It was one of those days, I needed to get out of the house and more than anything I needed some exercise. That killo I lost last week was found all too easily.
I have been thinking about walking the Fife Coastal Path, I’ll shorten it to FCP, for some time now, well ever since I retired, which was nearly two years ago now, so a quick glance at the Traveline web site this morning was enough to confirm that I could get back to my starting point in Kincardine by bus, so it was rucksack packed, boots on and I was off.
The Fife Coastal Path follows the coast line of the “Kingdom” of Fife from Kincardine (on Forth) to Newburgh (on Tay), passing Rosyth, Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Leven, out to Fife Ness, St Andrews, Tayport along the way. All in, it’s 117 miles long. This section from Kincardine to Torryburn accounts for approx 5 1/2 miles or 9km of it.
I took my Fuji X-Pro1 along with me and as an experiment, I decided to set my camera to record high contrast JPEG along with my usual RAW images. Critically, the shadows are a bit too deep for my liking and I’ll modify that for further photos. However I did have what photographers would call a happy accident in that when I came to edit the JPEGs in Photoshop, the crop came up, not as my usual free aspect ratio crop but a square aspect ratio and it seemed to fit so all the photos from today are square crops. I may even modify the camera settings just to do square crops, for future walks as this reminds me of the old 120 film cameras and their square prints.
Usually I would take the photos in RAW mode and process them into monochome later but this time I decided to work purely with the in-camera processed JPEGs, although I still have the RAWs if I needed them. I’m happy with the results.
I parked the car in the Park and Ride car park in Kincardine, which curiously does not have a bus stop. From here it is a short walk down towards the river and the start of the FCP.
The path heads towards the Forth in the background. You then should walk along a path close to the new road but this section was closed off and the alternative was to walk along a muddy well rutted road alongside the railway heading towards the Longannet power station in the distance.
I became aware of a number of supports for what once supported a pipe rack running alongside this track, the only reason I could think for them would be to carry slurry from the old and long demolished Kincardine Power Station to the ash lagoons at Low Valleyfield. Certainly, whoever decomissioned the pipeline was a methodical person as the nuts holding the saddle clamps were put back onto the studs which stick out of the concrete pipe supports. My kind of guy.
Harking back to my days as a Power Station “Tiffie” (Instrument Technician on Sundays)… The coal was pulverised in mills, into a fine powder (PFA, pulverised fuel ash and horrible stuff to deal with) where it was fired into the boiler under pressure and burnt, Creating heat, making steam, turning the turbines and the alternator to make electricity. The ash was then collected, mixed with water and pumped out to settling ponds or lagoons where the water would gradually drain/evapourate and the ash would be left behind. The Lagoons at Low Valleyfield are testament to this form of disposal. So these concrete pipe supports carried the pipes that contained the PFA slurry out to the Lagoons.
The way ahead is dominated by the now closed down Longannet Power Station, giving me a few creative photographic opportunities in the process.
I wondered why the railway line wasn’t fenced off and then I realised there was a dirty great big ditch between me and the railway line, there was one crossing point, which was totally open, going up onto the line and a look at the rails was enough to confirm that this line had not been used in a long while (the top of the rails were rusty and not polished metal.) It did give me a great view of the old Kincardine Road Bridge, which in its day was the largest turntable bridge in Europe. It was decomissioned in 2008, no longer opening for river traffic that once went up river to Alloa.
The path heads to the power station then makes its way around what was the coal storage area becoming at one point very wet indeed. You finally reach the power station gatehouse and then are left to work out that you should turn left, heading away from the power station to the Culross Road. The sign outside the station was intriguing…
The small white sign curiously gives the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, SEPA, permit number along with the statement that a power station is a 24/7 operation. Really?
The “Gannet” was a workhorse of the Scottish electrical generation for years, it’s 660MW turbines ran for years until European air quality regulations caught up with it and it became cost prohibitive to run. The station was supplied from the mining complex below having the longest underground conveyor belt in Europe. The Longannet Complex was the last deep mine (Castlebridge) in Scotland before serious flooding forced it closure.
You will be pleased to know that’s the last photo you’ll see from me of the Power station and perhaps the best of the bunch.
About half way around the power station I noticed this by the roadside, just why this wall was built up like this is anyone’s guess, my guess is a milestone that’s been removed, although I didn’t see any more on my travels.
The FCP leaves the roadside and continues along the railway alongside the shore of the Forth, becoming more pleasurable in the process as it heads towards Culross.
I have passed this was a good number of times on the road, which is just in front of this house and never noticed this salt water reed bed. It was cut off from the Forth when the Caledonian Alloa to Dunfermline railway line was opened in 1906. Latterly it carried coal to Longannet Power Station and now nothing much passes this way.
The path runs arrow straight beside the railway as you enter Culross.
The old pier is in the distance. You come to a small car park on the outskirts of Culross with this massive anchor on display
I’m not sure why this monster of an anchor is here, it has a massive fluke and must have been used for a large vessel at one time. It stands beside a disused ice house, one of two along the FCP, the other being at Tentsmuir Forest.
There is another anchor, in a children’s play park beyond the ice house, with a spectacularly bent fluke, I would love to know just how a piece of metal this large got bent like this.
The old Culross Pier is a little bit beyond the ice house and is one of the few places where you can cross the railway to get to the shore. The walk out to the small “island” at the end is not for the faint hearted as there is only a handrail on one side of the walkway.
It is worth the walk as you get one last look at the power station with Dunimarle Castle on the hill.
I made a choice that my stomach regretted, instead of deviating off the path for something to eat in Culross, I decided to walk along the quaintly titled Culross Promenade, which is a Right of Way. The advantage is you are nearer the coast as you don’t have to look over the railway, the disadvantage is the path is a uneven and a bit muddy in places with the offerings from a number of inconsiderate dog owners to contend with.
The FCP itself runs on the landward side of the railway, so you don’t miss much by going this way.
There is a choice at the end of the Promenade path. The FCP crosses the railway to join the Promenade path and continues straight on, while a longer route follows the coast to go around the lagoons to rejoin the FCP at Low Valleyfield. The now land-locked Preston Island is at the far end of the lagoons and is worth visiting. Please note. I believe that the path continues around the lagoons, it did not when I visited the island a good number of years ago. I must recheck.
Anyway, the FCP continues along the railway and away from the road for a mile or so before crossing the line by bridge at Low Valleyfield.
You can continue all the way down the ramp or take the stairs and turn left to continue the FCP on the landward side of the railway.
The FCP now continues on the roadside footpath, there are stickers, on the lamp posts suggesting that you cross over to the other side of the road but you have to cross back anyway and you would miss the small memorial to the Low Valleyfield Colliery, 1908 to 1978 if you do.
The pit had a notable disaster when thirty five men lost their lives on 28th October 1939, due to an underground explosion. There is a memorial to the victims at nearby High Valleyfield.
The road crosses over the Bluther Burns at Newmills, where I crossed to the other side of the new bridge with it’s concrete balustrades to see an older bridge nestling among the trees.
I walked on a little farther along the road following the FCP to Low Torry, (which is almost Torryburn) where I caught a bus back to Kincardine.
A word to the unknowing, I had a bus pass by me and could not figure out why it didn’t stop until I realised if you want a bus to stop you must hold out you hand to signal to the driver to stop… I’ll not make that mistake again!
All in all it took me two and a half hours to get this far… but there’s one thing for sure….