Posts Tagged Tay Rail Bridge disaster
The final installment of Going Coastal – my blog of the 117 mile Fife Coastal Path, this section covers the 15 miles from Wormit Bay to Newburgh.
On reflection, this section of the path is perhaps the most challenging and least interesting of the entire walk and yet it turned out to be very rewarding…
I do get the impression that this part of the route was added on merely to complete the path, to have a path going from one end of Fife to the other. Having gone so far inland kind it defeats the coastal element of the path, the bit that is most interesting thing about the whole path is now far away out of sight at the bottom of a hill somewhere. The route would be at least two miles shorter, maybe more if it stuck closer to the coast. I am guessing that land access issues, perhaps the engineering and financial challenges forced the grown-ups to go for the inland route a vast contrast to the paved cycle paths of Kincardine.
This section is unique in that I had to rely wholly on cars for transport. On all the other parts of the route I was able to leave my car somewhere and get public transport back to the days starting point, public transport in this instance would have meant two long bus journeys with a change at Cupar.
Of all the sections of the Coastal path, this is the one that I would not wish to be caught out with the weather. There is nowhere to hide, exposed to the elements for almost all of the way.
Starting out from the small car park at Wormit Bay the path follows the coast for a short distance, passing a memorial to the victims of the Tay Rail Disaster of 1879. The names of all the people known to be killed in the disaster are recorded on the granite slabs.
The path starts to climb a little with good views of Dundee to the right, at one point you can see the ruins of a jetty which is thought to have been used in connection with a stone quarry and a ruined fishing station down by the shore.
A carved a seal making a handy seat to enjoy the view.
This part of the route is delightful as it makes its way along the coast, at one point, towards its end, the path is wide and flat passing through a newly planted woodland making really pleasurable walking.
There is a set of steps on the outskirts of Balmerino that is steep and long and another set down more regular in spacing making for a much better descent.
The FCP then goes between two newly renovated houses, probably a former fishing station and the sea wall. It is only for a short distance before you start to round the point on the track.
A seal and its pup are carved out of driftwood with a fine view up the river to the way ahead towards Newburgh.
The FCP continues along the coast, you can, if you wish, continue uphill for a short distance to visit the ruined abbey. I have been there before so I kept on going with a clear conscience.
Down on the shore the remains of an old pier, can be seen. Perhaps something in connection with the abbey or the remnant for a long forgotten fishing industry.
The path then continues along a shingle beach. This is your last chance to Go Coastal as the path heads into the trees to run parallel with the shore before heading inland.
Too soon you will come to a wooden fence at a bend, time to head inland and explore new places.
A hare crossed my path, it took one look at me then took-off. It’s been a while since I last seen one. A pity as they are much better to look at than stupid bunnies, who are only good for burrowing, eating and making more bunnies.
To add interest I decided to break the journey up into short stages of about three miles each or about an hours walking as something to aim and navigate to and if possible places to rest and eat. The first one was to be at Creich Castle.
The track takes a sharp right turn at what was the Under-keepers cottage and starts uphill in earnest. It is a constant, unrelenting climb for nearly half a mile up to the road, passing a mill pond about half way up, giving some relief to the view and your lungs.
You end up on a tarred road at the top of this track. Four sections of generally quiet roads over the next two and a half miles.
Going higher and the wind makes its presence felt, the wind was more or less a constant 10 to 20 knot breeze for the rest of the day, keeping things cool, sometimes too cool as I went along.
A short descent and turn right at the next junction to pass the ruined Creich Castle.
I didn’t stop, there wasn’t any obvious public access at this large and busy farm, so I kept on going, coming across the ruined 14th century, Old Parish Church Of St Devenic.
I broke the journey here to have a look at the church, there wasn’t much in the way of shelter maybe at the next stop at the point where I was to leave the road and head up to Norman’s Law.
The road here is very rough with lots of pot-holes and gravel before settling down to pass the hamlet at Brunton and the old Manse to come to a junction, where I turned right, to head uphill towards a Pittachope Farm.
Around the corner at the farm and a straight, passing by a lay-by with an information board for the Coastal Path, before turning left onto a track to head up to Norman’s Law.
No where to shelter here either, so I kept on going as the track made its way uphill, to a junction where you turn right onto an overgrown forest track and into the trees.
