland/2-4-day-tours-scotland-from-edinburgh/islay-the-whisky-coast-4-day-tour

If you are going for a week, the tour leaves and finishes in Edinburgh. Bus (X59) takes 2 hours from Edinburgh.

mrsgiraffes Tue 10-May-16 16:01:41

Oh, this is all really useful information, thanks so much. I will definitely look into flights, we are coming from Warwick so I first have to decide whether we should rive, train or fly up!

I know it's going to be pretty hard logistically but if I can find a way to pull this off it really will be the trip of a lifetime. Thanks too for the information about the Old course, I am hoping there is a nice restaurant or bar where I can relax with a good wine while he is playing! wink However the Machrie sounds interesting, I didn't know about that. If I can't find a way to combine St Andrews then that could be a good alternative. In fact I've just had a quick Google and it looks beautiful! Wow!

That Edinburgh tour also looks worthy of further investigation too, thank you all very much indeed smile thanks

Wyldfyre Tue 10-May-16 16:17:42

You could get an afternoon tea at the Scores hotel? It's within spitting distance of the Old and has a great view over the West Sands (where Chariots of Fire was filmed).
Or there's the North Point Cafe where Wills and Kate used to meet. That's in the shadow of the Cathedral.
Not really a wine drinker so I can't recommend which bars have the best selection. Drouthy Neebours or the West Port have a nice atmosphere.

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