Posts Tagged Black and white

Union Canal – Linlithgow to Ratho

Thirteen miles in six photos, the second part of my walking blog along the Union Canal from Linlithgow to Ratho.

I started off from a free, long-term car park in Linlithgow near St. Mary’s Hospital, walking into town to join the towing path where I left if last week… and it was still there!

The boats in the basin have changed around, giving me a clear photo of Victoria, the steam yacht I seen last week, so that was nice. Walking out along the tow path I seen a canal boat round the corner and disappear, a lost opportunity I thought then I realised that I was catching it up, my 3 mph ish walking pace was actually faster than the boat’s cruising speed.
Catching up with it, I joked about the Tortoise and the Hare and then left if in my dust as I strode away from it. I’m not that daft as I know that I will soon start to tire while that engine will keep on plodding along all day at the same speed but the thought was nice when it lasted.

I discovered a new stone on the tow path marked “L PB.” Checking up on some old maps I found out that it marked the border of the Linlithgow Parliamentary and Police boundary, perhaps shades of the wild west with the boats sprinting away from the cops, giving up the chase at the county line.

About two miles out of Linlithgow I came across The Park Bistro, it looked like a nice place to stop and rest, too early for me plus I had already brought my sandwiches so I kept on walking.
This was certainly the busiest stretch for boats meeting another coming towards me a mile or so later, a veritable rush-hour on water.
I took this photo near Philipston, the colour was just too good to convert to monochrome

The blue skies were deceptive as there was a wicked wind blowing behind me… good for pushing me on but not so good for keeping me warm, although I did manage to walk for almost all the way wearing a T-shirt.

The red topped shale bings of Philipston dominates the next part of the walk. This was the site of Scotland’s first oil boom, were oil was extracted from shale by heat, the red stone residue being dumped in huge spoil heaps that are dotted around West Lothian.

The bings gave great shelter and it was really pleasant walking here, so much so that I found a place to stop and have lunch and that canal boat, which I left behind at Linlithgow caught me up.
A car park about a mile past Philipston gave a degree or mirth, the Police are trying to curb the off road motorbikes and they urge anyone to report bikes, giving the “locus as Philipstoun North Bings.” Who else would use the word Locus but the polis?

The view at Bridge 38

Bridge 35 gave some variety, with a monogrammed key stone and iron balustrades. It seems to be over a minor road bridge but they must have been out to impress someone as monogrammed stone work costs extra.

Another stone, which proved to be a real oddity came up near Winchburgh, it stood beside a regular mile stone bearing the inscription ” DIVISION BETWINT SECOND AND THIRD STACKS.” Strange enough that it is in old Scots but just what was the second and third stacks?

Further on, past Winchburgh, a canal barge lies rusting in the weeds on the opposite bank its side half gone.

A contrast as a modern barge with crew accommodation and a hydraulic grab moored up a while later.

Another oddity, all the British Waterway gates across the tow path that I have encountered since leaving Falkirk have been open but one at Winchburgh which was locked closed.

Uncharacteristically Bridge 31 bore the date of 1820 on the key stone, the canal being opened in 1822, provided some interest. A little while later at Bells Hill Wharf and the headquarters of the Bridge 19-40 Canal Society, no disputing their territory then. More power to folk like this as they believe in the canal and it’s future.

Out of town and the partially restored Niddry Castle comes up on the left, the folks have taken a long time to restore this old tower house. A little further on and the Broxburn Alps comes into view, this large collection of shale bings dominates the view as the canal curves around them.This is taken from a distance with the town of Broxburn at the foot of the bings and a hail shower is threatening. The canal contours for five miles, when the direct route is only two, but then again no locks were needed to be built so money was saved.
I nearly caught up with that canal boat again as I was nearing Broxburn, the wind must have played merry hell with its speed. I could have overtook it once more but I still had a long way to walk so I screwed the bubbin’ and kept my walking pace at a sensible rate.

The trip through Broxburn wasn’t that bad except for the large number of dog-eggs by the path, that’s folk for you.

A sign on the outskirts of the town welcoming you to Port Buchan. I wonder that that was for?
I kept on going under the A8 road bridge, which didn’t have a number, indicating that this route was made later, after the opening of the canal and the original route of the A8 may have went through Broxburn at one time.
A strange piece of sculpture on the opposite bank, I later found out that it was entitled “Jupiter” part of the Kirkhill Pillar Project. “Saturn” appeared under Bridge 25. Stopping for a rest in the lee of the bridge I read a plaque that this and other art works were inspired by the Earl of Buchan’s 1775 Solar System, when Saturn was the furthest known planet and the drawing represents the motion and nature of Saturn’s rings as described by James Clark Maxwell.
Port Buchan for the Earl of Buchan, that makes sense now.

I took the picture of the above Broxburn Alps from near here.
The canal goes under the M8 motorway, it’s course being changed as the canal was closed to navigation with the building of the motorway. The new bridge built for the Millennium celebrations bore the usual inscription MM, standing for Millennium Money… and you thought it was the Roman numerals for 2,000?
The noise of the motorway is an unwelcome intrusion to the peace of the canal, it dies off but unfortunately comes back later on.

The Almond Aqueduct is not too far away, it is smaller than the Avon Aqueduct but none the less as impressive.
One more Aqueduct over a small road and you arrive at Wilkie’s basin with an island in the middle and a wooden fort, it must have been put there to amuse the motorway traffic, and although I have been driving by here for years and I can’t say that I have ever noticed it.

The Indoor climbing area come up on your left as the canal skirts past the old quarry and then you know you are nearing civilisation when the wall appears by the tow path, obviously built to keep people off the land. Rounding a corner you see a low building ahead, which is the beginning of the end as that’s Ratho basin and the end of the walk.

It started to hail again as I neared the Seagull Trusts’ building, sensing the end I never even bothered putting on the fleece, just took it in my stride and walked on. Finally leaving the path at Bridge 15 and a bus stop to the right. I only waited 10 minutes on the Lothian bus only to get chucked off because I didn’t have the £1.60 fare in the correct change, so I had to make a 3/4 mile walk down to Ratho Station to wait on the No. 38A First bus to take me back to Linlithgow and he had no problems taking my money.
I think the Lothian bus drivers are not allowed to count for themselves but keep that quiet.