Found shelter among the trees among the trees at the top and stopped gratefully for lunch. There is nowhere to buy lunch along this part of the route so sandwiches were the order of the day Time to study the map, catch up with the news and generally rest.
Starting back was painful, my leg muscles had tightened up, I was walking more like a cripple on the way to Lourdes than a seasoned Fife Coastal Path walker.
I decided not to go up Norman’s Law. Too much effort for too little gain, I’ll do it another day in better weather.
For anyone that is interested in going up to Norman’s Law, there is an access point off the track as it starts to descend into the forest rather than climbing an embankment and two farm gates earlier.
Otherwise it is a long slow descent along an improving forest track. This would be a fantastic descent to do on a mountain bike.
Emerging out of the trees at a gate and get to reacquaint myself with the strong breeze as I made my way down a rough track to a junction, turning sharp right towards a group of cottages, where the road stops and a path begins. The FCP make its way through a wood, then heads down along side a field on a rough path to a red roofed barn
Continue on for a half mile or so to another gate, a right turn and climb towards the trees.
This seems to be an active sporting estate, so be prepared for path closures. It’s a steady climb here. At one point you pass a junction with a memorial of some kind,
Melgers seem to operate the estate or shooting.
Continue onto a rougher track to come up to a deer fence, look for the small gate on your right.
Back on the track and it gets rougher still. no graded forest road here, the estate vehicles have left a series of ruts in the grass making for uneven walking as you continue to head uphill to a junction with a forest track.
It is at this point a warning note on the map warns to “take special care navigating along this section.”
I did and apart from the trees being incorrectly drawn as being at to the track side, when they are well clear to the left, there is nothing special here. The road does end and it does continue along a grassy path but you have to try very hard to be stupid and miss the path.
The path continues through young woodland until it makes a sharp turn to go downhill. This point will be great in about 30 years or so when the trees mature but for now you are walking past young trees with half a view and no shelter.
Through the gate at the bottom onto a rough path beside a field then it is uphill, towards the top you will be fenced on both sides as you go along, the path takes sharp turns in places.
Eventually you come out at a field, turn right and follow this fence for a short distance.
Pay attention here, you will approach either a closed gate or an open gate with a fence line coming towards you. Either way, go to the left hand side of this fence, muggins here took the right hand side and had to backtrack to get on the correct side of the path.
Now you are in for a treat as you get a view of Newburgh, literally the end is in sight as track before you sweeps downwards. It is to the left of that green patch, immediately after the houses before the wood.
Follow the track down to a gate, turn left to continue through a lovely strand of pine trees. This was the last of my three mile stops, time to give one hours notice for my driver to come and get me… and to soak in the view.
At the end, go through the gate, following the vague farm track downhill against the fence, this path just keeps on descending, at one point you are shielded by a line of gorse bushes providing welcome shelter from the wind.
This path ends at a large farm gate, this is where the note applies “use route through field to avoid farmyard.” What this means is don’t go through the large gate ahead, use the small one to your left and walk through the field down to another small gate, totally missing the farmhouse to your right.
In saying that, you have to turn slightly right to get to the path behind the fence in front of you, following the path as it drops down to another farm track, which I guess will be very muddy when wet.
This farm track ends at a large mill pond and the road the road. Turn left, using the footpath for a short distance to the old mill. Lindores Abbey is ahead but there is nothing substantial to see.
The path continues past the mill heading towards the reed beds beside the Tay along the top of a flood bank, taking you into Newburgh.
Continue along the shore, the town had a strong salmon fishing industry at one time, now there are only memories.
Continue through a grassy park to a derelict house, then up the hill for a short distance to a T-junction with no way marking, right towards the park and uphill to the left.
The end is really in sight, the archway in front of the car park at the top is your final goal… and then it is all over.
The one Hundred and sixteen miles are now all behind you and the Fife Coastal Path is now a pleasant memory.
My little girl was waiting for me to take me back to the starting point at Wormit and never a more welcome sight she was.
Well that’s all from me. I have got the inclination to do some more walking, photographin’ and writing, so….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Soon after passing the lighthouse the view opens up with vistas of the road bridge and Dundee.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. )
… and that concludes the penultimate part of Going Coastal, along the Fife Coastal Path… but there’s one thing for sure…