This past weekend should have traditionally been Welly Ball. For one day, everybody would leave week 9 deadline stress to focus on pres, make-up, and of course the unfindable wellies. Now, mist, fog, and rain indistinguishably merging day and night are the only self-evident reason to wear wellies. This is sad. Wanting to give significance to our “Welly” Saturday, my two friends and I decided to leave for a true Scottish day-trip experience. If events are not happening, then we were ready to create our very own event. Armed with backpacks, my Suzuki Alto 2011 and improbable hiking roots, we decided it was time to venture ourselves for the first time outside of the aristocratic boroughs of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Loch Leven is a lovely lake and National Natural Reserve in the area of Kinross-Perth, circa one hour outside of St. Andrews down the M91. For the history geeks, there is also a castle in ruins on a little island that can be reached by boat, where Mary Queen of Scots debated the fate of the Scottish reformation with John Knox and seat of her later imprisonment. History, nature, and swans to feed, this is what we were looking forward to. Nonetheless, Scottish weather is the most untrustful variable. Despite our forecasts predicted a chill and sunny day, it was so foggy that we couldn’t see as far as our noses. This cause various disruptions, first and foremost we missed like three exits and we were prevented from even seeing the castle in the lake.
The walk across the reservoir seemed easy and engaging with wooden platforms disclosing paths at the crossroad of forest and watercourses. However, we did not stay long since we almost fell in the water due to that intense fog. We were also prevented from seeing the majestic Kinross House Estate, a beautiful late 17th-century mansion, praised by Defoe as “the most beautiful and regular piece of architecture in Scotland.” Accepting our failure in the hiking adventure, we turned the day into an exploration of larders and local farms. After leaving Kinross, which by the way is the village where Outlander was shot, we drove to Loch Leven Larder, six miles away from the lake area. Christmas smells, decorations and fairy lights welcome us in a magical place. For a moment corona was just a far memory and the happiness of the holidays inebriate our spirits. Hand-made wooden and woolen products, homemade marmalade, and hand-picked vegetables added to the feeling of a cozy indoor Christmas market. The restaurant also seemed delicious, however, they had no space for us. After some (un)necessary Christmas shopping, from local cheese crackers to the ultimate Santa socks made from alpaca wool, we drove back towards Cairnie fruit farm in Cupar. This is a well-known place in St. Andrews. We sat for a coffee and played outside in the children’s area because nothing is better than a swing or two! Finally, we made our way towards a well-deserved lunch and what better choice than Balgove to end the day in pure country style.
A St. Andrews favourite, the barn is always a guarantee for the best meat in town. Rump steak, Sirloin steak, and Lamb burger were our choices, with the unmissable peppercorn sauce and parmesan and truffle fries. The dessert was the best apple and pear crumble coated in heavenly smooth custard cream. The flower shed was the last picturesque spot before coming back to St. Andrews. Overall the day was very different from the planned excursion, yet evading from town and trying to escape the stress of a seat in pret or the hustle of (trying to) respect the two households rule was NICE. Nice as a chill day with friends can be, nice as the first Christmas lights in what is our darkest winter.