So there we go, only eight miles left to do and I think I will cycle out and back along the tow path rather than rely on the Lothian buses as I now grudge them their money. All I have left to do now is find some place to leave the car and it’s done but there’s one thing for sure….


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Union Canal – Falkirk Wheel to Linlithgow

The next long distance walk that I would like to do is one that has also been on my to-do list for some time.
However, when I looking into the practicalities of doing it as a series of day walks I soon discovered that it was going to be harder than I thought, so I had to change my plans, turning my attention towards the Union Canal instead.

The Union Canal, was opened in 1822, linking Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde (F&C) Canal at Falkirk. Having closed to commercial traffic in 1933 and officially closing in 1965.
The canal had a resurgence with the re-opening of the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal for leisure purposes.
The problem for the Union Canal was the final locks joining it to the F&C were filled in and the land developed for housing. The solution was the Falkirk Wheel, a modern engineering masterpiece, being able to lift one boat up, while lowering another down and all for a pittance in power consumption.

My goal for the day was to walk the first 12 miles of the Union Canal, from The Wheel to Linlithgow.

I am going to spare you a blow by blow account because navigation is straight forward and to be brutally honest it is less than interesting in places. It does have a few spots of interesting industrial archaeology, which I happen to be interested in, so I thought that I would cut the trip down to just six pictures.

The biggest thing in the area are the Kelpie Sculptures, which are located beside the F&C at Grangemouth. The prototype for the sculptures are being displayed in a car park close to the Wheel, which is in the background of this picture and to give you an idea of scale, there is a person bottom right standing looking upwards in awe at the size of the thing.

After walking up the path beside the Wheel, through the Roughcastle Tunnel, the towing path you are walking upon becomes tarred over its entire length, it is good for pushing prams and riding bicycles but after while, becomes painful for walking upon.

British Waterways, who operate the canal are in the process of continual maintenance and to control the weeds, which choke the canal, The task is made easier with this floating weed dredger, seen here moored up at the Roughcastle Basin.

The canal towpath is busy around the built up areas with walkers, dog-walkers, ramblers, runners and cyclists, although I think I only saw four boats under way on the canal all the time I was walking along it.

The Falkirk Tunnel is noteworthy, it is 590 yards, 600m in length and is mostly bare rock with a safety rail running alongside, being lit by fluorescent strip lights and a string of coloured lights. It is well worth seeing. I brought along a torch with me but it really wasn’t necessary. It’s a bit wet at the beginning and at the end but is more or less dry in the middle.
I kind of broke with tradition and made a colour photo, rather than my usual monochrome.

Along the way is this swing bridge, rusting in the weeds. It connected both sides of the Nobel Explosives factory, which made detonators and is now history, the factory being demolished and developed.
The canal can be summed up as mile after mile of walking, sometimes town, sometimes country. The monotony being broken up by distance markers every half mile from the start of the old canal towards Edinburgh, so the first one you’ll see is 1/2 and 31-1/2 miles. They do become depressing to read as you realise how slow your progress is.
The bridges too are marked with numbers, starting from 62 and provide entertainment in trying to remember the number of the next one… I’m easily amused.
Number 62, is also known as the Laughin’/Greetin’ Bridge as a laughing is carved on one keystone and on the opposite the face is crying.

Four hours later and after crossing over the impressive Avon Aqueduct, I arrived at Linlithgow very much foot sore.
Some children, one in particular were being taught an important lesson in boat stability, he paid the price and was being dragged out of the water into the boat when I passed.

It’s a short walk down from the Linlithgow canal basin to the train station, for the train back to Camelon “Kemlon” and a half mile walk after that, along the F&C back to the car park at The Wheel.

Logistically, the remaining 22 miles poses a problem, too far for a day’s walk and apart from the prospect of a convoluted bus trip and no train stations until Edinburgh means that I may do this it by bicycle, returning from Edinburgh by train.

Well that’s all from me. I’ll be back with the concluding part sometime soon but there’s one thing for sure….

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Fife Coastal Path – Tayport to Wormit Bay

This six mile stretch of the Fife Coastal Path is a small but significant part of the path for me as not only is it the penultimate section of the walk but it passes the 100 mile mark since starting out at Kincardine.


Starting off from where I left the path the day before at the small car park, off Shanwell Road on the outskirts of Tayport, the FCP makes its way through a holiday caravan park, following the access road, past the reception building, with publicly available toilets to emerge at the far side at a grassy park.

Lost message, Tayport , FCP-101 003 copy

Lost meaning

I relived part of my youth by walking along the top of the sea wall all the way to the end before dropping down to the footpath then turning left into harbour Road… I wonder where that goes?
You may possibly be able to stick closer to the coast as there is a footpath between the back of the houses and the shore but to be safe I just stuck to the waymarked road as it made its way to the harbour.
The harbours heyday came in the 1850s with the arrival of the railway. Passengers would disembark from the train, board the ferry for the short journey across the Tay to Broughty Ferry before continuing their journey on the train.

Old Slipway, Tayport , FCP-101 010 copy
The service stopped with the opening of the Tay Rail Bridge, briefly resuming following the disaster, finally stopping as a rail ferry in 1887 with the reopening of the bridge. The passenger service continued for another 50 years.
Pleasure craft is the main trade here and a number of boats were being lifted back into the water by a large and expensive to hire, crane.

Back into the water, Tayport , FCP-101 009 copy

There is an even older pier here with a bell at the end, usually they just have knobs on, unfortunately I was not able to find out much about the history of this one but it did give a view to an unusual warehouse with it’s own slipway, that has been converted into a house.

The Bell, Tayport , FCP-101 014 copy

Warehouse, Tayport , FCP-101 015 copy

A little further on, The Duke of Kent, an old RNLI lifeboat, which served at Eastbourne between 1979 and 1994, sits high and dry now on top of another old pier.

Duke of Kent, Tayport , FCP-101 018 copy
The path seems to end at a group of houses, the FCP goes to the left and heads towards a narrow gap between two walls, while an alternative route is to go around behind the houses to the right, staying close to the shore. Either way you’ll end up at the narrow gap.

