Fife Coastal Path – North Queensferry to Burntisland.

Another installment in my “Blisters of burst” blog from the Fife Coastal Path (FCP).  This time, I over done things, with what turned out to be a 14 miles walk… Put it like this, if I was the USS Enterprise: I would have dropped out of warp drive by Dalgety Bay. On impulse power by Braefoot Bay and down on batteries by Aberdour… needing some Red Bull Dilithium flavour to get me back to my car at Ferrytoll.

The plan was to park the car at the Park and Ride at Ferrytoll, walk down to North Queensferry (1 mile), then walk the 9 miles to Aberdour with the option of three more miles, to Burntisland and get the bus back. Well that’s the plan anyway,

Setting off from Ferrytoll I was looking for the Admiralty Stone that I had seen on previous visits. These stones marked the boundaries of the MoD properties. They seem to date from before WW2 maybe even earlier, anyway Ferrytoll is being drastically modernised and the stone has been removed and placed on a palate and not only that but there’s another stone. Both are marked with an anchor symbol with numbers, 6 and 7 with arrows on the top denoting the direction of the boundaries. No doubt they will placed in a suitable location when all the work is done.

No.7 Stone, Ferrytoll

No.7 Stone, Ferrytoll

My route to North Queensferry was an easy one although not a pretty one alongside the A90 approach to the Forth Road Bridge. It’s a shared used footpath with bicycles, that’s all fair and well except for the “roadie” who came up behind me, nearly putting himself in the weeds rather than shout or even slow down as he approached. Lets say that I insulted his parentage and likened him to a part of a female anatomy…
At the foot of the Bridge is the commemoration stone, unveiled by HM Queen, September 1964 when she opened the Road Bridge. Hell the Bridge is almost as old as I am!

Forth Road Bridge, opening stone

Forth Road Bridge, opening stone

Just beyond the stone, a set of steps leads down to the road and the FCP. I followed my nose, which led down to the river and a new vantage point for me under the bridge. I set the camera on panorama mode to get all three crossings: Rail, Road and the new Queensferry Crossing in the one picture.

Three bridges panorama

Three bridges panorama

Underneath the bridge

Underneath the Road Bridge

I found an interesting piece of carved stone behind a wall, it was just lying there!

Carved stone

Carved stone

Down at the old pier I discovered the site of the old railway that took foot passengers off the ferry. A similar railway operated from Port Arthur (at the opposite end of South Queensferry) on the south bank and is now a footpath. The cutting for the line on the northern side has been filled in and houses are built upon it, although the tunnel under the hill must still be there, the railway line joined the main line at Inverkeithing. The line was later re-used  for the naval base at Rosyth.

The site of the North Queensferry station

The site of the North Queensferry station

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The ferry slipway

At the foot of the hill where the road is closest to the river is the house with the sundial on the wall. It and it’s neighbour dates to the 1700s.

Sundial

Sundial

On the opposite side of the road is a public right of way, follow the steps down to Willie’s Well. There’s a plaque dating to 1937, although the well is a lot older than that. The well was once lit but now it is on need of some restoration.

Wullie's Well

Wullie’s Well

Following the road right to its end at the original Town Pier and the old lighthouse, which was open. The entry free was a donation. The stairs are narrow but the view is interesting. I never realised that the funny thing on top of the cupola was actually a chinmey.

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Inside the Town Pier Lighthouse

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There’s something that cries out “39 Steps” to me every time I see the Albert Hotel and the Railway Bridge, although the hotel had no part in the film. It must have seen a lot of comings and goings in its time.

Albert Hotel

Albert Hotel

North Queensferry is absolutely knee deep in history and you can get seriously distracted with all the nooks and crannies, such as Post Office Lane. I think the post office was in the building which is now a restaurant. The smell from the all day breakfast was tempting, VERY tempting.

Old Post Pooice lane

Old Post Office Lane

Backtracking to the Fife Coastal Path is the Lions Head Well from the lions head on the fountain head. It has some interesting iron work set into the wall beyond. One motif looks like a couple having an argument or fight.

Lions Head Well

Lions Head Well

The path goes up the side of Carlingnose Point under the Rail Bridge, as it does there is a set of seven brass plaques set into the wall looking like they were made by local school children.

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Farther on up there is a good view of the Rail Bridge.

forth-rail-bridge-north-queensferry-fcp-076-copyThere’s a small air raid shelter just off the path slowly surrendering to the brambles and local scallywags.

Air Raid Shelter

Air Raid Shelter

Over the other side of the Forth is the oil terminal at Hound Point, the ships engine could be plainly heard across the Firth.

Hound Point

Hound Point

There is a quarry at the top of the point, with tie-downs for barrage balloons set into the quarry floor, they lie to the left of the path.

Tie downs

Tie downs

A tree at the base of the escarpment has a plaque remembering a 10 year old dog.