The gap leads onto a path on the route of the old railway line and bizarrely crosses a railway bridge, whose cutting has been completely filled in. It then continues for a short distance before returning to the line of the old railway.

While this route is quiet and traffic free, you may wish to stick closer to the coast and walk along the road, they both go to the same place. The choice is yours.

It’s nice to know that the fun police hasn’t totally sanitised children’s play as this swing by the path demonstrates.

Playing dangerously, Tayport , FCP-101 026 copy
You pass the East Lighthouse, which built by Robert Stevenson and has not been lit for 150 years and then later on the taller, West Lighthouse, again built by Stevenson and has been in use since 1823.

Lighthouse, Taymort , FCP-101 034 copy

Lighthouse, Tayport , FCP-101 035 copy
Soon after passing the lighthouse the view opens up with vistas of the road bridge and Dundee.

First glimpse of the Road Bridge, Tayport , FCP-101 037 copy

The railway line path abruptly ends and you are directed onto a shared use footpath along side the road. At one point the path enters a lay-by, you can go around the lay-by or directly across the grass to the other side, the choice is yours. The path continues alongside the road, separated by a wall passing a group of houses on the right, which was the site of the Newport town gas works. Down on the shore is the mast and aerial for Tay AM.
Soon afterwards you will come up to and go under the Tay Road Bridge with the colourful sculpture by Sharon Averbuch entitled “Distant perspectives, perspective distances” to the right.

Distant Perspectives, Newport , FCP-101 045 copy

A fine pair of legs, Newport , FCP-101 047 copy

The path continues from now using pavement through Newport, Woodhaven and Wormit. A small point of interest is a Victorian Post box on the right as you enter the town.

Newport – on – Tay

VR post box, Newport , FCP-101 048 copy
The houses to the right peters out and you get a nice view of Dundee. There is a public drinking fountain here that has recently been restored. It was gifted to the town by Mrs, Bythe Martin 1882, with the motto “Keep the pavement Dry” on every other panel around the roof. The distinctive heron in the middle is typical of this design from the MacFarlane’s Saracen Ironworks, Glasgow and is a feature of numerous town parks.
The water fountain is no longer working, these things seems to have fallen out of favour in recent times.

You come into the town centre with a junction, if you fancy something to eat then I can recommend the Manna Café to your left, which is a short distance up the Cupar Road.
Back on track and just before the Spar shop was this painted wall sign harking back to genteel days long past.

Past Glory, Newport , FCP-101 058 copy

Keep on walking with the Tay to your right, past a hotel until you come to the bottom of a slight slope, which was the Ferry Terminal for the main crossing between Fife and Dundee until the opening of the road bridge.

Ferry Terminal, Newport , FCP-101 059 copy

Tay Ferry Terminal, Newport, FCP-101 061_stitch copy

The low buildings to the left housed seven shops including a police station and fell into disuse when the terminal closed. The building opposite was the old post office, with two stamp machines set into the wall.


Stamped out, Newport , FCP-101 060 copy

The site now is now a boat yard, so the slipways are still getting some use.

A couple of interesting buildings on your right, one is a villa down by the water with a turret like thing on the roof the other shortly after has decorative balustrades on the roof and looks totally out of place.

There is a real oddity shortly afterwards, a Victorian, turreted castle with a distinctive yellow lime wash applied to the stone harling. You are meant to get the impression that there are three stories to this castle but the third floor is an illusion.

Castle Brae, Newport , FCP-101 073 copy


The view to the right opens out again with the road making a slight bend to the right, on the corner is a sign for Woodhaven Harbour. I just could not resist the lure to go down and have a look.
The harbour was the home to No.333 Squadron Royal Norwegian Air Force, who flew Catalina flying boats from here during WW2. There is a memorial with a dedication made by King Haakon of Norway, who escaped to the UK when his country fell, living in Scotland as a guest of another great Norwegian Christian Saalvensen.

Norwegian memorial, Woodhaven , FCP-101 090 copy

There are two sets of platforms and ramps at the waters edge, this is where the Catalina flying boats were brought to the shore for maintenance, the platforms allowing access to the engines.

A memorial to the Old Boys from the Training Ship Mars, who fell during The Great War is by the slip way. The ship was moored off Woodhaven until the 1920s. reverting back to its original name of HMS Unicorn and is preserved in Dundee. It is also one of the oldest Royal Navy ships still afloat.

TS Mars Memorial, Woodhaven , FCP-101 078 copy


Back up the small hill and on with the walk. At some point between passing a church on your left and the fork in the road ahead is the 100 mile mark on the Fife Coastal Path. There is nothing to mark this spot just the grin on ones face is enough.

The FCP continues along a small road on your right, which goes under the Tay Rail Bridge, if you look over the hedge you will see the piers for the old bridge which collapsed 28th December 1879.

The road then starts to descend towards Wormit Bay and a small car park, where I ended this section of the walk by turning left and following the footpath to Gauldry uphill and then cutting under the railway to come out on the main road where I waited for the last time on this walk on the first of two busses, to take me back to the starting point at Tayport. (I could have re-traced my steps back to the main road but I would have never known where that path came out. )

Tay Rail Bridge Panorama , FCP-101 099 copy

The view back from Wormit Bay


… and that concludes the penultimate part of Going Coastal, along the Fife Coastal Path… but there’s one thing for sure…

Thurs mair


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Following the front wheel – until I ran out of road.

Went for a run on the Beemer today, badly needing some BMW therapy, I didn’t know where I was going but I knew where I didn’t want to go, into Perthshire or into Fife as I have been spending too much time there lately. The south meant going over the Bridge the road works just boil my brain, so west it was.

Along the hillfoots; Muckhart, Dollar, Tillicoultry, Alva and Menstrie to Stirling, Through Stirling and out towards Balfron, not Aberfoyle, too many tourists, too many dawdlers.
Drymen, then until I literally ran out of road on the shores of Loch Lomond.

It’s the first time that I have been here in nearly 30 years and a lot has changed. The biggest thing was the establishment of the Loch Lomond National Park, they have certainly had their fingers in a lot of pies, effectively killing off the common man culture that used to come up from Glasgow, camp up, make a fire by the loch and drink themselves happy.
That’s all gone. First it was an alcohol ban and then just recently a wild camping ban. Now you need a permit to pitch your tent by the shores and only at designated places.

I passed through Balmaha, a village and a tourist destination of the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and kept on going to Rowardennan, some six miles down a narrow road, to the end of the road.
Coming out of Balmaha a large yellow and black sign proclaims, No stopping, No Parking for six miles. It’s a yellow sign, few people will realise it is an advisory notice, but the Park Nazis want you to behave and keep on going… however the first thing you come to is a car park, run by the National Park. So you can stop but only when they let you.

I stopped, got off the bike and went down to the loch shore and the first thing that struck me was that the place was so clean the whole area looks sanitised and made into some gardening center idyll. The stones on the shore were like gravel, no boulders, no driftwood, just boring gravel.

Rocks  Loch Lomond 004 copy

The grand scenery on the far side of the loch.

Time to get back on the bike and travel up and down, up and down, left and right until I ran  out of road at Rowardennan.

The Forestry Commission was getting in on the act here, £3 for a whole days parking! No mention of motorbikes being excepted, just where you stick the ticket if open to debate here!
The hotel here used to be a Mecca for bikers and now, not one other than myself. Times really have changed.

Beyond the car park, there is a granite memorial with an inscribed stone nearby, “this land rising from the shore of the loch to the summit of Ben Lomond, was dedicated in 1996 as the Ben Lomond National Park to be held in perpetuity as a tribute to those who gave their lives in the service of their country.”

Park Memorial, Rowardennan  Loch Lomond 014 copy

The memorial is like a large Q, for question.
Probably a symbolism between the all encompassing nature of the National Park and the top of Ben Lomond.

I noticed that the steamer pier has been fenced off with the ubiquitous Heras fencing. Allowed to go to rack and ruin when the Maid of the Loch was laid up. Let’s hope it will be refurbished when the boat is back in business.

Speaking of the Ben, it was shrouded in cloud, here it is towering above the Youth Hostel.

Youth Hostel, Rowardennan  Loch Lomond 006 copy

No doubt there would be a fair number of Munro baggers up there, queuing in the rain to get to the summit. I’m kind of glad that the last time I was up there, I came in from the north, away from all this nonsense.

I didn’t feel like making this one a true monochrome as the wee beech tree give the whole picture a little lift, so I bled some of the colour back into the monochrome.

With that done it was time to head back, down the wibbly-wobbly way to Balmaha and my appointment with a folk hero.

Tom Weir, a working class lad from Springburn in Glasgow became an accomplished climber, hill walker, author and television presenter, with his takes of his travels around Scotland.
He spent his latter years at Gartocharn, on the south end of the loch maintaining his association, with the Loch and the Ben.
He died in 2006 and a bronze statue was erected in Balmaha on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2014.

Tom Weir, Balmaha  Loch Lomond 018 copy

Tam with his trade mark wooly bunnit.

I really wonder what Tam would make of all this now…

Time to start heading back, following the front wheel to Drymen, then up to near enough Aberfoyle (the Dukes Pass will wait for a quieter day), out past the Lake of Menteith, to Thornhill, Doune and up the A9 cutting through Gleneagles back home to Kinross, in time to give the bike a hose down and put it away for another day…. but there’s one thing for sure….

Thurs mair

Dedicated, as ever to my number one fan, my darlin’ wife.

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Fife Coastal Path – Anstruther to Kingsbarns (Part 1.)

Part 1. Anstruther to Crail.

Another installment of Going Coastal, one man’s blisters or burst attempt at the 116 mile Fife Coastal Path, which er, goes around the sticky out bit of Fife from here to there.

This time I am walking from the quaint Fish Supper capital of Anstruther to the picturesque, almost nothingness of Kingsbarns. Because I took so many pictures, I will split this 11 mile section up into two parts, basically: before and after lunch.

Arriving at Anstruther at half past ten to find the place busy with visitors, the first couple of car parks were full, leaving the one at the end of the harbour, opposite the Scottish Fisheries Museum (you should have a look it’s bigger than you think.) I thought that I was going to get stung for parking, for the first time on my walk on the Fife Coastal Path, however I saved my £1.40 for four hours or more, for another day as the Kingdom Council only start charging after April. Result.

Boots on and I was off. I didn’t get very far before something distracted me, a memorial dedicated to “the most futile submarine attack of the war.” The SS Avondale Park and the Norwegian ship Sneland 1, were torpedoed at 2240 hrs off the Isle of May, 7th May 1945.  Twenty minutes before the end of WW2 in Europe. The memorial on the harbour wall makes for interesting reading. Spare a thought for the Merchant Marine, who had a similar attrition rate as the RAF Bomber Command.
For those in peril on the sea.

There is a piece of sculpture just beyond the memorial, with a fishing theme. Anstruther still is a busy fishing port but it is mostly pleasure craft that fills the berths here. Pittenweem is the Kingdon’s main fishing port.

Fishing memorial, with the Isle of May in the background

Almost immediatly after leaving the memorial you turn right and enter Anstruther’s forgotten twin town, Cellardyke. It’s narrow streets and equally narrow pavements make walking on the road an attractive option. Just keep your lugs open for traffic.
There’s a lovely piece of stained glass window on one of the houses. Must have belonged to someone of means at one time.
A narrow lane goes off uphill from the street.

The lane

The street ends in front of the Town Hall, with the old Merkit Cross in front of it, the cross is dated to 1642.. I would have taken a photo of it but the guy on the seat beside it looked so comfy that I didn’t want to disturb him. There is an inscription above the cross “Erected by Stephen Williamson and David Fowler For municipal and other purposes in this their native town AD 188*” The last bit has been weathered off, but it is the thought that counts.


Town Hall, Cellardyke ,FCP-71 007 copy

Cellardyke Town Hall

The way goes sharp right then sharp left as past the culturally important Golden Lion Chinese take-away to continue along the street. There is a step house here with a North East Fife Council Environmental Award winner 1993 plaque on the wall beyond.