Scruffy

Scruffy

The view from here is quite good, overlooking a ruined pier according to an information board, constructed for the Army during WW1 for landing supplies and ammunition. One source has this as a pier for a mining station.

Pier

Pier

The path makes its way down towards the shore along the army road passing what was the head of the Army pier and it eventually comes to Port Laing, a sandy bay, quite out of place with the rest of Carlingnose Point.
There are three houses here. There is a small memorial plaque set into the concrete near the northernost  house commemorating the sacrifice of Lt.George Paton, who gave his life to save his men when a grenade was badly thrown, June 1916. One source states that this area was a WW1 seaplane base.

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Port Laing

Port Laing

The path becomes a rough road as it makes its way towards the neck of the small bay at Inverkeithing and eventually passes behind RM Recycling. Many a famous ship met its end here. They haven’t broke a ship in years most of it’s business comes from other metal recycling.

Ship breakers yard

Ship breakers yard

My eye was caught by a small concrete hut partially buried in the trees on the opposite the scrapyard, it looks very much like emplacements and magazine lockers for a light anti-aircraft battery.

Anti-Aircraft gun site?

Anti-Aircraft gun site?

The FCP continues on the footpath up to a large building on the left, which was dormitory accommodation for Rosyth Workers. Under the railway bridge and up to the main road, which was for many years the Great North Road from the Queensferry to all points north. Turn right and head up the hill to Inverkeithing. There are some interesting buildings in the town, one notable one is at the top of the hill being part of a 15th Century Franciscan Friary, head for the small gate behind the Friary close to the Inverkeithing Civic Center, where the extensive ruins can be seen at the foot of the garden.
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Friary

Friary

You pass by the front of The Half Crown Public House with a plaque commemorating Samuel Greg, who lived here at one time and became an Admiral in the Russian Navy.

The Half Crown

The Half Crown

The town’s Mercat Cross can be seen just beyond the Friary, it is one of Scotland’s oldest Mercat Crosses, dating to the late 1300s.

Mercat Cross

Mercat Cross

Thomson’s Lodging is a yellow lime stone washed house just down the hill from the cross with an interesting lintel above the doorway.

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The inscription is in Old Scots.

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The Tolbooth Tower and Town House is at the foot of the road.

Old Tollbooth

Old Tollbooth

Turn right and head down hill for a short distance. You will cross a disused railway, which was where the line from North Queensferry tied into the main line. Before you turn right, look down the hill, there is a small stone pillar which marked the eastern gate of the town’s wall.

Site of 16th Century East Port

Site of 16th Century East Port

The FCP follows the road down towards the shore passing a Doocot that’s been converted to a house, the addition of the semi-circular extension for a spiral staircase is a nice homage to Scots architecture of the time.

Doocot dun up

Doocot dun up

The path goes along the front of houses then around the back of the Stevedore business to Prestonhill Quarry, which described before.

Prestonhill path towards St. David's Bay

Prestonhill path towards St. David’s Bay

The tarred  path continues to St. David’s Bay the last part of the Dalgety Bay housing development. In olden days it was a coaling port, supplied by a horse drawn wagon way from the Fife hinterland around Crossgates.

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St. David's Bay

St. David’s Bay

There now follows a dreary three miles or so as the FCP makes its way past the town it is true the route is punctuated by a good number of interesting places but it’s no fun plodding by the houses.

The FCP comes to a small promontory with a WW1 gun emplacement at Downing Point There were two 4.7inch guns mounted on promontory with a fire control point between them. The name J CODY 1915 is written into the cement at the top of the pillar. There is also a concrete datum point set into the top with which looks like thumb prints in the cement.
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Downing Point battery

Downing Point battery

Two searchlights were sited at the far end of the point, now marked with what looks like a channel or submarine cable marker.

Search light location, Downing Point battery

Search light location, Downing Point battery

The camp for the battery was in the woods and now built over by the houses.

You will see the cupola of the Mortuary chapel of the Earls of Moray, dating to 1731. The way to the chapel is not marked, either follow the FCP along the high hedge, turning left at the top or turn left before the hedge and there is a path through the houses beyond.

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Chapel on the left, Donibristle House, right

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The houses here are expensive but look dire with their yellow bricks, which are totally out of place and more in keeping with the leafy suburbs of a major English town than a Fife new town.

The FCP passes in front of the wings of the old Donibristle House the centre piece beyond is a modern reconstruction. You can walk up to the beautiful ironwork between the Wings then re-join the FCP by the stairs down to the harbour.
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Donibristle House

Donibristle House

You can walk past or through the Dalgety Bay Yacht Club to arrive at the old Stables for Donibristle House. I chose to walk along the shore with its softer grass compared to the hard pavement.