Step House

I caught this inside one house. I don’t know if it was cheeky to photograph it or not but it deserves sharing

Star Trek protests

Each of the Star Trek characters is holding a placard protesting various themes

Farther on, there is a house on the left that has a plaque on the wall, celebrating “Peter Smith. Known as Poetry Peter, who was born in this house 1874. Fisherman poet of Cellardyke.”

Peter the Poets house

The road eventually comes out at the harbour with a common drying green on the level below.

Skinfast Haven

The harbour is empty of boats,  extensively modified and the piers moved to its present layout in 1854. One of the oldest parts is the section to the left, built by Dutch dyke builders in 1452.

The Fife Coastal Path, FCP continues passing another stair house with two beams protruding from the roof for the dormers, probably used for lifting fishing nets to the attic space for storage.


step house, Cellardyke ,FCP-71 019 copy

Stair house with lifting beams above the Dormer windows.


One of the last houses on the street one time it was the old cooperage, where they made the barrels that the fish were packed in. Now a house with the name Ar-Tigh, literally translated as on-house or I wonder a play on Oor House?


I liked the symmetry of this house.
Just beyond this house is a play park and on the shore beyond is perhaps the best of the outdoor swimming pools along the Costa Del Fife. Complete with a paddling pool for the bairns and a diving board for the big bairns. There are still traces of green tiles around the walls of the paddling pool.

Outdoor Pool

It has definitely seen better days and was treacherous getting down for photos.

We now leave Cellardyke and head out on a broad grassy path towards Caiplie Farm at the end of the bay. I get the feeling that there must have been something here at one time as the shore is littered by building debris. Sea worn bricks are everywhere. Another thing you will see a lot is creels, if I saw one that day I must have seen a hundred, all washed up on the beach by the strong seas and a loss to the fishermen.
I passed a small memorial to something along the way, don’t know what, a vertical stone surrounded by other stones and flowers. It meant something to someone.

In memorium

That’s Caiplie farm in the background

Grassy track

I didn’t know it but this turned out to be the best section of the path that I would walk on that day, good going, flat with a slight give underfoot, heaven for walking on.

There’s a footpath up to the main road from here but it leads up to a busy road, not pleasant for walking on.


Another thing that struck me as I walked along was the number of cockle shells that littered the beach, I thought to myself there must be good beds out there in the Firth and then the penny dropped as to what that wee boat was doing out in the Firth, dredging for cockles!

Cockle dredger

It’s funny you have constant companions as you make your way up the coast; Grangemouth Refinery, Forth Bridges, Hound Point, Oil Rigs, ships at anchor, Inchcolm Island, Inchkeith island and finally the Isle of May. Each one is always there to then slip quietly out of your vision to be replaced with another. The Isle of May will be the last of these companions for a while.
The path, passes Caiplie farm and starts to degenerate, at one point you have to use a series of stepping stones to get over a boggy bit.

Stepping stones

There is the keel of an old boat among the stones on the foreshore


Driven up onto the shore and rotted away. The next point of interest is the Caiplie Caves among the weathered sandstone, there are some lovely colours among the rocks. The sheep here are no scared either.

Baaa-bera having her lunch

Did I mention lovely colours, not much good in a monochrome photo, so breaking with tradition.

Caiplie Caves

The sheep must sleep in these caves as it’s rank inside. the largest one at the end has some interesting cave paintings.

Love under Orion, 2012 to 2015 Nothing lasts but nothing is lost.

Three years… I wonder if this was St.Andrews University Students?
There is supposed to be some Pictish carvings in the caves but I missed them.

From here the path goes up a slight hill and down again, giving me an opportunity for a bit of street photography.

She was probably puzzled at at the sight of the T-shirt wearing, camera wielding lunatic, while everyone else was all wrapped up. I done the whole walk with the jacket in my rucksack. It rained for a while but the fleece was as waterproof as a tea bag so I made the most of it and kept on walking…. singing as I went… aye right.

The Fife Coastal Trust are making an effort to clean up the beach of all the rubbish that gets washed ashore, there are numerous fishing boxes filled with rubbish awaiting collection along the way. I thought this was ironic, a sandwich board with the message “Take Pride in your Beach,” which must drifted down from Broughty Ferry as it has Dundee Council’s logo on it. Just goes to show the International nature of flotsam.

Take your litter home

A face in a rock.

Cubist face

Or maybe I was just running low on blood sugar….

Wee floors wedged among the rocks, I broke with tradition retained some of the colour.

Wee floors

There are some anti-invasion fence post sockets here on the shore, all that’s left are blocks of concrete with the rotting stump if an I-beam sunk into them. I’ll show a better photo of them in part 2.
It would appear that the ruined cottages known as The Pans marked the site of the maltings of salt, active in the mid 1800s but now no more.

The Pans

The path ahead starts to rise with a fenced enclosure at the top. I think this must have been a radio installation at one time, now only two concrete bases and a bunded fuel tank remain. The path splits here, the low route and FCP is on the seaward side while the high route is on the landward side of the fence. I was curious as to what the building was on the shore, whose purpose these days is to advertise the Golf Hotel in Crail was, so I took the low route.
The best that I can think of was a small generator building.

Better to take the low route as you come around the headland and you are looking at Crail from a nice angle. The path climbs up towards some houses, to where the path from the radio mast joins and continues along the road to eventually emerge onto the main road through Crail. You get a great view of the harbour from here.


There’s an old Fife milestone by the roadside with curious distances, well curious to me today Kilry 2-3/4, Largo Pier 14-1/4, B’Island 32 and Crail 1/4 and K’barns 5-1/2. These were important crossing destinations in their day. No mention of Leven or Kirkcaldy. Kilry is Kilrenny (Cellardyke.) There is an ordinance survey benchmark symbol on one face of the milestone.
The cast iron information cap may be a reproduction, or it was returned at some point in the recent past.

Crail Mile stone

You’ll see a white pillar with a basket on the hill to the right, peer over the wall to the left and you’ll see the other, if you are out at sea and you can line-up these two lights, then you are in the channel for the harbour and not heading for the rocks.

Channel marker

I went looking for somewhere for lunch after that is finding a money machine first I had he bus fare back to Anstruther, priorities first.

Lunch time, Crail ,FCP-71 071 copy

I settled on Julias Eatery and Art Gifts, where I had a nice lunch and a short rest ready to continue for the second part of this section of the FCP. But there’s one thing for sure…..

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Fife Coastal Path – East Wemyss to Elie (Part 2.)

Going Coastal, my Blisters or Burst walk along the Fife Coastal Path, this section describes the path between Lundin Links to Elie.

Leaving the Homeland Trust Cafe, I walked down the road towards the golf course and around the corner towards the Clubhouse. The way goes through the car park and onto a small lane beyond, which comes out at an open grassy space by the water. It is tempting to walk along the coast, it can be done, although there is a river ahead and getting back up to the path may be a problem although not in insurmountable one….
The Fife Coastal Path, FCP then follows a  residential street for a short distance before dropping down to cross the river by a bridge. The Crusoe Hotel is on your right and was my intended lunch stop.
The FCP continues along a narrow road to come out by the water and a remarkable statue created by local artist Alan Faulds, entitled “Malagan” – named after sculptures from Papua New Guinea. It was carved from five separate sections of Scottish oak. A carved gate behind it is also worth looking at.


A short distance beyond that, mounted high on a house to your left is a statue of Alexander Selkirk, who was said to the the inspiration to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. By all accounts Selkirk was crabbit and his ship mates could be forgiven for marooning him on Más a Tierra Island some 400 miles off the coast of Chile. However, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. He did by all accounts be proved right in the end as the ship he was sailing in was un-seaworthy and it foundered a short while later. Robinson Crusoe is an enduring story.

Alexander Selkirk Memorial

The road continues for a short distance before making a sharp bend towards the sea. The FCP then continues between the strangely named Cardy House and Cardy Cottage along a narrow lane. The Cardy Works, over the wall to your left was once a fishing net making factory.

Cardy Lane

The lane comes out at a car park, with public toilets to your right.
The FCP goes up a set of steps to your immediate left to the old railway.
You can continue along the street by the shore as they both end up at the same place to continue along the old railway out of the town. The going here is a little uneven with the railway ballast poking up through the surface. I noticed a parallel path on the shore side of the railway, which may make for an alternative for anyone going coastal.

Old Railway, Lower Largo

A coastal path joins the railway at a ruined farmstead.

Ruined farmstead

The going along the railway gets a bit better for a short stretch and then gets rougher as you near Carrick Villa. The FCP then leaves the railway and heads towards the dunes and the sea, with the high tide option of going along the dunes or you could as I done and go coastal with a walk along the sands at Largo Bay.

About half way along the beach you will come to two strangely built pillboxes, I say strange as they have no embrasures, firing slits the point directly towards the sea, rather than having one at each side firing along the line of the beach with short walls limiting the field of fire away from the beach. Apart from a line of cubes going along part of the beach and a strangely aligned set of cubes going inland, that is all the defensive structures on this beach and yet this must have been a likely invasion spot.

Cubes Dunbarnie

Bat Bunker, Dumbarnie

Bunkers, Dumbarnie

The pillboxes have been given over to roosting bats and I found a swarm of snails (I don’t know what the collective noun is for a group of snails,) in one of the embrasures.

Swarming snails

There are a few anti-invasion posts dotted here and there along the beach to look at.

Anti-glider obstacle

At one point I turned around and looked back along the beach to realise that I had this whole beach to myself, such a rare privilege.

There is a group of smaller posts in the sand, which is thought to be a fish trap.

Gone fishing

Things come to an end as you near a line of trees at Ruddon’s Point, there is a signpost up on the dunes directing you to a bridge a little inland to cross a river.

Ruddon’s Point

The tide marks here indicate that the bridge could be flooded blocking your way forward.
There’s another smaller bridge beyond but the bed beneath is relatively dry and so I walked past without going over.
Looking back you get a nice view of the Bay, which was too nice a picture to leave in monochrome

Largo Bay from Ruddon’s Point

The FCP then continues for a short distance before going into a small line of trees blocked with a set of Dragons Teeth, anti-tank-obstacles, which is also the entrance to the Shell Bay Holiday park.


Dragons Teeth, Shell bay

Follow the road through the site, past the static caravans to a finger board at the end of the site. There may be an alternative route from the Dragons Teeth to go to the right over the dunes and onto Shell Bay.

Either way the FCP then continues along a narrow path, which can be muddy in places as it makes its way around Kincraig Point.

There is an alternative route, known as the “Elie Chain walk” it is not sign posted so you have to know that it is there to use it. The chain walk goes around the base of the cliffs at Kincraig Point, aided by a series of stainless steel chains and footholds cut into the rock. This MUST be done at low tide, you MUST have a head for heights and you MUST be fit enough for a three-point scramble over the rocks. This is not something to be undertaken lightly. At one point the chain was slack and I was leaning backwards, holding on with my arms wrapped around a slippery wet chain, so be warned.
At one point I came to realise how dangerous this is; no safety nets, no risk assessments, no one to come to my aid if I muck up, refreshing in a terrifying kind of way.

The prospect of fun, Elie Chain Walk

The chain walk finishes at the Earlsferry beach.

I will show more of the chain walk pictures in a separate post.

The FCP climbs up over Kincraig Point past an abandoned coastal defence gun battery to eventually come down to the beach at Earlsferry Links golf course. I had done this part of the walk last year so I wasn’t missing anything.

It’s a nice walk along the beach towards some houses at the end, where the FCP then crosses the golf course.

Earlsferry Beach

Earlsferry Links golf course path

Look out both ways for flying golf balls as you cross the fairways, then turn right to follow a fence towards the houses, going around the point, eventually to a grassy area with a great view of Earlsferry and Elie beyond. The ruin here is of a 12th century chapel.
There is a short cut if you want to miss this section by remaining on the golf Course path heading straight along the street in front of you.

Earlsferry finger board and chapel

Elie and Earlsferry panorama

I was recommended to visit The Pavillions Cafe near the golf Clubhouse to the left but it was too late for lunch and more importantly, I wanted home by this stage.

Earlsferry is fair steeped in history and several interesting plaques to its famous sons and one to the Polish parachute Regiment based here during WW2 are dotted along the way.

Polish Paratroops Memorial

There is a single pink coloured stair house along the way, this is a classic old Scots stair house; living accommodation upstairs, workshop, animals, net store downstairs.