Donibristle House Stables

Donibristle House Stables

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You will have by this point seen the Danger Radiation Signs around this part of the shoreline. Radioactive particles have said to have originated from the Radium used to paint the dials on aircraft instruments, dumped from the RN Aircraft Yard at Donibristle a little way up the hill from the bay. Either way Radiation Bay is quite an extensive contaminated area and will probably never be cleaned up.
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Radiation Bay

Radiation Bay

The path does through some woodland by the shore before heading inland and up a slight hill to St.Bridget’s Church, which dates to around 1200 although the buildings are 18th century. The church served the Dalgety village which had disappeared by 1836. I left the exploration of the church for another day as it was the playground of some children.

St. Bridget's Chapel

St. Bridget’s Chapel

The FCP now heads away inland up the hill before turning right onto an avenue which goes all the way to Aberdour, passing the Braefoot Bay Marine Terminal, where I recognised the wail of the B-C-01 compressors, signifying that all is well with my pension fund.

Braefoot Terminal

Braefoot Terminal

The FCP goes under the access road with some interesting murals. It’s a good idea to go under and not across the road. The guys come belting up the hill and get little notice of anyone crossing…. 30 years worth of experience talking here!

The FCP passes by St.Colm House and makes its way along Beech Avenue.

Cyclist, Beech Avenue

Cyclist, Beech Avenue

Past the golf course.

Aberdour Golf Course

Aberdour Golf Course

To Aberdour, passing through what’s left of a pair of iron gates, turning right onto the main street, where I stopped for lunch at the Aberdour Hotel where I had a nice long rest and a fairly enjoyable meal.

Aberdour Hotel

Aberdour Hotel

To be honest, I was footsore by now and it wasn’t a great idea to continue on to Burntisland but I did. My pace had dropped considerably and I was more or less hobbling along.

There was a nice Georgian enamelled post box sign by the post office in front of the hotel.

Georgian post Pox

Georgian post Pox

Aberdour Castle is worth exploring if you have the time, there’s a path by the train station.

Anyway I followed the FCP as it turned right, off the main street down to the Firth to a nice wee beach and the 18th century pier by the boat club.

Aberdour Yacht Club

Aberdour Yacht Club

The path clings to the side of a hill as it makes its way to Hawkcraig Point. It meets the road and then double backs on itself climbing up the hill by way of rough stone steps.

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However it’s well worth making the short diversion to the point. There’s a nice seafood restaurant here and the site of a WW1 seaplane base, of which noting survives. It is thought that a hangar existed on the grass in front of the house.

Site of the sea plane base

Site of the sea plane base

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Looking straight out to Inchcolm

The path up the hill will take you to the top and great views over the Firth. The path descends down a long set of steps towards two curious red and white painted  pillars. They puzzled me until I worked it out that when seen from the Firth they will be in alignment when entering the channel for the Barefoot Marine Terminal.

Channel markers

Channel markers

The area around here was the site of HMS Tarlair and was used for hydrophone research during WW1, nothing remains but the bases of a few huts.
There is a curious structure built on the rocks looks like the base of a hut but it’s use is beyond me.

HMS Tralair

HMS Tarlair

The FCP then follows a road and numerous car parks to the Silver Sands. You can get a bite to eat here if you are that way inclined. I hobbled on past the restaurant to the far end of the park and the path to Burntisland.

The way forward

The way forward

Years ago, when I cycled this way and it was a muddy track and now it is tarred in the flat sections and a good whinstone path in the uppy and doony parts. path-aberdour-fcp-310-copy

It’s nice and pleasant walking along by the shore until the way goes under the railway into the woods.

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The trains will pass quite frequently breaking the monotony of the path. A small cave is up in the trees but I was too tired to go scrambling up the steep incline to go investigate. Maybe another day.

The path passes a quaint waterfall encrusted with lime deposits making an interesting sight.

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There is a small harbour to the right, with a derelict boatshed with the title Kinghorn Yacht Services, strange as it is no where near Kinghorn. The harbour was built in the early 1800s to ship lime from a quarries farther uphill.

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There must have been a bridge over the railway to a loading point or siding, however only the foundations still survive.

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The skyline is dominated by a radio mast that carries the signal from Radio Forth, the original location for this mast was close to the Braefoot Gas Terminal, moved for safety reasons. Warning signs about the radiation danger are fixed to the fence. There’s nothing like being cooked to music.

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The last time I was on this path it was a red muddy mess, there was an aluminium works to the left, and the bauxite ore got washed down hill and onto the path. Everything in Burntisland seemed to be red, however the works closed down and the site is now used for houses and we have a fine path to follow into Burntisland.

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I put the camera away at this point as it had started to rain at this point, growing steadily heavier as I made my way up the hill to the right and down along the high street.

I hobbled as far as the car park at the far end of the street, which will be my starting point for the next stage.

All that was left for me to do was hobble back, almost all the way along the High Street to a bus stop where I caught the No.7 bus back to Inverkeithing. Planning failed as this bus did not go to Ferrytoll leaving me with another mile to walk to where my car was parked.

All in, and I really was all in, I must have walked 14 miles and to be honest it was too much. However that’s the first 29 miles of the FCP completed and …Mair tae come

 

 

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