The FCP eventually comes out onto the main road, a nice wee bakers on the left at the junction and further on there is a nice Deli and cafe also on the left. Turn right at the hotel to head back towards the sea and it is at this point that I stopped the walk just short of the 54 mile mark and nearly half way through my Fife Coastal Walk and this Blisters or burst tale…. but there’s one thing for sure…
Mair tae come

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Fife Coastal Path – Prestonhill Quarry


The weather was pure dreich, one of those days that’s totally uninspiring for photography and I badly needed a dose of Photo-Therapy, it was also an excuse to try out the revised workflow for my photos, so off I went into the dreichness in search for something to photograph.

Plan A was to catch up on a couple of places that I missed last week on the walk between Kincardine to North Queensferry, that was until I got stopped by the police…. well it was a rolling road block and I didn’t fancy following behind their slow moving convoy, so off I went in the opposite direction, following Plan B instead.

Plan B

Inverkeithing was the nearest anything so I headed down to the shore to have a look at the old Prestonhill Quarry as it may be a candidate for a future photo one day.
I parked in a small car park just off Preston Crescent, very handy for the Fife Coastal Path (FCP). The FCP goes behind a busy Stevedore warehouse and no sooner had I went around the warehouse than I bumped into one of my former managers, whom I hadn’t seen since he retired many years before me- small world indeed.

Hav Marlin

The activity was all down to the unloading of the MV Hav Marlin a 1990 ton general cargo ship. I reset the aspect ratio from square to landscape format because I would have not been able to go back far enough to get the whole ship in the picture, having made one exception, I thought that I may as well use colour as well. Here she is in all her glory.


MV Hav Marlin

The trim is well down at the bow, it looks like the mooring line is also a bit on the tight side. Most of the cargo is at the front, which may explain the bow down trim.

Prestonhill Quarry

Just beyond the jetty is the now abandoned Prestonhill Quarry. It had a conveyor belt loading system to put rock straight onto a ship. All of the shore side of the pier has disappeared, There is an interesting concrete structure beside the pier, reminds me of a Japanese shrine

See what I mean?

The quarry rock face was the next point of interest, kind of interesting fissures… well I think so.


The quarry was the scene of a recent tragedy when in 2015 an 18 year old boy drowned following an ice bucket challenge that went wrong. The typical knee-jerk reaction by the grown-ups was to fence the quarry off…. and two years later, the fence gates are wide open…. and someone has knicked the fencing!


Doesn’t look like the CCTV camera mounted on the lamp post opposite is working then?

There was another cargo ship making its way into the harbour at Inverkeithing, bound for the RM Metals pier. Many a famous ship has ended her days at that pier, nowadays the main business is scrap car recycling.


It’s a very tight channel and the MV Luhnau, 2450 tons was making slow headway to berth. That’s the old Prestonhill Pier in the foreground. I just could not resist a wee scramble up the edge of the quarry for a better view.prestonhill-path-inverkeithing-6359-copy

The path up to the vantage point is… interesting if not a little jaggy in places.

So there we have it. The photo-therapy went well, and I’m pleased with the way the photos turned out. I hope you agree.

So all I have left to do now is find a spot of nicer weather, stick the boots on and go for a donner along the Fife Coastal Path, but there’s one thing for sure….

Mair tae come

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Fife Coastal Path -Torryburn to North Quensferry (part 1.)

The next instalment of my blisters of bust walking trip along the Fife Coastal Path,(FCP)  from Torryburn to North Queensferry.

My intention was to walk the five miles to Limekilns where I planned to catch a bus to Dunfermline and another back to my starting point.

Photography wise I slightly altered my settings so as not have such dark shadows. It was still my intention to shoot in square JPEG format however a technical issue with key wording the JPEGs and I have went back to the RAW format pictures, converted to the Fuji Monochrome with the yellow filter simulation but I would be a fool to ignore the Develop Module.

My car was left in a small car park on the shores of the Forth and its a no brainer to follow the path along the track between the houses and the shore.


God Rays, Torryburn


Jaggy topped wall

The track passes by a house with an unusual wall, it is topped with large lumps of what looks like the by-product of a furnace. I dare say it would be uncomfortable to climb over that wall.



Christmas Carol wall

However, the path becomes a beautiful tarred track. The going was so good and I was enjoying myself so much that I missed a signpost directing me to the left, going up the hill past the ruined ,old Torryburn Parish Church and along to Bullions. As it happened I got  a few piccies along the way.
I thought this was clump of ivy was heart shaped until I realised that it’s a Christmas carol all in one picture. I’ll let you figure out which one…


Rocks and God Rays


The path, Torryburn


Why didn’t I turn left?

This is where I went wrong… and I’ve got the photo to prove it!

Out on the sticky mud flats, looking towards Crombie Point.

The tarred cycle track passes by some interesting houses, including this one, a 17th century Lairds house with lots of crow step gables.

Crombie Point.
The cycle path ends at Crombie point, which seems to have been a fishing port at one time.

The outside stairs with the living accommodation above the boat shed, the attached barns to the houses.It must have been a busy port at one time, going by the size of the ruined jetty at the foot of the road.

The FCP goes up the hill passing a stone platform used in the days of old for getting onto a horse.

The path makes a sharp detour at Crombie Point to avoid the Defence Munitions depot  at Crombie. The depot was established in 1916 as a munition store for the fleet at nearby Rosyth and latterly holds stores for the Air Force as well.

Is a small farming community made even smaller by the row of empty farm labourers cottages by the roadside.


Make the most of this quiet country road as it makes its way up he hill as you are heading for a busy road.


Having the time to take in the views gets you thinking, here is a small dead-end country road with the detritus from MacDonald’s scattered here and there along the way. The thing is it is miles away from the nearest restaurant. What a messy bunch we are. I am sure there is a university thesis in the generation and distribution of litter. It is not just MacDonalds that are at fault, Costa, Starbucks and Subway are also noticeable.

You come up to the A985 for the short walk to Crombie Village. The sign, a walker need to look out for is half way down the pole to the right.
If you want, the journey can be shortened by continuing to walk along the footpath beside the road, if you want a quieter life, follow the FCP to the right at the old school and up the hill, the FCP goes around the houses before returning to rejoin the main road. The old disused parish church and the now closed local shop are half way around the houses.

Broomhall/ Charleston.
There is now two miles for walking alongside the road, not pleasurable but it has to be endured before turning right, then sharp left to follow the track into the Bromhall Estate.
You cross a railway line that should have been removed years ago, it goes down to Charleston and then a branch line goes off to DM Crombie, although nothing has gone this way in years.
Even the odd MacDonalds detritus here.

The track makes its way up a short hill and down on a beautifully paved track going through the workings of a quarry.


Modern day lime kiln


A little farther on to the left is a modern day lime kiln. Once upon a time this whole area was a major producer of lime for the building trade, essential for lime mortar and for agricultural uses as well.

The Bruce Family at Broomhall, direct descendants of King Robert the Bruce, who operated the lime business were generous benefactors establishing a school for the workers children. This was the village school until falling numbers forced its closure. A curious little archway in front of the doors.

They also built a granary a little farther on, which became a drill hall and is now the village shop.


A model village laid out around a large village green and little bit beyond the shop was my stopping point for lunch and more importantly a rest.


On reflection there does not seem to be many places along the way to sit and rest for a while. No handy big boulders or fallen trees nothing.

Having reached my initial destination I decided to carry on and get some more, which concludes this first part of the Torryburn to North Queensferry section of the FCB… but there’s one thing for sure…

Mair tae come

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Something different

To deliberately blur ones photos goes against every single thing that photographers learn when they come up through the ranks to join the elitists who can take tack-sharp, in focus photos, which I think is the root of the problem in that making the same kind of photo time and time again fails to become challenging.
I guess that may be a source of comfort to many, especially aviation photographers, whose only desire is to record what they have seen but to me I like to try something different, to learn something new and to that end I read an e-magazine called The Photograph published by Craft and Vision. Here I discovered the technique called ICM, Intentional Camera Movement, where one deliverately moves the camera as the exposure is being made to blur the resultant image creating some wonderfully abstract images of some very commonplace things.

I needed out, I have been spending too much time in the house, I mean it was almost an our!
The only known cure for what I had was some photo-therapy and to that end I grabbed by trusty old Canon 5D and fitted the 50mm f1.8 lens and off we went for a walk in the woods. These days I prefer the standard lens in preference to a zoom, I have a zoom for the 5D but that’s not much more than a glorified body cap to keep the dust out.

The Standard lens also gives one the ability to zoom with ones feet, move around to get the composition. Zooms can make you lazy, making you settle for the first composition that comes your way, with a standard lens you have to look for that composition.

Anyway, after the second shot of the day, which was to set the exposure. Incidentally, I have this “thing,” I’m sure that it’s a trick from the old days where one meters off ones hand, that’s a skin tone, which is Zone VI (Ansel Adams stuff, you know old fart, big camera, shot a lot of big American landscapes) so the trees will be darker than that so open up a couple of stops and things should be OK… and generally it is. I’ll continually meter like this throughout my woodland walks making adjustments as the lighting conditions change. Like the Standard lens, you have to think your exposure through, rather than letting the camera do it for you. I suppose that it gives a whole new meaning to hand-made.

I digress, after I had set the exposure, I had the idea to change the Picture Style to Monochrome, instead of my usual Faithful. Usually I do the black and white conversion afterwards in Photoshop, I’m never a great fan of any in-camera picture styles but I though what the hell, it’s RAW anyway, which easily changed in Lightroom anyway, so I’ll give it a try… and from that point on things just snowballed.

It’s so trite to say that being able to see in monochrome was a revelation but it was and when coupled with ICM, wow it was like falling in love with photography all over again.
Just one thing, the photos do not seem to appear as sharp as they should do. You can see better if you click on the image to show it at it full size, without any compression, using your browsers back button to return to this blog post.


Spot of sunlight

Spot of sunlight

Fairly innocuous was this spot of sunlight on this single tree, which was followed by a conventional photo of a piece tree fungus

Tree fungus

Tree fungus

Next up was the Ditch… still waters run deep and I’d hate to find out how deep this piece of water is but the reflections have always captivated me and until now never quite been able to get the picture right in colour and now that water is like black glass.

The Ditch

The Ditch

Now things start rolling, rocking and just plain jerking with the ICM. This one was slightly de-focused and was created with an upward movement. Again a revelation, usually I focused first then moved the camera, de-focussing makes it even smoother.

Trees ICM

Trees ICM

This one was a rocking motion of the grass with some light shining through the trees for contrast. Look out Chris Friel, there’s a new boy in town! (Chris Friel is an inspiration for ICM and so if the ICM- Intentional Camera Movement Flickr Group


Rocking in the grass

A variation on a theme was these small trees

Bushes ICM

Small trees ICM

Onto bigger stuff with the revelation that part of the a spinning ICM picture is more or less in focus, giving contrast to the abstract ICM.

Tree ICM

Tree ICM

I have been to this part of the woods before, the old raised bog is to the left with a manky ditch between the old and the new parts of the wood and it was seen in a new light, when….

The Raised Bog

I came back from the other direction…

Backlit trees

Backlit trees

The trees were backlit and I deliberately over exposed to top part of the picture giving it an ethereal look. The rim lighting on the fallen tree also helps.

Old tree

Old tree

Over exposing the background also helped with this one, there are a number of dead Scots Pines amongst the plantation, giving a contrast to the upright and regimented conifers.

A spot of sunlight

A spot of sunlight

This was something that I hadn’t done before, I metered off my hand in the sunlight and just used that for this exposure, capturing the light and the texture on the tree bark at the expense of everything else.

Four and out

Four and out

I used the same trick on this piece of shadow, the pattern and the texture on the ground that was important, with everything else being immaterial and under exposed.

The truth is out there

The truth is out there

I turned this picture on it’s head, giving a different slant to the picture, with a spot of ICM on a relatively fast shutter speed.


After all that, this post may seem like a load of pretentious crap and you could be forgiven for thinking that however I had fun making these pictures and that’s what it is all about enjoying what you do otherwise it would not be worth doing… but there’s one thing for sure….

Mair tae come


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